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Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition: The Sassy Awards
Part of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival Jazz

Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition: The Sassy Awards

Following an intensive search, NJPAC and WBGO will host performances by the five finalists in the sixth annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, founded in 2012 in honor of Newark’s “divine” jazz icon.

Rising vocalists from around the globe compete for the chance to perform in the finals for the competition, also known as “The SASSY Awards.” The only event of its kind, this competition is now open to both male and female jazz singers and gives the winner a platform for embarking on a career in the music business.

Singers will be evaluated by a panel of special guest judges, and rated for vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation, and ability to swing. The grand prize winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize, an offer for a record deal with Concord Music Group, and a platform to embark on a career in the music business.

This year's competition features a special appearance by Jazzmeia Horn, winner of the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Jazz Competition.

Click here to purchase advance parking for the performance.

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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.

 

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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).

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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 Competition in 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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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