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Jazz singer refuses to perform over pay dispute

caines | 11/8/2012, 4:30 a.m.

Miami Nice Jazz Festival is not so nice

Jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater was the featured vocalist for last Friday nights Miami Nice Jazz Festival at the Gusman Center, but fans got more than they bargained for when they heard her words of greetings My contract was signed months ago but it has not been respected, said Bridgewater, 62, who is a three-time Grammy winner. In other words, she was unwilling to perform because she had not been paid in accordance with her contract. Then she left the stage. It was an unfortunate end to the first of three nights of musical entertainment highlighting cultural ties between Miami and its sister city, Nice, in France. According to Philippe Pautesta-Herder, the Miami-based producer of the festival, the singer was paid by check but she refused to perform because her contract called for cash or a certified check. She made the entire festival look bad, Pautesta-Herder said. Bridgewater, also a Tony award winner, is considered the godmother, of the festival, which has been taking place in France since 1948. It came to Miami for the first time this year. Bridgewater has been part of the French festival over the past few years without incident. She was supposed to sing in the third of three sets scheduled for last Friday evening. According to Pautesta-Herder, the concert organizers had already wired Bridgewater half of her $17,000 fee. But some 30 minutes before she was scheduled to take the stage in front of a crowd of about 300, organizers handed Bridgewater a check for the remainder. But her contract called for the check to be certified. Organizers frantically tried to assure Bridgewater that the check was good but without positive results. Meanwhile, in the auditorium, what was expected to be a 15-minute intermission dragged on for almost an hour. Then Bridgewater mounted the stage. But only to say that she was not going to sing. Pautesta-Herder says she tricked the organizers and that it was quite embarrassing. The festival continued Saturday night with South Florida-based jazz singer Nicole Henry and the Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band headlining and Sunday night with jazz and French cuisine at The Biltmore Hotel. Patrons were allowed to either exchange their tickets for another show or receive a full refund. Before Bridgewaters very short appearance, the FIU University jazz band performed with torch singer Sally Night later a combo led by bassist Kyle Eastwood, son of actor Clint Eastwood, donned the stage. Bridgewater disappointed many fans but yes, the show did go on. Miami Times staff report