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Virtual Detroit Jazz Festival Presented by Rocket Mortgage Garners Nearly One Million Viewers

Victoria Wasylak • News • November 17, 2020

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The Detroit Jazz Festival presented by Rocket Mortgage attracted a virtual global audience of nearly one million listeners/viewers during Labor Day weekend. Jazz enthusiasts —from across the country and in more than 30 countries – enjoyed the first-ever virtual live jazz festival, streamed and broadcast for free.

“This was a tremendous opportunity to showcase our Detroit world class talent and our Detroit sound to the global jazz community,” said Chris Collins, president and artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival. “Looking back, we can now truly appreciate the cultural event we created for the worldwide jazz community and all of the effort to keep our mission of free jazz alive during a global pandemic that sidelined most of the other major music festivals around the world. We’re humbled by the support we received to make the Detroit Jazz Festival presented by Rocket Mortgage happen this year and especially thankful for our Angel of Jazz Gretchen Valade, and everyone else who helped us achieve what is considered an unprecedented moment in jazz history.”

All performances took place on three large indoor sound stages at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, while maintaining COVID-19 safety precautions. Each stage mimicked the size, sound, lighting, crew and gear of traditional Festival stages.

The Rocket Community Fund is the philanthropic arm of the event’s presenting sponsor, Rocket Mortgage. Its Community Sponsorship team aims to support inclusive events and programming like the Detroit Jazz Festival that attract diverse audiences, spark new connections between people, place and culture, and contribute to the economic growth of Detroit. Rocket Mortgage has presented the Detroit Jazz Festival, the world’s largest free jazz festival, for the past four years.

“We are so thankful that we could put on this virtual event safely,” said Jasmin DeForrest, Director of Community Sponsorships at the Rocket Community Fund. “In the wake of the pandemic, it was clear that the global community needed a way to gather and celebrate. This festival provided that opportunity for nearly a million people around the world. We are making history.”

The event organizers believe elements of this new virtual format will be incorporated into future Detroit Jazz Festivals to maintain and foster the Festival’s “new” global audience.

“While nothing can replace live in-person jazz performances, we’re already in planning mode for next year and looking forward to capitalizing on the Festival’s expanded prominence through our continued investment in streaming and broadcast technologies,” Collins said.

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