The Search for the World’s Next Great Jazz Singer

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 that would transform America’s original art form and an icon who elevated the craft of jazz vocal music and garnered the respect and adoration of millions. Now, it’s time for history to repeat itself.

The Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition is open to solo vocalists of all nationalities who are not signed to a major record label. Singers are judged on vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation and ability to swing.

2021 Winner just announced!

Vik Gečytė

Paris, France
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Recap of the November 14th event:

November 14th Host & Guest Performers

Christian McBride

Host & Guest Performer
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Dianne Reeves

Guest Performer
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The Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition is rightfully one of the most anticipated events in jazz

Christian McBride
Multi-GRAMMY™ winning bassist

The Application

To prepare for future competitions, be sure you have:

  • At least 1 headshot
  • A short biography, approximately 200 to 300 words
  • At least 3 audio or video samples of your work (YouTube and Vimeo are perfect!)
  • A portfolio or any social media you’d like us to review

The deadline to apply has passed. Submissions are currently being reviewed and the top five contestants will be announced on October 13, 2020.

Past Winners

Gabrielle Cavassa

June 2021 Winner - 1st place tie
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Tawanda Suessbrich-Joaquim

June 2021 Winner - 1st place tie
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Samara Joy

2019 Winner
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Congratulations Samara McLendon!

On Sunday, November 24, 2019 a distinguished panel of judges and pillars of the jazz community awarded Samara McLendon first place in the 8th Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. Pulled from over 600 submissions, McLendon was among five finalists who performed before a live audience at NJPAC’s Victoria Theater and a judging panel consisting of multi-Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride, Grammy- and Tony Award-winning jazz giant Dee Dee Bridgewater, vocalist Jane Monheit, WBGO weekend host Monifa Brown, and award-winning producer Matt Pierson.

Past Winners

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