Detroit Jazz Festival Plans for In-Person Audiences

Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock, Gregory Porter, Keyon Harrold, Omar Sosa and the Havana-Detroit Jazz Project; and Kurt Elling’s Big BlindHeadline 2021 Detroit Jazz Festival

Jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater

DETROIT – The Detroit Jazz Festival presented by Rocket Mortgage, the world’s largest (and best) free jazz festival in the world, today unveiled plans for a return to in-person audiences at the annual Labor Day weekend event. The plans call for limited COVID-19 safety precautions and a revised festival footprint including three stages located in the downtown Hart Plaza and Campus Martius areas. 

The revised footprint allows for more open space and social distancing amongst audiences. Other safety precautions include signage placed throughout the festival to encourage health and safety practices, more video screens to help spread out crowds during performances, cashless payment at vendor booths, and hand sanitizing stations placed throughout the downtown footprint.

“We are thrilled to bring back in-person live audiences to the Detroit Jazz Festival,” said Chris Collins, president and artistic director, Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation. “With the strong support of city officials, we devised a festival plan that incorporates safety measures and acknowledges the ongoing concerns some jazz patrons may have for attending outdoor events during the pandemic,” said Collins. “Overall, nothing beats the experience of live, in-person jazz performances at our stages and we look forward to showcasing the exciting artistry, dynamism and diversity of our artists delivering true jazz to our audiences.”

Rochelle Riley, Director of Arts and Culture, thanked festival officials for working with the City to ensure a safe environment for live music.  “This is the best news for music, for Detroit, and for a national and global audience that came to a virtual festival a million-strong last year,” Riley said. “But it’s time to add live music, so for those fans who have been calling asking whether they can come home or come visit or come to stay awhile, the answer is a safe yes! And we at the City hope that residents and visitors will get vaccinated so we can keep the progress going and bring back even more live music. The pandemic is not over, but it could be. Let’s keep pushing!”

n its 42nd year, the Detroit Jazz Festival begins on Friday, September 3 and runs through Monday, September 6. 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 HancockGregory PorterKeyon HarroldOmar Sosa and the Havana-Detroit Jazz Project; and Kurt Elling’s Big Blind.

The Detroit Jazz Festival is free to the public. 
Also returning this year is “Detroit JAZZ Fest LIVE!” For just $20, Festival attendees and out-of-towners unable to make it to the Festival can Livestream performances from all stages, all four days via their smartphone, tablet or desktop. Additionally, the live streaming services feature select performances throughout the year from the Foundation’s year-round initiatives, Festival schedules, maps, and more. Register for the Livestream at 

About the Detroit Jazz Festival FoundationUnder the leadership of President and Artistic Director Chris Collins, the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization that presents jazz and educational workshops throughout the year. The Foundation produces the Detroit Jazz Festival, which is the signature event for the Foundation and the largest free jazz festival in the world. The Festival is also a major tourist attraction for the City of Detroit, with 26 percent of its audience coming from out of state. For more information, visit

The Foundation receives grant funding from the Kresge Foundation, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Arts Midwest, D’Addario Foundation, and Carolyn Wanzo and the Purify Wanzo CTAA Endowment at Wayne State University. Hundreds of individuals also contribute to the Festival through membership and donations. Major corporate partners include presenting sponsor, Rocket Mortgage, DTE Foundation, MGM Grand Detroit, Michigan Hispanic Collaborative, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Bingham Legal Group, Central Michigan University and George Johnson & Company. Media partners include Fox 2 DetroitWJR Newstalk 760 AMWEMU-FMDownBeatJazzTimesWDET-FM 101.9WRCJ 90.9 FM and Detroit Public Television.

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