The New Year is off to a busy start for Edye Evans Hyde. The Grand Rapids-based performer is playing shows throughout February, including two this week in Grand Rapids.
On Thursday, Feb. 8, Hyde plays the Concerts Under the Stars music series at the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium, followed by a performance on Saturday, Feb. 10 as part of LowellArts new series LowellArts House Concerts.
Each performance will offer something unique to the audience. Hyde said for Concerts Under the Stars she will be joined by a trio of musicians, while the LowellHouse performance will include duets with her husband, musician Mike Hyde.
But, she said because its February, both audiences can expect “lots of jazzy love songs.”
Hyde is excited by the two very different venues. “The planetarium will be different because it’s at the planetarium. That is going to be really cool because of the atmosphere.”
Hyde said her performance will include visual imagery projected on the planetarium ceiling, which will be especially fun.
New venues like the planetarium, the library (which offers a Music in the Stacks concert series) and other unique places keep cropping up around Grand Rapids, giving Hyde even more opportunities to share her talents with local audiences. She said it’s really creating a lot of opportunities for jazz musicians in the city that didn’t exist before.
“Well it is amazing,” Hyde said of the growth. “I think that the music scene, and the arts scene in general, is growing with Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids is changing so quickly and it’s growing. . . . It’s great to have all these different venues, and people are experiencing different forms of art, where we never really had the opportunity before in Grand Rapids.
“It’s really a positive thing for jazz musicians, too. I think it keeps jazz musicians here because we go out so much to look for work and now we actually have a lot that keeps us here, so that’s good.”
Hyde expects to keep a similar performance schedule this year to last year, and will likely play many of the same venues, concert series’ and festivals as the year before as well.
When she isn’t performing, Hyde is busy with the Ebony Road Players, a theater group she founded with the mission to “inspire, educate and engage cultures of our community with high-quality theater productions focused on the Black experience.”
Hyde said she is currently working on creating events around the Loving Day Celebration. “The Loving Day Celebration is the recognition of the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case of 1967, which struck down laws that had criminalized interracial marriage. We will probably have three different events during that week.”
She is also finalizing decisions for the group’s fall performance. Last year, Ebony Road Players staged “Detroit ’67,” which Hyde told GR|MAG was “the most significant production for Ebony Road Players since the company was organized in 2013.”
“Detroit ’67 was a big show for us, and it was great to collaborate with SiTE:LAB and with the Grand Rapids African American Museum,” she said.
Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, Ebony Road Players is fulfilling the vision Hyde originally had when she founded it. “We are at this point of growing – we don’t want to grow too big – but we want to be able to include more of the community in the things we are doing.
“So it’s going well. After five years you can see where you came from and where you want to go, and right now we just want to be more involved in the community and with different organizations that see performing arts, especially for underrepresented voices, being an important part of what we do in Grand Rapids.”
Hyde said to stay tuned to find out what’s next for Ebony Road Players and head out this week to catch one or both of her performances.
“I just want everybody to come out and have a good time,” she said.
*Photo courtesy of GRandJazzFest