SEMJA’s Ron Brooks Award to Marion Hayden

Detroit bassist, bandleader, and educator Marion Hayden has been chosen as this year’s winner of the Ron Brooks Award from SEMJA. On hearing the news that she had received this award, Hayden was delighted since Brooks was one of her heroes and a fellow bass player.

Hayden has been active on the Detroit jazz scene since the age of 15, early on she was mentored by trumpeter Marcus Belgrave and saxophonist Wendell Harrison and later by pianists Teddy Harris Jr., Kenn Cox, Charles Boles, and Buddy Budson, and drummer Roy Brooks. In turn she has mentored scores of up-and-coming jazz students at area universities and high schools. In 1989 Hayden was a co-founder with Miche Braden and others of the pioneering all-women jazz ensemble Straight Ahead which recorded three albums for Atlantic.

Hayden has been a first-call bass player in Detroit for a number of years and has appeared with many local and national artists, including Bobby McFerrin, Nancy Wilson, Geri Allen, Steve Turre, Lester Bowie, James Carter, Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Frank Morgan, Jon Hendricks, Hank Jones, Kirk Lightsey, Bobby Hutcherson, Larry Willis, Vanessa Rubin, Sheila Jordan, Mulgrew Miller, Annie Ross and many others. Recently she has appeared regularly with the Detroit Jazz Festival All-Stars led by tenorist and festival director Chris Collins. She is also a member of drummer Sean Dobbins’ Modern Jazz Messengers.

The Ron Brooks Award is given annually to Detroit musicians, educators, or broadcasters, who have made significant contributions to the Detroit jazz community. Previous awardees include Ernie Rodgers, Louis Smith, George Benson, Kenn Cox, Matt Michaels, Bess Bonnier, Ed Love and Hazen Schumacher. Hayden will receive her award when Straight Ahead appears at the Father’s Day Brunch for the Michigan Jazz Festival at noon on June 19 at Schoolcraft College in Livonia. Tickets for the Brunch can be purchased at