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Lucy Wijnands Wins Ella Fitzgerald Vocal Competition

The recent SUNY Purchase graduate takes home a $1,500 first prize

Lucy Wijnands
Lucy Wijnands

Lucy Wijnands is the winner of the 2021 Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Vocal Competition, the Blues Alley Jazz Society (BAJS) has announced. The competition, sponsored by BAJS, was held April 24 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Wijnands, a native of Kansas City, Mo., and daughter of stride pianist Bram Wijnands, was one of five finalists to compete in the April 24 event. She was awarded $1,500 as the prize for her victory.

This is not the first time that Wijnands’ name has been connected with that of the great jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald. A recent graduate of SUNY Purchase’s Conservatory of Music, she was previously named that college’s Ella Fitzgerald Scholar, as well as the recipient of its 2020 President’s Award for Achievement. She has performed with Joe Lovano, Kenny Washington, and the Birdland Big Band (in a five-month residency), among others, and is currently working on her debut album.

In second place was Washington, D.C.’s Taisha Estrada, who won $500. The other finalists—Atrin Madani of Berlin, Germany; Naledi Masilo of Cape Town, South Africa; and Ariana Stefanidis of New York, New York—received $250 each.

Vocalists and educators Alison Crockett, Darden Purcell, and Jessica Boykin Settles acted as judges for the competition.

Although the Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Vocal Competition was founded in 2017, its 2021 edition was the fourth overall. This year’s contestants were originally selected to participate in the 2020 competition, which was canceled due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.