6th Annual GRandJazzFest Presented by DTE Energy Foundation Sets New Record

The 6th annual GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation was the best yet, according to festival organizers, with record-setting crowds at Rosa Parks Circle on Saturday for the festival’s headliner performance. The festival spanned the weekend and also drew strong crowds for Sunday’s performances. Festival organizers said the event probably drew more than 11,000 people over the two days.

GRandJazzFest 2017 brought 11 diverse jazz performance acts to the Rosa Parks Circle stage at West Michigan’s only free, weekend-long jazz festival.

Saxophonist Richard Elliot headlined the 6th annual GRandJazzFest presented by the DTE Energy Foundation

“Richard Elliot knocked it out of the park,” GRandJazzFest Founder Audrey Sundstrom said. “He is known for his high energy and he did not disappoint. Crowds were dancing at Rosa Parks Circle and literally into the street.”

Performers in addition to Elliot included Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra with Edye Evans Hyde, Terry Lower / Jazz Expedition Sextet, Ed Stone and the Flowmasters, Tumbao Bravo, Bryan Lubeck, Blushing Monk, The Isaac Norris Project, organissimo, Four80East, and Nate Harasim & NILS featuring Brandon Willis.

“GRandJazzFest is truly a hallmark event for the Grand Rapids community, and this year’s Mayoral proclamation of August 2017 as Jazz Month in Grand Rapids further demonstrates the value this event brings to the city – from boosting local businesses to drawing visitors downtown to enjoy world-class jazz music,” said Faye Nelson, vice president, DTE Energy, and president and board chair of the DTE Energy Foundation. “The DTE Energy Foundation’s support ensures this festival continues to enliven the community and provides people with free access to renowned music, arts and cultural activities that are integral to a strong quality of life.”

The two-day GRandJazzFest festival was free for the sixth year in a row thanks not only to presenting sponsor DTE Energy Foundation but also to Diamond Sponsors: City of Grand Rapids, Gilmore Collection, GR and Jazz and IntentPR; Silver Sponsors: Corporative Live, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) and Grand Rapids Art Museum; Bronze Sponsors: Amway Hotel Corporation, Comcast, Consumers Energy, Experience Grand Rapids, Matt Huizenga Videography, Icon Sign, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Meijer, Mercy Health, MoxieMen and Steelcase; and many others at the Friends Sponsor level (see The festival also is grateful to the many people who helped to organize the event and gives a special “shout out” to numerous volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the weekend, plus Gilmore Collection for its excellent catering services, as well as to performer Bryan Lubeck (and his sponsors Godin and Guitar Center) who organized the Family Guitar Tent.

GRandJazzFest Founder Audrey Sundstrom also acknowledged the all-volunteer board of GR and Jazz, the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that produces GRandJazzFest. Board members include Chris Arnold, Rob Brandt, Desiree Foster, Steve Hilger, Molly Klimas, Krista Koster, George Navarro, Isaac Norris, Eddie Tadlock, Victoria Upton, Dee Washington, Robert Womack and board member emeritus Patti Flood.

“We could not put on this free community event without our generous and enthusiastic board, performers, sponsors, supporters and volunteers! We are so grateful to them!” Sundstrom said.

The seventh annual GRandJazzFest is planned for Aug. 18 and 19, 2018.