Detroit's Jazz Festival

NOW OPEN in the Detroit Artists Showcase

The Detroit Jazz Festival recently celebrated its 40th year and is currently the largest free jazz festival in the world. The “Jazz Fest”, which takes place every year during Labor Day weekend, was founded in 1980 by Robert McCabe, then president of the non-profit coalition the Detroit Renaissance Foundation. In 1979, a group of jazz supporters took the idea of creating a North American affiliate for the famous Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland to McCabe, who spearheaded the creation of the festival with support from former Detroit Mayor, Coleman A. Young. 

First known as the Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival, it was formed with the intent to become a tourist attraction and to provide world-class entertainment. In 1991, the festival merged with Detroit’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, where it resided until 2005 when Detroit philanthropist and Mack Avenue Records Chairman Gretchen Valade became the major sponsor. Under Valade’s leadership the festival has tripled in size, covering three blocks allowing for additional stages and space for food vendors and other activities. (Artistic Director Chris Collins, has led the festival for the last eight years.)

Over one million music lovers flock to the heart of Detroit to attend this festival annually! See vibrant posters and memorabilia from the Jazz Fest's four decades of history in this new exhibition.