Telluride Jazz Fest: The Hazel Miller Band Goes Gospel
The Telluride Jazz Festival 2.0 boasts a robust and diverse artist lineup thanks to the new management group, Steve Gumble’s SBG Productions, which also programs Telluride Blues & Brews and the Durango Blues Train. Specifically the lineup features Mavis Staples, Macy Gray, Lee Fields & the Expressions, Miles Mosley + The West Coast Get Down and other greats such as Hazel Miller.
Unique Patron and VIP experiences passes are still available to enjoy the weekend in luxury. All passes for purchase online are here at www.telluridejazz.org/tickets.
Please scroll down to listen to a podcast with Hazel Miller.
“Style,” according to Mr. Webster, “is distinction, excellence, originality, and character in any form of artistic expression.”
Whatever it is, Hazel Miller has it to spare. Her moving, powerful voice infects her vast repertoire with a primal dose of genuine soul.
The Rocky Mountain News once described the singer as “a force of nature.”
“If Aretha had a soul sister, her name would have been Hazel Miller,” wrote Denver.citysearch.
Miller describes her voodoo as a “hybrid of blues, R & B, gospel and a little jazz. I like to sing from a place where it’s comfortable for me. Seems lots of people are looking for that same place.”
What she does is make you want to shake your tailfeathers and cry “hallelujah.”
At the 41st annual Telluride Jazz Festival, Hazel Miller performs Sunday, August 6, at 1 p.m.
More about Hazel Miller:
Miller has been a sought-after performer for the past three decades. Her audience has included six sitting governors and mayors, four US presidents, and all the major league sports teams based in Denver.
The current incarnation of The Hazel Miller Band plays an eclectic mix of jazz, R & B, blues, gospel, and Top 40 sounds. Recently Westwood voted the group “Best R & B” for 2017.
Miller grew up in the projects of Louisville, Kentucky, the fifth of seven children. She began by singing hymns at Catholic School:
“Catholic school had pageants for everything. I was only in third grade when they’d stand me up, hit me in the back and tell me to sing real loud.”
Hazel Miller claims to be the only girl in school who did not want marriage and have a house full of kids.
“I always knew I wanted to be a singer. That’s how I got through being an outcast. I’d sing to myself walking to school and going home.”
Miller began singing professionally at 15, making $40 per night performing at high school mixers. By 18, her group was landing club gigs:
“In the early 1970s, the last thing a black girl wanted to be was a blues singer. Lots of white boys sang our blues. Presley and the Beatles got rich. But black people who sang blues died poor like Bessie Smith. My friends told me not to sing blues, be more like Leontyne Price or Nancy Wilson. I stopped singing blues, but when I settled in Denver, a white town, the big thing was blues all over again. Go figure.”
In 1984, Miller was on her way to L.A. when her engine failed in Denver.
“We decided to stay and I took any job that was legal to make ends meet for my family. When the female saxophonist Laura Newman fired me from her band, I started my own band. We toured form the Department of Defense because I wanted to see my sister at Camp Casey in South Korea. Hazel Miller and the Caucasians, the name we gave our touring group, decided we sounded pretty good together. Back home, we performed at a big wedding and the word got out. Soon we were booked in all the top clubs, the ‘A’ list.”
For over 30 years, Miller has remained one of the most sought after performers in Colorado, regularly featured on E-Town Radio, Sirius Rado and XM and at music festivals around the state.
She has toured with Big Head Todd and the Monsters. A lot. And she has opened for such artists as Earth, Wind & Fire, The Allman Brothers, Herbie Hancock, Buddy Guy, Bryan Adams, James Brown, and more.
Miller has toured Europe, the Far East, the Middle East and Central America for the Department of Defense.
“I am blessed. I don’t like to say I am lucky. Lucky is when you find $5 in the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn for awhile. Blessed is someone who gets paid for doing the thing they love.”
In Telluride, Miller has performed at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon, in the Sunset Concert Series in the Mountain Village, at Telluride Blues & Brews and now she returns, this time to perform at Telluride Jazz.
“Telluride is cool. You see God’s majesty when you look outside your windows. I am a recovering Catholic.Visiting your town, you know He’s still out there.”
For more, listen to this podcast featuring Hazel Miller.
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