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By Mike McKibbin

The Hazel MIller Band, with Miller and Rich Lamb, bass, Dana Marsh, piano, Dave Camp, sax and flute, and Brian Mikulich, drums will perform free concerts at CMC in Rifle and Leadville April 24 and 25, respectively.

Mom’s advice paid off for Hazel Miller.

It led the now-popular singer to leave her home as a young adult in Louisville, Ky., and eventually travel the world, performing jazz, gospel, blues and R&B.

“When I was 16, she saw me perform in a show and said, ‘You’re good at this. Go, get out of Louisville and see the world,’” Miller recalled. “She wanted me to branch out. So I did.”

While she didn’t quite make it to her destination of Los Angeles, California’s loss was Colorado’s gain, as Miller made Denver her home base for more than three decades.

Miller and her band will perform a free concert at Colorado Mountain College’s Rifle campus at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 24. This concert is sponsored by Chevron, with lodging provided by WPX Energy. An after-concert reception will be provided by Grand River Health. Hazel Miller and her band will perform in the Clough Auditorium at the Rifle campus, 3695 Airport Road.

They will also perform a free concert at the Climax Molybdenum Leadership Center, 901 South Highway 24, at Colorado Mountain College’s Leadville campus at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 25. This concert is sponsored by Colorado Mountain College ArtShare.

Meeting people highlights Miller’s travels

“Traveling is the best kind of education, too,” Miller said. “You meet so many different people at their levels. And one thing I always see is how we’re all more alike than we are different.”

The band has toured North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Central America and has appeared in countless festivals, concerts and fundraisers. Last winter, Miller toured the U.S. with Big Head Todd and the Monsters, marking the 19th year the two bands have performed together.

The summer of 2014 featured festival appearances in Grand Junction, Del Norte, Pagosa Springs, Frisco, Breckenridge, Erie, Boulder and Telluride, not to mention Mississippi, New Mexico and Wyoming. The band has appeared many times at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheater as the headliner and as an opening act.

“I never get tired of traveling in Colorado,” Miller said.

Adding to music that people know

The music Miller and her band plan to perform will combine five different “jazz experiences,” she said, including swing, bebop and smooth jazz, along with the blues and gospel.

“We like to make the music enjoyable,” she said. “We took a song written by Stevie Nicks (of Fleetwood Mac), called ‘Dreams,’ and added a smooth jazz tempo with a layer of continental jazz feel. But people still recognize the song, because it’s Fleetwood Mac.”

Miller said the band also put a “funky dance beat” to Lee Ann Womack’s country hit, “I Hope You Dance.”

“We think it’s all right to like every kind of music because it all blends together in the end,” she said. “It’s all music. We hope they like it enough to get up and dance. If we don’t move them, it’s very disappointing.”

Colorado audiences are usually quite active, though.

“I think it’s that Western pioneer spirit, and the fact that Colorado loves all kinds of music,” she said. “It’s almost like they’re waiting for you and they never let you down. So when they jump up and dance, that’s our greatest accomplishment.”

For more information about the Hazel Miller Band in concert, call 970-947-8367. Find more about the vocalist and her band at hazelmiller.biz.