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September 24, 2009

Vocal Legend Big Miller Honoured

Written by
cindy mcleod

jazz news, Canada

Big Miller

Honouring Big Miller
Unveiling of Statue
Big Miller Park, Edmonton

Statue Unveiling Pays Tribute to Jazz & Blues Singer

Edmonton pays respect to jazz & blues vocal great Big Miller, when the unveiling of a sculpture of the singer by Danek Mozdzendski is unveiled on Saturday, September 26, at Big Miller Park on Tommy Banks Way.

Big Miller made his home in Edmonton in 1970, two decades into his illustrious career that included sharing the stage with legends as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Dizzie Gillespie, and Miles Davis, among them.

Born in Sioux City, Iowa on December 18, 1922, by 1949 Miller’s career was in full bloom, singing with the Lionel Hampton and Jay McShann Orchestras. Joining Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra in 1954, he recorded with the group and created a stir with his appearances at major clubs including New York’s Birdland, Chicago’s Cotton Club and Detroit’s Flame Showbar.

Due to racial tensions in the States, Big began touring internationally and formed a booking agency. He relocated first to Australia, then Hawaii before returning to the U.S. to support his United Artists record Evolution of a Blues Song.

Finding himself stranded in Vancouver when a tour ran out of capital, he worked his way across Canada on his way back to the U.S., including stopping in Edmonton to appear at several clubs including Tommy Banks’ Embers. Falling in love with the city, he relocated in 1970 and in 1973, became a Canadian citizen.

Big appeared in venues across Alberta and at international festivals, winning a JUNO award with Tommy Banks for a live recording made at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival. The National Film Board of Canada documented his life in the film “Big and the Blues” (1981) and in 1985, Miller was honoured with a Doctorate in Humanities from Athabasca University.

Dr. Clarence “Big” Miller died of a heart attack in June, 1992. His memory still lives.

for more info visit www.yardbirdsuite.com

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