Clarence “Big” Miller
(b. 1922, Sioux City, Iowa; d. 1992, Edmonton, Alberta)
Big Miller was a major influence on the Edmonton jazz and blues community as well as a substantial presence across Canada and around the world. During a Canadian tour in the early 1970s, Big decided to stay in Canada, and became a Canadian citizen in 1973. This was a pivotal moment for Edmonton. Big was one of the first significant blues artists to make the commitment to live and work in Edmonton, and as one of the last of the Kansas City blues shouters, he brought a new level of musicianship, professionalism, experience and cachet to Edmonton’s fledgling blues scene. Early in his illustrious career, Big performed and was associated with music greats such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, Jay McShann and Edmonton’s own big-band leader Tommy Banks. Together, Big and Tommy toured Europe, performed at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in 1978, and won a Juno award in the jazz category in 1979 for a similarly titled recording. There have been many tributes and accolades bestowed on Big – from a National Film Board of Canada documentary titled “Big and the Blues” to a tip of the hat from his dear and close friend Jay McShann, who composed a fitting piece titled “Big Miller’s Blues”. In 1985 Clarence “Big” Miller was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Laws from Athabasca University. It seems appropriate that Big recorded “Live at Athabasca University”, a recording produced by Stony Plain Records. Big Miller was one of the finest music ambassadors that Edmonton ever had, leaving an unforgettable legacy.