The 10th Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Singing Competition selects the top five finalists

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originally published: 10/14/2021

(NEWARK, NJ) – A world of jazz just minutes from home, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) has announced the top five finalists of the 10th Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Singing Competition. Drawn from over 160 entries from over 25 countries, these talented young applicants from around the world were assessed on vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation and swing ability. The five Top 5 finalists are: Andrea Miller from Costa Mesa, California; April May Webb from Edison, New Jersey; Arta Jēkabsone, born in Latvia, Jersey City, New Jersey; G. Thomas Allen of Chicago, Illinois; and Viktoria “Vik” Gečytė from Paris, France.

On November 14, 2021, they will face each other in person on the NJPAC stage in front of a live audience. Hosted by NJPAC Jazz Advisor and Grammy Award-winning multi-award winning bassist Christian McBride, “The SASSY Awards” will feature the five finalists in the competition, as well as McBride alongside one of the best female jazz singers. today, Dianne Reeves.

The finalists will perform before a panel of distinguished judges, including prominent jazz pianist Renee Rosnes (West Orange, New Jersey), president and CEO of WBGO Radio Steven A. Williams, former winner of international jazz competitions vocal Sarah Vaughan and Thelonious Monk. Jazzmeia Horn, Paterson guitarist / vocalist John PIzzarelli, and acclaimed singer and NJCU teacher Sheila Jordan. The first place winner of the SASSY Awards will receive a cash prize of $ 5,000, second place $ 1,500 and third place $ 500.

The competition recalls the humble beginnings of legendary jazz / NEA Jazz Master singer Sarah Vaughan (1924-1990) who in 1942 was a teenage girl from Newark and winner of an amateur singing competition at the Apollo Theater. That momentous night helped kick off the life’s work of one of the most influential and influential jazz singers in American musical history. The competition is also known as The Sassy Awards, a nod to the singer’s moniker. Previous winners include Cyrille Aimée, Jazzmeia Horn, Ashleigh Smith, Arianna Neikrug, Deelee Dubé, Quiana Lynell, Laurin Talese, Samara Joy, Gabrielle Cavassa and Tawanda Suessbrich-Joaquim. What has become one of jazz’s top annual vocal competitions, the SASSY Awards provide exceptional jazz singers with a one-of-a-kind platform to embark on a career in the music business and provide members of the public with a chance to discover the stars of jazz. of tomorrow. Young talented applicants from around the world are assessed on vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation, and swing ability.

Andrea Miller’s the voice has been described as moving, sensual and hypnotic. Influenced by Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan and Stevie Wonder, Andrea is currently heating up the international jazz scene. Andrea released her fifth album, It’s time to stay, with the San Gabriel 7, in 2021. In 2020, she is the headliner of the Bemol 5 Jazz Club in Lyon, France, after performing at the Festival Jazz De Polanco in Mexico City and Jazz at LACMA in Los Angeles in 2019. with and open for Jarreau during his 2017 European tour, just before his death. In addition to performing, Miller remains busy recording as a session singer and can be heard on recordings for Disney / Pixar, Paramount Pictures, NBC and Warner Brothers.

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April May Webb Unique vocal approach draws from a wide range of influences and multiple genres. April May, the first African-American woman to graduate from the William Paterson University Jazz Education Program, where she studied with the late great pianist Mulgrew Miller, is the co-founder, along with trumpeter Randall Haywood, of the jazz duo Sounds of A&R, alias SOAR Partners. in music and life, April and Randall create a distinct sound when they play together. In 2017, their self-titled debut album peaked at No. 14 in the national ranking Jazz week cards and landed on Jazz week The 100 best albums of this year. In 2018, Sounds of A&R toured with legendary jazz drummer TS Monk. In 2021, the two released their third studio album, Questions left unanswered, which rose to 12th nationally Jazz week graphics.

Latvian-born singer, songwriter and arranger based in New York Arta Jēkabsone won 1st prize at the prestigious Montreux Shure Jazz Voice Competition in Switzerland (2016), 2nd prize at Mid-Atlantic Jazz Voice competition (2017) and 3rd prize at Ella Fitzgerald International Vocal Competition (2019). In recent years, Arta has performed frequently at the Jazz Gallery in New York City, where she created most of her original musical projects, including her debut album. Light and reflections. During the pandemic, Arta performed at the Jazz Gallery Containment sessions alongside artists like Camila Meza, Aaron Parks, Dayna Stephens; in March 2021, she created her new multidisciplinary and bilingual show, Letters home, in the program. She received the Jazz Gallery Residency Commission grant in 2021.

Singer, composer and music teacher G. Thomas Allen is known for his remarkable vocal flexibility, warm timbre and cross-genre experimentation. He worked with the late David Baker and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, performing Duke Ellington: Sacred concerts at Strathmore Hall, and shared the stage with influencers such as Bobby Broom, Pharez Whitted and Dennis Luxion. As a conductor, he released his self-titled debut album in 2020, which reached No.1 on the iTunes jazz charts. Thomas is a two-time graduate from Morgan State University, with degrees in vocal performance and vocal communication. He is currently Professor of Jazz and Contemporary Vocals at ChiArts and the Faculty of Vocal at Columbia College Chicago (CCC).

Vik Gečytė, which appeared in the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Singing Competition, explored the New York jazz scene during his college days in the United States, becoming known for his scatter phrasing, refined phrasing, and infectious swing, as well as his talent with folk instruments, including clay whistles, kalimbas and kazoos. One of his main musical partners over the years has been Gene Perla, veteran American bassist, formerly with Elvin Jones, Sonny Rollins, Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan. Together, they have been touring and recording since 2008. Their last album, In the moment (PM Records, 2020) is a tribute to their collaboration with musicians in New York and Paris. Living in Paris since 2008, Vik leads several jazz and blues projects and performs regularly with big bands.

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located at One Center Street in downtown Newark, NJ, is America’s most diverse performing arts center and New Jersey’s arts, culture, education, and civic hub – where great shows and events improve and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings together diverse communities, providing access for all and showcasing the best artists in the state and the world while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its hometown. Through its extensive arts education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and art lovers. The NJPAC has attracted nearly 10 million visitors (including over 1.7 million children) since its opening in 1997, and maintains meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.


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