In 1986 Mort Jonas and Bruce Freeman decided to form a musical group for the gay and lesbian community in South Florida. Jonas had recently returned from a vacation in San Francisco where he had connected with an organization called the Lesbian and Gay Band Association (LGBA) that was performing at the Gay Games II. Freeman had just moved to Fort Lauderdale from Washington, D.C. where he had been a founding member of the DC’s Different Drummers, one of the more established gay bands in the country. Together Mort and Bruce created the band that over the years has gone through two name changes, several artistic directors and many concert venues.
The South Florida Pride Pride Bands has had the great honor of hosting the annual convention of the LGBA six times. The 2009 LGBA Conference, hosted in New Orleans debuted the first ever LGBA Honors Jazz Ensemble, which featured 6-time Grammy Award winner Gary Burton on vibraphone. The most recent conference, “Fiesta Caliente”, was held in 2014 and featured a concert band of about 250 musicians onstage at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts’ AuRene Theater.
The Concert Band, Tropical Winds Band, Jazz Band, Youth Band, and Marching Band produce two major concerts per year at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to formal concerts, they perform at pride events from Jacksonville to Key West, Christmas on Las Olas, Christmas Eve at MCC Sunshine Cathedral, the Tuesday’s Angels Bike Ride, and many other events as requested. The bands regularly share the stage with local performers and believe strongly in supporting local talent. The Concert Band has enjoyed collaborating with the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, Lambda Chorale, In Harmony, MCC Sunshine Cathedral Choir, and the Florida Singing Sons Boychoir. Along with these local collaborators, singers, dancers, special lighting, and video presentations all add to the bands’ large-scale productions.
The Pride Jazz Ensemble is also very active in the community, playing at several events yearly. Most recently, they had the honor of playing at a fundraising event where former President Bill Clinton was the guest speaker.
Members of the South Florida Pride Pride Bands, as part of a massed concert or marching band of the LGBA, have participated in several Gay Games and marches on Washington, three Inaugurations, and parades as far and wide as Palm Springs, CA., Montreal, Canada, Superior, Wisconsin, Las Vegas, Nevada, and most recently at the Southern Decadence Parade in New Orleans, Louisiana.
While the band has definitely grown and changed throughout the years, one thing remains constant. Our primary function is to entertain audiences in South Florida and support the community through our various performances. Thank you for supporting us through attendance at our performances. By doing so, you allow us to continue to supply South Florida with quality musical performances.