(NEWARK, NJ) -- A distinguished panel of judges and pillars of the jazz community awarded Quiana Lynell first place in the 6th Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. The competition to find the next great jazz vocalist was held on Sunday, November 12 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), as part of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival.
As the first-prize winner of the SASSY Award, Lynell receives an exclusive recording contract offer through Concord Records and a $5,000 cash award. The second-place winner of the competition was Tatiana "LadyMay" Mayfield, who was awarded a $1,500 cash prize, and the third-place winner was Christine Fawson who received $500.
Lynell was among five finalists who performed before a live audience at NJPAC's Victoria Theater and a judging panel consisting of award-winning vocalists Vanessa Rubin, Ann Hampton Callaway, and Will Downing; WBGO radio personality Gary Walker; and, bandleader and composer TS Monk.
The competition recalls the humble beginnings of legendary jazz singer Sarah Vaughan who, back in 1942, was a Newark teenager and winner of an amateur singing contest at the Apollo Theater. That memorable night help launch the lifework of one of the most successful, influential jazz vocalists in the history of American music.
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.
The TD James Moody Jazz Festival is sponsored by TD Bank. The Festival also is generously supported by WBGO-Jazz 88.3FM, the Institute of Jazz Studies - Rutgers University Newark, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Concord Music Group, Indaba Music and Jazz Roots.
Singer and songwriter Quiana Lynell has performed as a soloist with jazz and symphony orchestras alike. Whether performing for a few or many, Lynell "takes the listener on a journey with the emotion of the blues, accompanied by the discipline of classical, topped off with the elegance of jazz," noted a journalist in Europe. Studying vocal performance at Louisiana State University outfitted Lynell with the skills to store an impressive repertoire and to showcase her multi-octave instrument. She's worked alongside masters of jazz and the American Songbook, such as Terence Blanchard, the Preservation Hall Band and Aaron Neville. "I see music as the soundtrack of life and I enjoy each opportunity to share memories and moments in the lives of those around me," she says.
A jazz vocalist, musician and educator from Fort Worth, Texas, Tatiana "LadyMay" Mayfield has been singing and playing jazz music since the age of 13. In 2010, she was one of 12 semi-finalists to compete in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition, and has opened for well-known artists such as Randy Brecker, Dave Valentin, Will Downing, and The Main Ingredient. LadyMay has performed with the legendary Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and upcoming is an appearance with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra.
She has recorded two albums -- From All Directions and A Portrait of LadyMay -- and is at work on a third. In addition to her vocal skills, she plays piano and trombone, composes, and teaches voice and music theory.
Both a vocalist and trumpet player, Christine Fawson has performed all over the world - at festivals, on educational recordings, and as a sideman on several artists' recordings. From 2002-2012, she was a member of the vocal jazz group Syncopation, which released three CDs and appeared regularly in the Boston area with Phil Wilson's Berklee Rainbow Band, the Capitol Center Jazz Orchestra and the Boston Pops. Fawson played trumpet with the DIVA Jazz Orchestra at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theater and Lincoln Center, and with artists John Pizzarelli, Maurice Hines and many others. A faculty member at Berklee College of Music for 14 years, she has three albums: Happy Talk (2003), My Side (2013) and Here Now (2016).
Vocalist Tiffany Austin's tradition-rooted yet modern style has established her as one of the fastest rising jazz stars in Northern California. Before earning a law degree at U.C. Berkeley, she performed on three continents; instead of taking the bar exam, she decided to devote her life to music. Austin's artistry draws on such influences as Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin; her nuanced delivery and fearless improvisation have caught the attention of eminent musicians she has joined onstage, like Roy Ayers and John Handy. Her debut recording, Nothing But Soul, received a four-star review from DownBeat magazine and a feature on NPR's Fresh Air. Austin's upcoming sophomore album was recorded with Cyrus Chestnut, Rodney Whitaker and Carl Allen.
Captivated by music since childhood, Fabio Giacalone studied violin, piano technique and music theory at an early age. After participating in the Berklee College of Music Clinics at the Umbria Jazz Festival, he won a full scholarship to Berklee and graduated with a degree in vocal jazz performance. Last year, Giacalone took third prize in the world-renowned Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competitionin Montreux, Switzerland. He recently participated in the Montreux Jazz Academy 2017, where he worked side-by-side with outstanding musicians like Marcus Miller, Yaron Herman, Ziv Ravitz, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Elina Duni. Giacalone lives in New York City, where he continues to gig, explore jazz, and collaborate on many projects as a vocal producer and background vocalist.
About TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Co-produced by NJPAC and WBGO Jazz 88.3FM, the TD James Moody Jazz Festival was inaugurated in 2012 and named in recognition of the jazz saxophone virtuoso from Newark. NJPAC's annual celebration of "America's classical music" is a spree of more than two dozen concerts and related activities - over half of which are free to the community. Guided by Christian McBride, NJPAC's Jazz Advisor, the festival has presented artists such as The Manhattan Transfer, David Sanborn, Tony Bennett, Wynton Marsalis, Al Jarreau, Dianne Reeves, Sérgio Mendes, Bill Charlap, Esperanza Spalding, Fantasia, Chris Botti, Pat Metheny, and the Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette trio, among many others.
TD James Moody Jazz Festival is intrinsic to Newark, a city renowned as the home and creative inspiration for jazz geniuses including Sarah Vaughan and pianist Willie "The Lion" Smith, and institutions such as Savoy Records, the Rutgers-Newark Institute of Jazz Studies and WBGO Jazz 88.3FM. Among the festival's unique events are One on One with Christian McBride, a concert-and-conversation series featuring jazz's top talents; Dorthaan's Place Sunday jazz brunches at the Arts Center's NICO Kitchen + Bar; and a schedule of concerts and special attractions held off-campus throughout Newark.