Concerts

Funk Fest Returns with a Star-Studded Lineup on NYE Weekend

Jazmine Sullivan is slated to perform at Miami Funk Fest on December 31.
Jazmine Sullivan is slated to perform at Miami Funk Fest on December 31. Photo courtesy of Funk Fest
New Year's Eve weekend in Miami just got a lot funkier.

Ring in the new year with a star-studded lineup of R&B, funk, and hip-hop acts at Miami Funk Fest. Returning to South Florida for the first time in five years, Funk Fest will be held at the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo on December 30-31.

R&B enthusiasts can expect a diverse bill of talent that spans decades. On Friday, Mary J. Blige, Jeezy, Carl Thomas, and Anthony Hamilton will kick off the two-day festival, while Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Rick Ross, T.I., and more are billed for Saturday's festivities. Funk Fest founder Leo Bennett says attendees can also expect surprise performances and a complimentary countdown champagne toast during Hill's performance.

"We're excited about being here for the New Year's Eve weekend," Bennett tells New Times. "Our experience is like going to a big family cookout where you can let your hair down, let your worries go, and all the stress. We want to provide an environment of good people, good music, and good times," he continues. "Our goal is to bring in top-notch entertainment. We have over 50 food vendors, food trucks, beverage tents, and merchandise vendors. It's going to be a festive atmosphere."

Since its inception in 1994, Funk Fest has created a space for Black and brown people to celebrate the music that's shaped the culture. The longest-running R&B festival in the country, the organization has held more than 100 open-air music festivals worldwide. For more than two decades, the Funk Fest stage has hosted acts like Outkast, Babyface, Jodeci, Rick Ross, and Erykah Badu in cities like Memphis, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Tampa.

Funk Fest also teamed up with the City of North Miami to host community events throughout the week. On Wednesday, a free financial literary summit was held at the Scott Galvin Community Center, with panels focusing on generating side hustles and building generational wealth. The forum honored local celebrities, politicians, and entrepreneurs like Rick Ross, Uncle Luke, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, and OneUnited Bank President and COO Teri Williams.

On Thursday, the Funk Fest Charity Golf Tournament, benefitting the organization's nonprofit Lifting as We Climb, took place at Miami Shores Country Club, with the Funk Fest kick-off event at Gulfstream Park taking place later in the evening.

Bennett says he's excited for this year's Funk Fest to continue the event's tradition of connecting revelers to music, community, and entertainment.

"It's our culture," he says. "A lot of music to me is the energy. It's what drives our community and our culture. A lot of this music came from funk and the James Brown era, so we curated this as a culture and brought it to this point, and it's only going to get bigger. I'm excited about a lot of the artists performing because they don't do a lot of shows across the country. To have these big names on the stage this weekend feels great to ring in 2023."

Regarding the surprise performances slated to take the stage this weekend, Bennett says attendees will have to wait and see. Tickets are still available for purchase on the Funk Fest website and will also be available at the box office on Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m.

Funk Fest. 2 p.m. Friday, December 30, and Saturday, December 31, at Miami-Dade Fairgrounds & Expo Center, 10901 SW 24th St., Miami; funkfesttour.com. Tickets cost $65 to $425 via etix.com.
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A Deerfield Beach native, Shanae Hardy is a South Florida-based culture and copy writer. When she’s not pressed over deadlines or Beyoncé, you can find her fixated on a book.

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