Hazel Miller performs June 3 at Vail Jazz’s First Fridays in Edwards | VailDaily.com

Hazel Miller performs June 3 at Vail Jazz’s First Fridays in Edwards

Hazel Miller was the featured artist at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships at Beaver Creek and Vail, and she returns June 3 for a free performance in Edwards as part of First Fridays.
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If you go ...

What: Hazel Miller performs as part of Vail Jazz’s First Fridays.

Where: Riverwalk Backyard Amphitheatre in Edwards.

When: 5 p.m., June 3. Music starts at 6 p.m.

Cost: Free. Vendor booths, food and drinks will be available for purchase.

More information: Picnics are welcome, but no pets are allowed and the event is non-smoking. Visit RiverwalkFirstFridays.com.

No excuses are necessary to make a celebration out of a Friday afternoon, especially as summer is finally getting underway. Like many other artistic communities across the country, Edwards is once again primed to make the first Friday of the month extra special throughout the summer.

First Fridays returns to the Riverwalk Backyard Amphitheatre in Edwards beginning at 5 p.m. today with free live music and a vendor booth bonanza featuring Crazy Mountain beer, wine and tasty specialties from Taco Rico and Loaded Joe’s.

Music kicks off at 6 p.m. with Hazel Miller. A Colorado favorite for three whopping decades, Miller was a featured artist at last year’s FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and is famous for, as she would say in her booming, contagious voice, getting the good times rollin’. It’s rare that any one member of her audience isn’t bobbing along, tapping a foot or enthusiastically shaking a booty. Here’s a little insight on the soul queen’s magic.

VAIL DAILY: As a little girl, how did you know you were born to sing?

HAZEL MILLER: I think it hit me around 8. I wanted to sing. My family watched Ed Sullivan EVERY Sunday night. Seeing Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Lannie Kazan, Sarah Vaughn and so many more gave my imagination all it needed to dream. I know that singing fed my heart. Singing also set me apart from my six brothers and sisters. That’s always a good thing for one in so many. It was a thrill when someone remembered my name.

VD: Who are your vocal inspirations?

HM: I like big voices. I love singers that take risks. I love singers that can reach you with their emotion. Aretha Franklin, Sara Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Bonnie Raitt and many more have helped me find my voice. I admit that I’ve borrowed style, expression and content from several singers, female and male. Nat King Cole, Steve Linwood, Stevie Wonder, Billy Eckstine … these are just a few of the singers that have sent my head spinning with new ideas.

VD: What is your absolute favorite number to perform and what makes it special?

HM: I don’t have an absolute favorite. Each performance is different and each audience is different. A favorite song is the song that moves my audience that night.

VD: How do you go about selecting the songs you’ll perform?

HM: I will prepare a set list and proceed to change it on stage to accommodate where the audience is at that time. This habit has become a great inside joke in the band. We will make the changes instantly to fit the mood of the audience. We get very excited when we can keep the energy rising and the audience dancing. We offer excitement … a release for a little while. It’s a real charge for all of us to be able to reach out and touch the audience.

VD: How do you know which selections will light up certain audiences?

HM: No one knows the answer to this question. You can only anticipate so much. You have a game plan of what to play then you fine-tune it as the performance continues.

VD: Do you have any rituals for preparing for a great show or decompressing afterward?

HM: I confess that my stage fright can be overwhelming; so I usually sing to myself or with Coco Brown. Coco is in the band also. Sometimes we just run over new songs in the dressing room or we laugh and talk. After a show I’m usually as hungry as a bear. I go home and find something that will fill that void, sit still and try to sleep. It’s not easy squashing that adrenaline.

VD: You have a unique ability to get people on their feet and hypnotized by your energy. Your voice has been described as a “force of nature.” What do you love most about performing?

HM: The smiling faces, the little kids dancing with their families and friends. Singing is like flying. This is the best band I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. We all support the others’ flight of fancy when we perform. It’s a group effort to find the right groove and right expression for each song.

VD: Of all the memorable feedback you’ve received over the years, has there been a standout comment from a fan or audience member?

HM: Audience members offer the nicest compliments. It’s always appreciated and absorbed into my memory. Once, my granddaughter told me I was her Aretha Franklin. I think that one warms me the most. It is humbling and exciting at the same time. When the band compliments me after a show it is special because it means that I went to a special place that I don’t always reach every night.

Picnics are welcome at Riverwalk First Fridays but no pets are allowed and the event is non-smoking. Riverwalk First Fridays are presented by Alpine Bank and Kaiser Permanente and is a project of KZYR 97.7 The Zephyr and Vail Jazz. For more information, call 1-800-VAIL-JAM or visit http://www.riverwalkfirstfridays.com. To check out the 2016 lineup of Grammy winners and musical icons at the summer-long 22nd annual Vail Jazz Festival, visit http://www.vailjazz.org.

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