The award winning Rockford High School (RHS) Jazz Band was selected as one of six high school jazz bands to perform at the 39th annual Detroit Jazz Festival at Hart Plaza along the Detroit River. The Detroit Jazz Festival remains committed to its jazz heritage and features many regional performers ranging from Grammy-winning artists to the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra. The event attracts audience members of all backgrounds, ages and interests. The Festival ran through Labor Day weekend, August 31 – Sept. 3, in downtown Detroit.
“The students and I were beyond excited as this is the first time we have performed at the prestigious Detroit Jazz Festival”, according to director Cullen McCarthy. “You have to be invited to play. I performed there while in college and to now have a Rockford Band perform there is such an honor.”
Joining the 19 band members on stage were guest artists Diego Rivera, professor of Jazz studies at Michigan State University (MSU) and RHS alumnus Sam Corey on saxophone.
Rivera has conducted jazz workshops with the Rockford Jazz Band and performed with them on several occasions over the past two years. Corey, a 2017 graduate and a past Louis Armstrong Jazz Performer Award winner from RHS, is currently attending MSU where is studying jazz performance.
Each band was required to submit an audition tape to the Jazz Festival committee to be invited to play at the event. Six bands from the Michigan Scholastic Bands and Orchestra Association were chosen for this honor. In addition to Rockford, the Northview High School Jazz Band, under the direction of Greg Wells, also represented West Michigan at the festival.