Labor Day weekend is always one of the biggest weekends for music in and around Detroit, in large part because that’s when the Detroit Jazz Festival takes over Hart Plaza each year. But because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, audience members won’t be heading downtown to watch the festival in person this year.
“We wanted to make sure this was truly free and available to everybody and the answer to that was WDET.” - Detroit Jazz Festival President Chris Collins.
But there’s good news — the show will go on!
WDET is returning as a live broadcast partner of the Detroit Jazz Festival for the first time since 1999. WDET will provide a wall-to-wall, uninterrupted broadcast of more than 40 hours of festival performances over Labor Day weekend Sept. 4-7.
Click on the audio player above to hear Detroit Jazz Festival President Chris Collins speak with WDET’s Stephen Henderson about this year’s festival.
Chris Collins is the president of the Detroit Jazz Festival. He tells Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today that the festival has been working on contingencies for months.
“The ‘Pandemic Pivot’ — it’s a new dance, we’re all working on it,” jokes Collins.
“When we talk about WDET returning as a broadcast partner, I mean, what a perfect fit,” he continues. “This is why public radio is so important and is worth everybody’s support…We wanted to make sure this was truly free and available to everybody and the answer to that was WDET, our public radio partners… If people don’t have online access or whatever, they can listen on the radio and they can listen with everybody else. It was a very important part of our design.”
More info on this year’s Jazz Fest
WDET has a strong, long relationship with co-broadcasting the Jazz Festival to the local community dating back to early 1980’s when it was called the Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival.
This year, the event’s sterling roster features live performances from jazz luminaries including Pharoah Sanders and Robert Glasper. Performances will be held without audiences, and will offer a new virtual format in recognition of current city, state and federal safety guidelines for public gatherings during the pandemic.
Performances will take place on three large indoor sound stages at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. All performances will run contiguously.
WDET will provide free community access to the jazz festival. The broadcast will be commercial free on 101.9 FM and live streaming at wdet.org desktop and mobile platforms and the WDET mobile app helping to keep the festival free and available to everyone.
Friday, Sept. 4: 6:20 p.m. – midnight
Saturday, Sept. 5: 11:20 a.m.- midnight
Sunday, Sept. 6: 11:20 a.m. – midnight
Monday, Sept. 7: 11:20 a.m. - midnight
Live performances can also be accessed on the festival social media channels (Facebook Live, Instagram), the proprietary Detroit Jazz Fest LIVE! App and on Channel 22, the city’s new arts and entertainment channel. Live performances will also be carried by Detroit Public Television, WRCJ 90.9 FM and WEMU 89.1 FM.