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Big Miller
Clarence Horatius "Big" Miller was born in Sioux City, Iowa on December 18, 1922. His mother was the descendent of black slaves and his father was a preacher of mixed black and Sioux origin. As a teenager, Miller's family moved to Topeka, Kansas. There, he studied trombone and bass in high school. He also began developing his singing voice in the style of a Kansas City blues shouter. By 1949, Big began singing with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and became a feature performer with the Jay McShann Orchestra. In 1954, after five years with Jay McShann, Miller joined the Fletcher Henderson Reunion Orchestra. It was with the Henderson Orchestra that Big did his first recording and it was in this period that his career really began to take off. He became a popular performer in renowned jazz venues such as Birdland in New York, the Cotton Club in Chicago, and Detroit's Flame Showbar.

Increasingly discouraged by racial tensions in the United States, Miller began touring considerably in other countries. In 1967, he decided to relocate to Australia and then Honolulu. He continued to perform but became a booking agent as well, forming the Milro Big MillerAgency with Mary Roth. However, Miller soon found himself back in North America in support of his United Artists record Evolution of the Blues Song.

When the tour ran out of money, Big found himself stranded in Vancouver. He ended up working his way across Canada to get back to the United States. He played several clubs in Edmonton including Tommy Banks' The Embers. In the next few years, Miller continued to tour fairly extensively across Canada always returning to Edmonton to play at the Embers, The Saxony, or the Sheraton Caravan Penthouse. Here he felt safe from much of the racial prejudice that had plagued him in the United States. Loving the city, in 1970, Big made Edmonton his permanent home and in 1973 became a proud Canadian citizen.

Miller continued to play in bars and hotels across Alberta as well as international festivals. In 1979, he and Tommy Banks won a JUNO Award for a live recording they made at the renowned Montreax Jazz Festival in Switzerland. In 1981, the National Film Board of Canada made a documentary of his life entitled Big and the Blues. In 1985, he was honoured with an honorary doctorate in the humanities from Athabasca University. A performer to the end, Dr. Clarence "Big" Miller died of a heart attack in June 1992. Throughout his career he had performed with jazz legends such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Dizzie Gillespie, and Miles Davis, just to name a few.

Today, the Big Miller Bandwagon Committee are campaigning to have a life-size bronze statue of Big placed in a park setting names Big Miller Park near the Yardbird Suite on Tommy Banks Way in Edmonton as a permanent tribute to this musical giant.
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