DENVER (CBS4) – For almost 30 years, Hazel Miller has wowed and entertained Denver’s music lovers. She got her first regular singing gig in the winter of 1985.
But a Catholic priest discovered her talent in third grade when she got sent to the hall as a punishment.
“My brother and I got in trouble,” Miller recalled, “and I had my face in the corner and knew I was going to get a whooping when I got home.
“I started singing. Father snatched me out and had me sing with the 8th graders for a Christmas pageant. I realized that I really like that so I kept doing it.”
Like most talented singers, Miller finds it hard to pin down her favorite genre.
“It all depends on how I’m feeling that day, who’s my favorite. There are people who lift me up when I’m down.
“I like to listen to Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Riatt. When I just need to calm down, I listen to jazz.”
That same practice of mixing music to moods extends to taking her audience into account when planning a set list.
“If we’re doing a wedding, we want to do something that’s going to keep them up and dancing. If we’re doing a club, we want to do something that’s mellow and easy listening.”
She’s attracted legions of fans during her time on stage and Miller and her band have played a lot of stages.
“Everywhere from Red Rocks to Vail, Aspen, Telluride,” she said. “I played all the major festivals, played all the A-rooms, all the B-rooms, all the dives.”
Miller appreciates just how vibrant the music scene is in Denver and all across Colorado. She said other musicians understand just what the Mile High City has to offer.
“A lot of bands come here and all of the sudden, they’re an overnight sensation but they’re only an overnight sensation in the sense they’ve been working for years but people are just getting to know them.”
Miller gives back to that community, working with young musicians. While she said she wasn’t qualified to be a voice coach, she does have a few tips about style and a lesson or two about endurance.
“You have to believe in yourself and you have to take rejection well because you’re going to be more rejection than acceptance.
“As you gain acceptance, stay as humble as you were when you were being rejected.”
And her final word of advice for young musicians? “Get a good lawyer because you will get burned without one.”
While she’s honest about the hardships of a musical career, Miller also embraces every part of it and is ready to party on Independence Eve.
“It’s going to be an incredible night of music and fireworks. A whole lot of dancing, a whole lot of picnicking, a whole lot of families.
“The culmination of all that music will be some incredible fireworks. I, for one, love fireworks. I’ll take them anywhere. It’s going to be a great evening.”
CBS4 is a proud partner of the Independence Eve event which kicks off at 8 p.m. on Thursday. CBS4’s Jim Benemann will be hosting.