April Raquel and Jody Hill on Jazz in the Gardens

This Saturday and Sunday, March 11 and 12, Jazz in the Gardens is back at Hard Rock Stadium. Among the heavy R&B hitters set to headline are neo-soul legends Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. For its 16th edition Jazz in the Gardens also made sure to provide a local flavor on their stages. Among the musicians representing the 305 are April Raquel and Jody Hill. The two artists hopped on to the Jitney to introduce themselves.

When did you first fall in love with music?

April Raquel : My mom would sing occasionally when I was a child, sometimes with my Godmother who is still one of the best singers I have ever heard. I just always loved the radio. Late 70s & early 80s R&B was such a vibe. Also my grandmother had a photo of Tina Turner at her home that I used to stare at all the time because I was captivated by the electricity of her in photo. I have that photo in my home now.

Jody Hill: I fell in love with music around the age of 3 but I always say “birth”!

How did Miami shape you musically?

April Raquel: My grandmother’s first cousin, Clarence Reid, was a legendary songwriter and artist from West Palm Beach and later moved to Miami. He also went by the moniker Blowfly. He and Mr. Willie Clark discovered and wrote music for the legendary Betty Wright, also writing and producing for Sam & Dave, Gwen, McCrae, Jimmy, Beau, Horn, KC, and the Sunshine band, and others. He was right at the helm of the soulful Miami Sound back in the 60s and 70s. He would sit at my grandmother’s piano and write music. I wasn’t born quite yet, but this legacy ran rich in our family, so it’s been in my blood since before I was born.

Jody Hill: It shaped me musically because of what I was taught in church(Macedonia COGIC) This is where it all started for me and my career. That enabled me to learned different cultures and genres of music.

What can we expect from your performance in Jazz in the Gardens?

April Raquel: You can expect energy, funk, original songs, & crowd R&B & Hip-Hop favorites that we all love. Songs that remind us where and who we were when these hits were out.

Jody Hill: Great quality of music from great professional artists that my band will back up! It’s going to be stellar!

What are your plans for the rest of 2023?

April Raquel: In addition to music & entertainment, I will be exploring my lifestyle brand in the health, wellness & beauty space.

Jody Hill: My plan is to further my business to produce more events and perform with more artists.

April, You had a role in the classic Outkast video “Hey Ya”. Any memories you can share from that experience?

April Raquel: Yes… That I had the biggest crush on André 3000, lol. Also, that was an amazing opportunity for me because one of the casting directors assistants pointed out that there are not enough dark skin, beautiful women featured in music videos at that time so she called me out to get a close-up feature. The value that came from that was just priceless!

Jody, you produced for disco legends KC and the Sunshine Band and Gloria Gaynor. Any lessons that you learned from these veterans that you can share?

Jody Hill: Sure, I learned how to do business, how to perfect the production side of the music and how to delegate the ones you trust to grow you production.

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David Rolland

David Rolland edits the Jitney blog. He is the author of the novels Yo-Yo & The End of the Century.