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Detroit Jazz Festival Reverts to Virtual Format

Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gregory Porter, Herbie Hancock and Kurt Elling among artists to perform in live broadcast event

Marion Hayden
Marion Hayden at the 2020 Detroit Jazz Festival (photo courtesy of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation)

The Detroit Jazz Festival, which for many years has been a free outdoor event in downtown Detroit, has just announced that it is going back to the virtual format it adopted last year in the face of the pandemic. Citing both renovation efforts at Hart Plaza and the open nature of a free festival downtown, the festival organizers decided to switch back to concerts streamed and broadcast live during Labor Day weekend. Our own Lee Mergner reported on last year’s event for, noting that jazz fans were able to watch the performances via various channels and platforms.

“This is a winning solution that preserves the legacy of the Detroit Jazz Festival while bringing amazing performances into a virtual format,” said Chris Collins, Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation president and artistic director, in a press release received by JazzTimes. “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.”

As of this date, the original lineup for the 2021 festival remains intact, with scheduled performances by artist-in-residence Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock, Kurt Elling (performing his radio play The Big Blind), Kenny Barron, Monty Alexander, Gregory Porter, Take 6 & the Manhattan Transfer, and many more. Learn more about the updated schedule here.