The 42nd Annual Detroit Jazz Festival (Virtual) | Sept. 3rd-6th, 2021

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The 42nd Annual Detroit Jazz Festival

Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock,
Gregory Porter, Keyon Harrold, Kenny Garrett, Omar Sosa and the
Havana-Detroit Jazz Project; and Kurt Elling’s Big Blind
Headline 2021 Detroit Jazz Festival

UPDATE AUG. 17th, 2021 – Detroit Jazz Festival Presented by
Rocket Mortgage Pivots to Virtual

The Detroit Jazz Festival presented by Rocket Mortgage, the world’s largest (and best) free jazz festival in the world, today announced a pivot to a virtual format that will be streamed and broadcast “live” for free this Labor Day weekend. The Festival begins on Friday, September 3 and runs through Monday, September 6.

The Festival was originally scheduled to be in-person this year, but organizers decided to switch to the virtual format based on mitigating factors:
  • Hart Plaza is currently being improved and construction won’t be complete until Fall. While plans were being devised to bring people into the plaza, the enormity of the jazz festival made it difficult to continue to host the thousands that attend the festival annually. The Festival would then have to be held completely in the Campus Martius area, which would cause overcrowding and overflow of patrons in a smaller area. That situation was not an option for jazz festival management due to conflicts with carefully designed health and safety protocols.
  • Due to its open footprint, the jazz festival does not have the ability to require COVID-19 testing results and/or request proof of vaccination which is becoming the gold standard for large concert events.
  • Concern among some artists was also a deciding factor.
“This is a winning solution that preserves the legacy of the Detroit Jazz Festival while bringing amazing performances into a virtual format,” says Chris Collins, Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation president and artistic director. “We’re thankful for our sponsors, donors and patrons for their support which enables us to once again provide a jazz festival that is safe, live and free for everyone. Also, a special thank you to the city of Detroit for the great improvements happening at Hart Plaza which will make the 2022 Detroit Jazz Festival even better along with many other events held at this venue.”
The Festival, which will be held without audiences, will be streamed or broadcasted live and free (no replays or on-demand) from indoor sound stages at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center and closed to the public. More details will be announced at a later date.
Jazz enthusiasts will be able to view or listen to performances for free in a number of ways including: The Festival’s social media channels and web page; on public radio and television stations; and on the DetroitJazzFest LIVE! app.
(Recent Press Release)

DETROIT – The Detroit Jazz Festival presented by Rocket Mortgage, the world’s largest (and best) free jazz festival in the world, today unveiled plans for a return to in-person audiences at the annual Labor Day weekend event. The plans call for limited COVID-19 safety precautions and a revised festival footprint including three stages located in the downtown Hart Plaza and Campus Martius areas.

The revised footprint allows for more open space and social distancing amongst audiences. Other safety precautions include signage placed throughout the festival to encourage health and safety practices, more video screens to help spread out crowds during performances, cashless payment at vendor booths, and hand sanitizing stations placed throughout the downtown footprint.

“We are thrilled to bring back in-person live audiences to the Detroit Jazz Festival,” said Chris Collins, president and artistic director, Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation. “With the strong support of city officials, we devised a festival plan that incorporates safety measures and acknowledges the ongoing concerns some jazz patrons may have for attending outdoor events during the pandemic,” said Collins. “Overall, nothing beats the experience of live, in-person jazz performances at our stages and we look forward to showcasing the exciting artistry, dynamism and diversity of our artists delivering true jazz to our audiences.”

Rochelle Riley, Director of Arts and Culture, thanked festival officials for working with the City to ensure a safe environment for live music.

“This is the best news for music, for Detroit and for a national and global audience that came to a virtual festival a million strong last year,” Riley said. “But it’s time to add live music, so for those fans who have been calling asking whether they can come home or come visit or come to stay a while, the answer is a safe yes! And we at the City hope that residents and visitors will get vaccinated so we can keep the progress going and bring back even more live music. The pandemic is not over, but it could be. Let’s keep pushing!”

In its 42nd year, the Detroit Jazz Festival begins on Friday, September 3 and runs through Monday, September 6. This year’s Artist-in-Residence Dee Dee Bridgewater will headline multiple performances during the festival including an opening set with protégé group, the Woodshed Network Ladies, and a closing night performance with her all-female big band. Other highlights include performances from Herbie Hancock, Gregory Porter, Keyon Harrold, Omar Sosa and the Havana-Detroit Jazz Project; and Kurt Elling’s Big Blind.

The Detroit Jazz Festival is free to the public.

Also returning this year is “Detroit JAZZ Fest LIVE!” For just $20, Festival attendees and out-of-towners unable to make it to the Festival can livestream performances from all stages, all four days via their smartphone, tablet or desktop. Additionally, the livestreaming services features select performances throughout the year from the Foundation’s year-round initiatives, Festival schedules, maps and more. Register for the livestream at

About the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation
Under the leadership of President and Artistic Director Chris Collins, the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization that presents jazz and educational workshops throughout the year. The Foundation produces the Detroit Jazz Festival, which is the signature event for the Foundation and the largest free jazz festival in the world. The Festival is also a major tourist attraction for the City of Detroit, with 26 percent of its audience coming from out of state. For more information, visit

The Foundation receives grant funding from the Kresge Foundation, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Arts Midwest, D’Addario Foundation and Carolyn Wanzo and the Purify Wanzo CTAA Endowment at Wayne State University. Hundreds of individuals also contribute to the Festival through membership and donations.

Major corporate partners include presenting sponsor, Rocket Mortgage, DTE Foundation, MGM Grand Detroit, Michigan Hispanic Collaborative, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Bingham Legal Group, Central Michigan University and George Johnson & Company.

Media partners include Fox 2 Detroit, WJR Newstalk 760 AM, WEMU-FM, DownBeat, JazzTimes, WDET-FM 101.9, WRCJ 90.9 FM and Detroit Public Television.

Photo Credit: Mark Higashino

For more information on Detroit Jazz Festival, please visit:
DL Media

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