For 40 years, jazz promoter Geraldine de Haas has been an icon in the Chicago music scene. On Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm, she joins us for one last visit to discuss her influential career before she moves out of town.
We spoke with Chicago jazz vocalist Tammy McCann about Geraldine de Haas.
What impact has Geraldine de Haas had on the jazz scene in Chicago?
Her name and her husband's name are woven into the legacy of this city, and they’ve done so very much, not just for me, but for jazz here in Chicago. I would say she's had an enormous impact. Very few people know that she is the origin of the Chicago Jazz Festival. She started it, and it was so successful that it's been a tradition ever since. She also started the South Shore Jazz Festival. Both those festivals are decades-long events that she spearheaded. Her spirit is amazing, and her family is just a force of nature. They are so talented.
I think one of the things that was really a priority for her was that jazz music was accessible to the public. She wanted children on the South Side of Chicago to hear artists like Duke Ellington and Betty Carter. She wanted the music to be free and accessible so it could shape their lives.
How has she helped other performers in Chicago?
Her love of music and voice really was the cornerstone of everything she did. She’s woven into the fabric of Chicago jazz, and she’s also woven into the fabric of so many musicians who she gave agency to. She gave them the ability to be showcased and to develop. She was just always there with good advice, support, and an opportunity for you to perform. She opened her heart and stage to everyone. We were all her children, and all her projects. I can’t say enough. I could serenade her.
What does she mean to you?
She has done so much for me and my career. Since I was 18 years old, she set the standard and helped me develop . I still perform songs that I learned from her. She shaped me.