John Stites, who recorded over 3000 albums at his Kalamazoo home studio from the mid-1980s to the mid-2010s, was one of the most highly regarded sound engineers in West Michigan. He often worked with top jazz artists and was recognized for his meticulous and warm recordings. After his death in 2019, a group of friends and supporters including his partner Sandy Schaefer formed a board and set out to fulfill John's desire to help jazz music flourish by creating the John Stites Jazz Awards.
The John Stites Jazz Awards, ranging from $5000 - $25,000, are some of the most generous awards in the jazz world. There are two kinds: awards for artistic development and awards to present jazz events. Applications will be accepted until October 1, 2021. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Sandy Schaefer and Tom Knific talk in detail about the award categories and about John Stites, the man behind the awards.