Woodwind great and master teacher Mr. Ernest (Ernie) Rodgers passed away on Tuesday, June 10th. Rodgers was known throughout the country as a giant in the jazz community.
A Detroit resident since 1947, Rodgers graduated from the famed Cass Technical High School and went on to earn degrees from Wayne State University and Eastern Michigan University. Rodgers went on to play with many top jazz artists, including Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, and Wynton Marsalis. He also recorded and toured with several Motown Records artists during his long professional career.
Rodgers taught in the Detroit Public School system for forty years, where he founded the internationally famous Northwestern High School Jazz Ensemble. The ensemble toured Michigan, Ohio, Canada and Europe, bringing worldwide recognition to both Northwestern HS and to the Detroit Public Schools. His former students include bassists Ralphe Armstrong and Marion Hayden, and saxophonist James Carter. Rodgers was also a long-time Wayne State University faculty member and fixture on campus, where he made a significant impact on the hundreds of student he worked with.
In 2009, Rodgers received the Detroit Jazz Festival’s prestigious Jazz Guardian Award.
He later returned to the Detroit Public Schools in 2012 as an educator-in-residence in the Detroit Jazz Festival’s DPS Jazz Infusion Program. Rodgers assisted significantly with the revitalization of the jazz program at Cass Technical High School, his alma mater.
- Sunday, June 15th Viewing 12:00 - 8:00 pm Swanson's Funeral Home on West McNichols
- Monday, June 16th Musical Tribute 4:00 - 8:00 pm New Hope MBC 23455 W. Nine Mile Road, Southfield, Mi
- Tuesday, June 17th Family Hour & Home Going Service 10 & 11:00 am New Hope MBC