2021 Detroit Jazz Festival shifting to virtual event due to Hart Plaza construction, COVID concerns

Organizers say jazz festival does not have ability to require COVID-19 testing results and/or request proof of vaccination

Cello (Pixlr)

DETROIT – The Detroit Jazz Festival will be a virtual event again this year as organizers scrap plans for an in-person concert weekend citing Hart Plaza construction and the ongoing COVID pandemic.

The festival’s virtual format will be streamed and broadcast “live” for free this Labor Day weekend. It begins on Friday, Sept. 3 and runs through Monday, Sept. 6.

Organizers decided to switch to the virtual format based on the following:

  • 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. Organizers said that situation was not an option for jazz festival management due to “conflicts with carefully designed health and safety protocols.”
  • They also said that 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, organizers said.

“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. “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.”

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; Kurt Elling’s The Big Blind featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater: A Jazz Radio Play written by Kurt Elling and Phil Galdston; The Summit: Take 6 Meets the Manhattan Transfer, Monty Alexander HKX, and our world-class Detroit hometown artists.

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About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.