Detroit has lost one of its greatest supporters of the city’s jazz music and arts scene. Gretchen Valade, the “Angel of Jazz,” passed away at her Grosse Pointe Farms home on Dec. 30, 2022. She was 97 years old. 

Gretchen Valade

Gretchen Valade | Photo from Wayne State University Giving

Valade was a prominent businesswoman and philanthropist. As the owner of the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe and Mack Avenue Records, Valade promoted the musical careers of many Detroit and international jazz musicians.

She was also a champion of countless Detroit jazz projects including the creation of a $10 million endowment fund for the Detroit Jazz Festival so it would remain free to attendees and, more recently, a $9.5 million donation to jazz studies and performance at Wayne State University. 

“Gretchen’s passing is a huge loss for the jazz community, standing should to shoulder with Nica de Koenigswarter.  Gretchen brought the world to Detroit. We will miss her and our music will carry on her legacy,” said Mack Avenue Records recording artist Emmet Cohen, a jazz pianist and composer.

In tribute to Valade’s legacy, WRCJ’s “The Swing Set” host Linda Yohn sat down with Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation President Chris Collins to talk about Valade’s passing and the impact that will be felt by her loss. “Her passion, commitment and vision were a legacy in itself,” Collins told WRCJ. 

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