South Florida singers join headliners at Jazz in the Gardens

Usher, Aretha Franklin among headliners at festival

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – This year's Jazz in the Gardens music festival headliners include Usher, Aretha Franklin, Janelle Monae, Kool and the Gang and Babyface.

Others on the ticket, lesser known but powerful performers from South Florida, include R&B artist CriStyle Renae, who couldn't believe it when she got the call.

"It is incredible," Renae said. "I feel it is an affirmation of all the work that I have been putting in. It is very surreal and I feel very blessed to be here."

Like many singers, Renae has been working for years to hone her talent and be recognized for it. In 2004, she was a finalist on "Gimme the Mic," a show hosted by Local 10's Will Manso.

Also in the lineup is West Palm's April Raquel.

"It is the style that is mine," Raquel said.

The explosive singer has never actually attended Jazz the Gardens because she has been performing nonstop to build her own brand. Being on the stage in front of the home crowd is going to be very special.

"It's going to be a surreal type of experience to be up there in front of my family, " Raquel said.

The singer known as LaVie is the only one of the three who has been on the Jazz in the Gardens stage before. She did so as a backup singer. This time, she is the star of the show and plans to shine. The mother of three, who is originally from Haiti, can't wait.

"It says my hard work is paying off," LaVie said. "All of the sacrifices that I have made throughout my career, it's just great."

For more information and tickets, go to Jazzinthegardens.com.