Join us for a series of conversations with the incredibly talented young singers who’ve performed — and triumphed! — at NJPAC’s Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition, and the judges who spotted their amazing gifts. This annual contest, now in its ninth year, has propelled a whole cohort of rising jazz singers into exceptional careers.

At this NJPAC Backstage interview, meet the 2019 winner of the Sassy Awards: Samara Joy McLendon.

This young singer from the Bronx was born into a musical family (her grandparents were leaders of the gospel group, the Savettes of Philadelphia) and has been performing since she was in high school. After winning the Best Vocalist title at the Essentially Ellington competition hosted by Fordham University at Lincoln Center, Samara went on to study at the prestigious Jazz Studies program at Purchase College. Already a veteran of performances at many of New York’s most renowned jazz clubs, including Smalls Jazz Club, the Blue Note, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, and 55 Bar, Samara now also teaches at Christian McBride’s Jazz House Kids summer program — when she’s not on stage, that is!

Tune in for a lively conversation about jazz music, arts education, and seeing the world from the stage with Samara Joy McLendon at 6PM on July 14, on NJPAC’s Instagram page!

Aspiring artists can sign up to be part of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition today to compete in front of celebrity judges and a chance to win cash prizes! Register here.

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