Hazel Miller in the Press
October 20, 2004
Hazel Miller Band in Grand Junction
Grand Junction Free Press
By Sharon Sullivan The jazzy and soulful Hazel Miller said it would be lovely to look out at the dance floor and see an Elvis when she and her band perform Halloween Eve at the Adams Mark Hotel. She may even dress in costume herself, for the American Lung Association fundraising bash. Although accustomed to traveling and performing the world over Miller jumped at the chance to return to Grand Junction to do the ALA benefit concert. It’s a cause she believes in and a town she likes. “We played (in Grand Junction) last year and—oh my God—we were lifted! We had such a ball so I know everyone else had a ball also,” Miller said. “People were so responsive. It was wonderful energy. Me and the boys are looking forward to Halloween in Grand Junction.” The Hazel Miller Band plays original material as well as jazz standards and dance favorites; songs like Duke Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much,” and “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. “I have no problem doing covers. If I like it I play it,” Miller said. Their last CD is composed of all jazz standards. “It’s a tribute to my mother and father and all the people who shaped me as a singer—Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson, and Ella Fitzgerald,” Miller said. “All my favorite songs by them are on it.” In January the band will start work on their fourth CD which will contain up-tempo dance and rhythm and blues. From 1988 to 1992, Miller and her band “Rich Relations” did a number of concerts for the Department of Defense. Miller sang for soldiers in Egypt, Iwo Jima, Korea, Turkey, Panama, and Honduras. “I loved every minute of it,” Miller said. “God gave me a voice that I can use and I’ve put it to good use.” In the United States, the Colorado-based band plays often at weddings. “That’s really a cool way to spend the day,” Miller said. Miller limits her club work to a handful of places in Colorado, including Grand Junction, Telluride, Denver and Evergreen. Ten years ago Miller backed away from playing mostly clubs because she had developed asthma from second-hand smoke. “I started out singing when I was 15. I played smoky bars most of my life. In my 40s I found out I had asthma. It was frightening,” Miller said. Nowadays they perform at national conferences and corporate functions around the country—gigs they’ve gotten largely through word-of-mouth. Miller is extremely happy to be performing for the ALA. “What we’re hoping for is a major turnout. This group needs the community support,” Miller said. ALA volunteer coordinator Mary Watson is a long-time fan of Miller and arranged for the singer to come do the benefit concert. “She’s just a joy, a really cool lady. She’s really positive,” Watson said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with someone of the caliber of Hazel Miller,” said Mary Ann Cooper, Western Region Coordinator for ALA of Colorado. “She’s a premier jazz artist.” Cooper said Miller has used the ALA as a resource for herself. “She believes in it so it was a really great fit,” Cooper said. The ALA offers programs helping children and families manage asthma; teaches coping skills for people living with lung disease; provides education about the dangers of tobacco products; and advocates for clean air—indoors and out. The ALA of Colorado Western Region has provided support and services to 19 counties in western Colorado since the early 1980s. “There will be door prizes and all kinds of fun stuff at the Adams Mark,” Watson said “It’s like a trick or treat kind of thing. It’ll be fun.” Tickets for the Saturday, October 30, show are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and may be purchased at Triple Play Records, 525 Main St., Fisher Liquor Barn, 2438 F Road, or by calling (970) 245-2120.