G. Thomas Allen from Chicago was announced as the winner of the 10th Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition on Sunday, Nov. 14 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, N.J. Allen was one of five finalists who performed with a trio led by pianist Sergio Salvatore and featuring Gregory M. Jones on bass and Buddy Williams on drums. Dianne Reeves also made a special appearance during the event. A judging panel of Jazzmeia Horn (a past winner of the competition), Sheila Jordan, John Pizzarelli, Renee Rosnes, and Steve Williams (president of Newark jazz radio station WBGO) evaluated the five finalists who each sang one song. Allen sang “Misty,” while Andrea Miller (Costa Mesa, Calif.) performed “Bye Bye Blackbird,” April May Webb (Edison, N.J.) did “Social Call,” Latvian-born Arta Jēkabsone (Jersey City, N.J.) sang “Gone with the Wind,” and Vik Gečytė (Paris, France) performed “Lover Come Back to Me.”
Allen, who released his self-titled debut album last year, will receive a $5,000 cash prize. Webb, who was chosen as the first runner-up or second-place recipient, received $1,500 and Jēkabsone, as the third-place recipient, received $500.
Past winners of the competition include Horn, Cyrille Aimée, Ashleigh Smith, Arianna Neikrug, Deelee Dubé, Quiana Lynell, Laurin Talese, Samara Joy, Gabrielle Cavassa and Tawanda Suessbrich-Joaquim.