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Jazz Vocalists Organize

Ellen Johnson, Cathy Segal Garcia and April Lang, a trio of jazz vocalist-educators, felt jazz singers don’t get the respect or enjoy the success that jazz instrumentalists do, and thus founded the Jazz Vocal Coalition (JZVOC), an organization dedicated to the advancement of jazz singers just like them.

Johnson, who serves as the JZVOC’s president explains her peoples’ situation as such: “We all felt that we needed to be represented more in the music industry. The problem is that we are not taken very seriously in many areas and the solution was to create our own voice to generate a demand for jazz singing in education, performance, and recording.”

As stated in a recent JZVOC-issued press release, the group “seeks to create a worldwide community of jazz singers in order to share knowledge and experience, recognize outstanding achievements, and to encourage the highest standards of professionalism, musicianship and artistry.” They’ve started in the right locations, opening Coalition chapters in New York City and Los Angeles, cities where jazz singers are as abundant as litter on the sidewalks. Additional chapters in other cities are in development. The JZVOC hopes to soon have chapters all over the globe, uniting the jazz singers and upping the amount of props they receive in the industry.

Membership in the JZVOC is open to professional jazz singers, clinicians, students, amateurs, and associations—membership criteria and other details are available at the JZVOC’s Web site: www.jzvoc.org. In addition to the networking system this kind of organization creates, new members receive a Singers Survival Book, which includes musician contact information, and a book of published original songs by JZVOC members.

The JZVOC will also be present at January 2004’s IAJE Conference in New York City, where it will sponsor a panel discussion on the future of solo vocal jazz, moderated by Johnson. Panelists will include Jay Clayton, Andy Bey, Kurt Elling, Jon Hendricks, Sheila Jordan, Kitty Margolis and Mark Murphy. And some Coalition members will be showcased during IAJE time at clubs like Birdland and Chez Suzette.

The JZVOC’s future plans include the creation of student scholarships, mentorship programs, festival performance and artist-in-residence opportunities, partnerships with other organizations and grants.

There’s a wealth of information at the Coalition’s Web site (once again: www.jzvoc.org), but if you know an Internet-challenged jazz singer who might be interested in what the JZVOC has to offer, that singer can call (562) 377-0971 for more information.

Originally Published