NJPAC Announces 7th Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition Finalists
originally published: 10/11/2018
(NEWARK, NJ) -- On a Wednesday night in 1942, Newark teenager Sarah Vaughan went to the Apollo Theater to compete in an amateur singing contest. It was the chance to win $10 and a weeklong engagement performing on the Apollo stage. Instead, Vaughan's win launched a career and forever changed the art of jazz vocal music.
Now in its seventh year at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, also known as the SASSY Awards in a nod to Vaughan's nickname, announced the five jazz singers who will perform for the top prize honor on Sunday, November 18 at 3pm in NJPAC's Victoria Theater. This international jazz vocal competition honors the talent of its namesake by giving one outstanding performer a platform to embark on a career in the music business. The competition was established in 2012 by NJPAC and legendary jazz music visionary Larry Rosen.
The 2018 finalists of this international competition are Oleg Akkuratov (Moscow), Gabrielle Cavassa, (New Orleans), Olivia Chindamo, (New York), Toscha Comeaux (Las Vegas), and Laurin Talese(Philadelphia). The five finalists will perform before a panel of judges on the final day of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival (November 4-18) at NJPAC. The grand prize winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize as well as a guaranteed performance slot at the 2019 Newport Jazz Festival.
The competition has become a platform for a single outstanding jazz singer to gain widespread recognition in the music industry. Past winners include Cyrille Aimée, Jazzmeia Horn (winner of the 2015 Thelonious Monk Competition), Ashleigh Smith, Arianna Neikrug, Deelee Dubé, and last year's winner, Quiana Lynell.
The panel of judges include multi-Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride, NJPAC's Jazz Advisor; six-time Grammy nominated jazz vocalist-composer Nnenna Freelon; Mary Ann Topper, President of the Jazz Tree, Inc. artist management; WBGO Jazz 88.3FM radio personality Sheila Anderson, and trumpeter, conductor and composer Jon Faddis.
The article continues after this ad
Through three public rounds, public voting on the IndabaMusic.com, the field was narrowed to the five vocalists. Contestants were judged on vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation, and the ability to swing, with more than 600 submissions from men and women around the world.
NJPAC is proud to partner with TD Bank, the festival's title sponsor. For the 7th consecutive year, TD Bank's generous support and commitment to the arts has helped build the TD James Moody Jazz Festival into one of the most noteworthy jazz festivals in North America. "TD Bank is excited to sponsor and be a part of this jazz festival, which has grown into one of the country's best," said Martin Melilli, TD Market President. "We believe the opportunity to enrich our communities is both a privilege and a responsibility and TD is honored to support the jazz festival as an opportunity to enhance a more inclusive and culturally vital Newark."
Meet the Finalists
Pianist and vocalist Oleg Akkuratov, who was born blind, showed outstanding musical ability in pitch, musical memory and sense of rhythm from a very early age. A graduate of the Rostov State Conservatory in Russia, where he currently teaches, he studied at the Moscow State College of Pop and Jazz Music and the Institute of Music at the Moscow University of Culture and Arts. He has toured internationally as a member of the Igor Butman Quartet and the Moscow Jazz Orchestra. Akkuratov was the subject of Lyudmila Gurchenko’s film Colorful Twilight.
A young singer with a distinctive sound, Gabrielle Cavassa began her career in San Francisco, performing in jazz clubs like Club Deluxe, Black Cat, Small Wonder, and Yoshi’s. She graduated with a degree in jazz history from San Francisco State University, where she studied with saxophonist Andrew Speight, to whom she credits her love of bebop. Last year, she moved to New Orleans to further her lifelong study of music and performs weekly with both straight-ahead jazz and hip hop groups.
Australian vocalist Olivia Chindamo is a New York based musician who is best known for her natural and effortless ability to improvise, or scat. As the 2016 Bell Award winner for “Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year,” she became one of Australia’s most sought-after jazz vocalists and is now being recognized internationally. Chindamo studied with some of America’s finest jazz musicians at the Banff International Workshop in Jazz & Creative Music 2016, and has performed on stages of all sizes, such as Melbourne’s iconic Hamer Hall and The Basement in Sydney.
Toscha Comeaux, a native of Hartford, Conn., began her musical journey in church. Genres of music – classical, R&B, soul, rock’n’roll, pop – have always been a part of her vocal makeup, but jazz would have a more profound effect on her spirit. There was something about the lyrics and melodies that were so simple, yet complex. Sarah Vaughan was one of the first vocalists Comeaux bent her ear to, and then many greats followed.
Laurin Talese has been captivating audiences with her voice since the age of 10. A native of Cleveland, she earned a bachelor’s degree in jazz vocal performance at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She has worked with such recording artists as Bilal and Robert Glasper and has shared the stage with the Cleveland Orchestra, The Moses Hogan Chorale and the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg. A passionate songwriter, she released her debut album, Gorgeous Chaos, in partnership with producers Ulysses Owens Jr. and Adam Blackstone.
John Forster and Judy Kass To Perform In Morristown (MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- John Forster will headline at the Minstrel Acoustic Concert Series on Friday, January 18, at 7:30pm at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, 21 Normandy Heights Rd, Morristown. Judy Kass will open. The event is part of the Minstrel Acoustic Concert Series, sponsored by The Folk Project each Friday evening at the Fellowship. Admission is $10.00 per adult at the door. Children 12 and under are free. For further information, call 973-335-9489, or visit www.folkproject.org. BergenPAC Presents 14th Annual Englewood Idol (ENGLEWOOD, NJ) -- Talented teen vocalists who either live or attend school in Englewood will once again grace the stage of bergenPAC on Friday, January 11, at 7:00pm for the 14th annual Englewood Idol competition, which features nine contestants from the city’s high school programs: Dwight Morrow High School, The Dwight-Englewood School and the AcademiesatEnglewood. This year’s contestants are Genesis Capellan, Maggie Colquitt, Donna Gad, Savannah George, Lena Graf, Angelica Munoz, Lamyra Newton, Patricia Parker and Auhjen Upshaw.Susan Werner To Perform At Minstrel Acoustic Concert Series (MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Susan Werner will headline at the Minstrel Acoustic Concert Series on Friday, January 4, 2019 at 7:30pm at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, 21 Normandy Heights Rd, Morristown. Zoe Mulford will open. The event is part of the Minstrel Acoustic Concert Series, sponsored by The Folk Project each Friday evening at the Fellowship. Admission is $10.00 per adult at the door. Children 12 and under are free. Experiment 34 To Hold CD Release At Asbury Lanes (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Experiment 34 will celebrate the release of their debut full-length album, "What Dying Feels Like," on Saturday, February 16 at Asbury Lanes. E34 are a hard, heavy, aggressive mix of punk, funk, rap, metal and psychedelic rock with an inventive chemistry and explosive bond to which audiences of all kinds react well. Tickets for the CD release show are $15 at the door and $12 in advanced. Admission will include a free copy of the CD. Daniil Trifonov performs Schumann's Piano Concerto in NJSO debut (NEWARK, NJ) -- Daniil Trifonov, Musical America’s 2019 Artist of the Year, performs Schumann’s Piano Concerto in his NJSO debut, January 25–27, in the final program of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s 2019 Winter Festival, “Music Speaks.” Music Director Xian Zhang conducts the program, which also features Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra and the NJSO premiere of Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy. Performances take place on January 25 at 8:00pm at NJPAC in Newark, January 26 at 8:00pm at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick and January 27 at 3:00pm at Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown.
Join The Greater South Jersey Chorus For "A Winter's Night" (Or Afternoon)
The holidays bring many special things and, for me, one of the best is the music. It sets a mood, invokes memories, soothes the soul and provides a seasonal soundtrack for my life.
An Interview with Chip Davis Of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
You can experience the magic of the holidays — Steamroller-style — when Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis makes a tour stop this Thursday, December 6, 2018, at New Brunswick, NJ’s historic State Theatre.
If It Ain't Baroque... Bach's Brandenburg Concertos With Symphony in C
You know the old joke: If it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it? Well, put away those tools, dear reader. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos ARE Baroque, so no fixing necessary.
This Saturday, December 1, Symphony in C is performing Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 2 through 6 at the Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts. Officially presented in 1721, these collective works are considered to be some of the finest orchestral compositions of the Baroque era (generally 1600 to 1750). These six concertos are among the most recorded, performed and beloved works by Bach. – And that’s J.S. Bach, for those of you keeping score at home. There are a LOT of Bachs.
Music At Bunker Hill Makes Acoustic Connections In South Jersey
In the baseball saga “Field of Dreams,” Kevin Costner’s character proclaims, “If you build it, they will come.”
And Carol Westfall, President of Music at Bunker Hill, believes this saying holds true as well for other things – such as a multi-concert-season chamber music series in Gloucester County.
Event calendar Tuesday, Dec 18, 2018
THE NEPTUNES @ Lobby Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 7:00pm