Mary Anne Hayes Passes Away

There are some few, or far between, individuals who are dedicated to the music we love that could be deemed “jazz angels” — a supporter who truly loves music with their, time, money, hearts and souls, who are patrons rather than patronizing; one whose soul is evident, who transcends styles, color, creed or even preconceptions of what they think the music should represent.

Such a selfless, blessed person was Mary Anne Hayes. She was a part of a small but ever present group of true listeners that graced many concert events, but mostly club dates at the Bird of Paradise, the Del Rio, the Old Town and the Firefly Club in the 1980s, 1990s and beyond. But with her husband, Mary Anne’s support goes back to the 1960s.

Along with the late Nancy Davis and Peg Craig, Judy Alcorn, Judy Baker, Carrie Bachman and Kathy Horn, Hayes helped spearhead the initial movement of the Southeastern Michigan Jazz Association, and the support system of the then all-jazz radio station WEMU-FM. She had her favorites, including Paul Keller, Paul VornHagen, the Ron Brooks Trio, Bill Heid, Susan Chastain, Jake Reichbart and many local heroes and national figures coming through the area.

This writer recalls numerous phone calls from Mary Anne Hayes while doing my radio show, not necessarily to make a request, but to chat with a friend who happened to be playing music she enjoyed. Inspired by the legends as well as the locals, Hayes was an adept and poignant poet who had her works published and distributed to those who cared.

As posted on Facebook, VornHagen reported “the daughter of Mary Anne Hayes informed us that ‘The Jazz Lady’ passed away peacefully in her sleep last Friday, October 6. She would often attend gigs, with her husband at the Del Rio and, after he passed away, by herself, so many times taking a cab to the Bird of Paradise or the Firefly Club. She penned a complete collection of poems with her outlook on the jazz scene and just life in general — positive, humorous and loving. Rest In Peace, my dear friend, Mary Anne.”

Janet Tenaj commented Hayes’ writings where Paul Keller composed music with lyrics written by Tenaj inspired by the poems of Mary Anne Hayes. Jerry Brabanec recalled her cheering on the II-V-I Orchestra.
Mary Anne Hayes was up to her death a Board Member of SEMJA. She died peacefully at her home in Ann Arbor. She was about to celebrate her 89th birthday. Hers was a unique soul who will be dearly missed.