Detroit Jazz Festival, Wayne State University honors city’s ‘Angel of Jazz’

Granddaughter of Carharrt founder dead at 97

DETROIT – Members of the Detroit community have been coming together all week to mourn the death of the city’s “Angel of Jazz.”

Gretchen Valade, a Carhartt heiress, reportedly passed away in her home in Grosse Pointe Farms on Jan. 3.

Valade was known for many things including her love and devotion to Jazz in the city.

According to Wayne State University, the Jazz lover and philanthropist has donated $9.5 million to jazz studies and performance to the Detroit university. These funds led to renovations of the Hilberry Theatre and funding the Gretchen C. Valade Jazz Center.

Related: Carhartt heiress and prominent Detroit bussinesswoman, philanthropist Gretchen Valade dies

Gretchen Valade (Detroit Jazz Festival)
The shot with Gretchen and Chris Collins, has saxophonist Tia Fuller. (Detroit Jazz Festival)

On top of her generous contributions to Wayne State University, Valade was very active with the Detroit Jazz Festival. Valade reportedly established a $10 million endowment with the organization. She was also the founder of Mack Avenue Music Group record label and owned the renowned Jazz venue in Grosse Pointe Farms, Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe.

“Due to her singular commitment to jazz, Gretchen was dubbed the ‘Angel of Jazz’ by the global jazz community,” said Professor Chris Collins, the inaugural Gretchen C. Valade Endowed Chair in Jazz and artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival. “Her passion, commitment and vision were a legacy in itself.”

Below is a statement from the Detroit Jazz Festival:

Below is a statement from Wayne State University:

Below is a memorial video of the “Angel of Jazz” from the Detroit Jazz Festival:


About the Authors:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.

Elizabeth Washington is a Digital News Editor and has been with Local 4 News since April 2022.