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Marion Hayden: 2016 Jazz Hero, A Mother To Her Family And Detroit Jazz Community

Marion Hayden Jazz
Daryl Smith
Detroit Bassist, Marion Hayden is a 2016 Jazz Hero

Jazz Appreciation Month is supposed to end in April, but in the Detroit area we extended it by a week so that bassistMarion Hayden could receive her 2016 Jazz Hero Award from the Jazz Journalist’s Association.  

There is no one more deserving of the award than Marion.  She is a trailblazer in many ways.  Born in Detroit in 1952, Marion had already envisioned her musical path by taking up the acoustic bass at the age of 12 in 1964.  Detroit jazz legends Wendell Harrison and Marcus Belgrave mentored Marion while her instructors at Detroit’s legendary Cass Tech and Henry Ford High Schools encouraged her to pursue her jazz and educational dreams.  

Marion completed her studies at Michigan State University and The University Of Michigan.  A period of learning the ropes or – paying your dues (as jazz musicians might say), followed when Marion played in nightclubs with Charles Boles, Teddy Harris, Harold McKinney and many others. 

What is equally heroic about Marion negotiating her way through the male-dominated jazz landscape is that Marion also lived the family life, nurturing her children who have all gone on to live successful, creative lives.  She is a role model for today’s young women who wish to pursue an artistic career yet have a family.  Marion Hayden is living proof that it can be done well. 

The award ceremony is part of free concert which will also feature the University Of Michigan Jazz Ensemble directed by Ellen Rowe g at Virgil M. Carr Center in Detroit. In the narrative for Marion’s Jazz Journalist’s Award, writer W. Kim Heron summed up Marion’s attitude and why she is the perfect choice for the award:


Marion had long addressed students at both college-university and secondary school level, currently as faculty in Michigan’s Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisational Studies, as Detroit Fest educator-in-residence and as director of the Carr center’s summer jazz program. Since her mentors Belgrave, Cox, Walden and Harris, among others, have passed, she is now one of the key musicians passing on their knowledge in classrooms and bandstands, keeping their compositions alive, parsing their styles, carrying on their traditions. Marion Hayden is a Jazz Hero, the Detroit Way.

We thank Marion for making time to talk with WEMU about the Jazz Hero award, her life, her family and her continuing jazz dreams.  We wish Marion Hayden continued success and a very happy Mother’s Day.
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— Linda Yohn is the WEMU Music Director, and host of 89.1 Jazz. Contact her at734.487.2229, twitter @LindaYohn, or email her at lyohn@emich.edu

Linda Yohn simply cannot remember a day in her life that was not filled with music. Her early life was full of changes as the daughter of a well-respected cancer research scientist who moved his family about, but one thing was constant: the love of music instilled by her mother. So, when it seemed life was too hard to bear, young Linda would listen to her radio, play her guitar, dance her heart out and sing at the top of her lungs. So, it isn’t so strange that “older” Linda still does all those things!
Patrik is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and functions as the New Media/Social Media manager for 89.1 WEMU.