It’s summer SOULstice at Breck |

It’s summer SOULstice at Breck

KIMBERLY NICOLETTIsummit daily news
Special to the DailyHazel Miller plays Breckenridges town party tonight.

BRECKENRIDGE – There’s soul behind those quaint little Victorian buildings on Main Street, and it’s comin’ out full force today at Breckenridge’s Summer SOULstice.The free town party revs up from 4-9 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center and features headliner Hazel Miller and opener Wendy Woo.While many people associate Hazel Miller with her old band, Hazel Miller and the Caucasians, Miller has a new, funkier sound laden with a heavier dance beat.”We’re more soulful, and I think more danceable,” Miller said. “That’s our goal, to get everybody up and moving. After all, it’s the cheap woman’s exercise.”

Though she has a reputation as a blues singer, she describes her music as a mix of rhythm-and-blues and danceable jazz-infusion with one or two blues songs thrown into the mix. “I think because people see a full-figured black woman, they automatically think I sing the blues,” she said, laughing. “But I do a little bit of everything. I’ve had people write me and request information on which shows will be blues only. I just tell them, ‘I play whatever the spirit moves me to play. You’ll have to take your chances like everyone else.'”She began her career 28 years ago in Louisville, Ky., and has shared the stage with the Temptations, Julian Lennon, Leo Kottke, Bob Weir, Herbie Hancock and James Taylor, among others.Since moving to Denver in 1984, she has regularly performed with Big Head Todd and the Monsters and has belted out her blues, jazz and gospel for President Bill Clinton, the Denver Broncos and the Colorado Avalanche. Woo grew up with the Beat – not rhythmic beats – but Beat Poets, such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs.

Her parents taught at Naropa University in Boulder, where she spent wild summers surrounded by art and poetry. She blends the soul, vibrancy and wild-child attitude she grew up with in Boulder into a pure, powerful groove.”I became a musician because it was the only thing I could do,” she said. “I was a recluse as a teenager, and music was the only thing I liked.”Her songs range in style from down-and-dirty blues to summer-day sambas and wistful ballads, but one common theme shines through – pure emotion.Westword magazine has named her the best singer and songwriter for the past three years, no doubt based on her spirited songwriting and vibrant personality.

“She puts off a feel-good energy to her audience,” Front Range fan Debbie Miller said. “She tries to connect with everybody on a personal level. She points people out in the audience, even if it’s the second time she’s seen them. It seems like she knows everybody in her audience personally.””She’s about as genuine as a person I’ve ever met,” sponsor Suzanne Lainson said. “She has soul both in a musical sense and a personal sense. She shares herself with the audience. You can meet her for five minutes, and you feel like you’ve known her for a long time. There’s a purity to her music. You go away feeling like you really had a genuine experience.”Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at

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