Vocalist Hazel Miller Inducted Into Colorado Music Hall of Fame

With a voice that charges any song with genuine soul and a magnetic personality, Hazel Miller has earned her spot in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

Hazel Miller
Photo by Paul Miller.

When Hazel Miller’s rental truck broke down en route to Los Angeles, dreams of being the next Aretha Franklin in tow, little did she know she’d become Colorado music royalty. Nearly four decades later, the bluesy, soulful chanteuse who’s spent decades serenading the Rockies and beyond has made a lasting impact on her adopted community. This month, she is being inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame alongside her frequent collaborators, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, during the band’s Red Rocks show on June 10. (She also turns 70 later this month—a jubilant milestone you can help her celebrate at Soiled Dove on June 30 and July 1.) We caught up with the artist to find out more about her journey from a serendipitous newcomer to a beloved legend of the Colorado music industry.

“I was going to go to L.A. and be the next Aretha Franklin, then we got stopped here in Denver. I had two weeks to get the kids in school, so we stayed.”

“Around ’88, I said, I am tired of working for other people and I put my own band together. And I never looked back.”

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“Coming from the South, Black people were not doing the blues ’cause we thought it was beneath us. I got out here and everybody’s first question: do you sing the blues? All I knew were these sleazy blues songs I learned from my father, but we said let’s do them. People loved them. Freaked me out.”

“Denver’s one of those places that whether you’re original or you’re in a cover band, if you’re good at what you do, they will support you.”

“When I first heard Big Head Todd & the Monsters, they weren’t huge yet. They were still traveling all around in their van with the trailer on the back. And then ‘Bittersweet’ came out. And if it hadn’t been for that girl not being able to make it to the CD release party to sing ‘It’s Alright’ at Boulder Theater … I learned the song and I’m still singing it. A thousand years later, I’m still singing it.”

“I got a call from a lady named Karen, and she goes, ‘Miss Miller?’ I said yes, are you calling about a wedding? She goes, ‘No, I’m calling to let you know that you’re going to be inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.’ I’m like, mm-hmm. She goes, ‘No, I’m serious.’”

“I’m not sure why they chose me, in all honesty. I’m glad they chose me. I just wish my guys could play that day.”

“No place in this country has a music scene like Denver. Not one—not Chicago, not L.A., not New York. I haven’t had a day job since 1986; I have made a living singing. It’s absolutely unique here.”

“If it’s got a beat, I want to hear it.”

“I’ve played all the city’s large venues, I’ve played all the little ones too. I like ’em all.”

“We have fans that will show up for us. I walk out on stage sometimes and people—the way they look up at us and smile. I don’t want to be the next Aretha Franklin. I wanna be me.”

“And the Hall of Fame. I’m still tripping on that one.”