Jazz vocalist Edye Evans Hyde is passionate about music in general, but jazz is her go-to, all-American, art in the form of music genre. From traditional to smooth to funky to improv, Edye knows jazz provides freedom of performance and freedom of the soul.
"Jazz is one of those art forms you can put yourself into and make it your own," Edye said.
An internationally traveled performer, Edye grew up in the Grand Rapids area and knew from a young age that she loved to sing. "I was always (singing) in the privacy of my bedroom. I always pretended I was singing along with my records," she said. But in high school, inspiration dawned. "In eleventh grade I discovered musicals and went to see Oliver. I just loved the fact that you could get on stage and sing."
At Grand Rapids Community College, Edye enrolled in music courses and started singing jazz with different campus groups. "I guess I was pretty good, because I kept doing it! But for me it was surprising that people kept asking me to sing. I just thought it was fun."
Edye kept singing, recorded CDs, went on tour, and stayed involved locally. "I use my voice for everything," she said. Edye teaches jazz performance and singing—geared mainly toward jazz and pop genres. "The rest of the time I perform either in theater or jazz. I do voice work—commercials and voice-over work."
Take in Edye's talent for yourself at this year's GrandJazzFest, August 17 and 18. For the second year in a row, Edye will perform with the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra opening performances on Saturday night. On Sunday evening, listen to Edye performing solo. GrandJazzFest is a "needed" event in Grand Rapids, the second largest city in Michigan, Edye said. "It's a huge cultural area, and we have lots of theater, lots of music opportunities, ArtPrize. It's absolutely a huge arts area, and jazz should definitely be a part of that."
Written by: Erika Fifelski is West Michigan Woman magazine's staff writer. She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in journalism. Erika was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Photo: Provided by Edye Evans Hyde