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Applications Open for Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition

Deadline for entries is Sept. 5; contest will be hosted by the NJPAC in Newark on Nov. 22

Samara McLendon, winner of the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition
Samara Joy McLendon, winner of the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition (photo courtesy of NJPAC)

Applications are now open for the 2020 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, which will be hosted by Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center on November 22. Entries are due September 8 at 5 p.m. ET.

Also known as the SASSY Awards, the Sarah Vaughan Competition is a talent contest that pays tribute to the titular singer (whose career began when she herself won a 1942 talent contest at New York’s Apollo Theater). It is open to solo jazz vocalists of all nationalities who are 18 years or older and not currently signed to a major record label.

A panel of judges—including vocalists Carmen Lundy and Vanessa Rubin, bassist Christian McBride, and WBGO radio personality Gary Walker—evaluates the contestants based on vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation, and ability to swing. The prize for the winner is $5,000 and exposure to the wider jazz world, which highly anticipates and scrutinizes each year’s competition.

Singers can apply through the Competition’s website. Announcements about the plans for holding the competition are forthcoming.

Past winners of the SASSY Awards include Cyrille AiméeJazzmeia Horn, Ashleigh SmithArianna Neikrug, Deelee Dubé, Quiana Lynell, Laurin Talese, and last year’s winner, Samara McLendon.