A Legacy of Voices: Past, Present and Future

Tribute to Sheila Jordon and Jay Clayton

Sheila Jordon and Jay Clayton

Support our scholarship program for future vocalists!

On Saturday, April 2nd at 8:00 PM, the Vermont Jazz Center will present a very special fundraising concert marking the 15th anniversary of its jazz vocal program. The event will celebrate those who have come through the summer workshop and moved on to become professional singers. It will shine a light on a generous handful of younger, talented singers who have chosen to make music a significant focus in their lives. The event is about the past, the present and the future of jazz vocals at the VJC and will introduce a few local high school students pursuing their love of jazz singing. The vocalists will be performing primarily compositions from the Great American Songbook, such as Fly Me to the Moon, The Nearness of You, and Dedicated to You as well as some classic Bossa Novas (Chega de Saudade) and a few bebop tunes (such as Miles Davis' Little Willie Leaps).

The Vermont Jazz Center's vocal program would be non-existent if it were not for the teaching skills, the wisdom, grace and tremendous spirit of its founder, one of the most important jazz vocalists alive today: Sheila Jordan. During the course of the program's tenure, Sheila and her soul sister, Jay Clayton, have attracted over 200 vocalists from around the world to the Summer Workshop's campus at the Putney School. According to Integriti Reeves, a young performer from D.C., "Jay and Sheila are masters of the art. Watching them perform and listening to them talk about Jazz and music in general has been so inspiring and instrumental in my growth. I can only dream to be as fluent in the Jazz language as they are." Another young singer, Kavita Shah, says, "Through working with them I was able to gain the confidence I needed to pursue a career in music."

The Master of Ceremonies for this concert is Jill Connolly, a voice-over artist and vocalist who considers Sheila her mentor. The singers will be accompanied by pianist and VJC director Eugene Uman, drummer and long time VJC faculty member Claire Arenius and bassist James Robbins, a senior a the Berklee College of Music and a junior faculty at the VJC summer workshop.

To honor the future, VJC welcomes to the stage three Brattleboro Union High School students, Maya Struthers, Julia Foster and Arthur Davis, who will appear for the first, but hopefully not the last time at the VJC. These young singers have proven themselves in the BUHS vocal program under the meticulous and caring guidance of Patty Meyer. For this performance, they will get the opportunity to sing a jazz standard of their choosing accompanied by a professional rhythm section. They will work directly with Eugene Uman, choosing the right tune, right key and appropriate jazz feel for the song they have chosen.

To honor the present, the VJC welcomes numerous vocalists who have, over the years, trained with Sheila and Jay at the summer jazz workshop.

Hannah Rose Diamond has grown up immersed in an environment imbued with the brilliant piano playing and Zen-like ambiance projected by her father, Harvey Diamond. She transcends her youth and projects a sense of confidence and knowledge of music that staggers the listener. She is currently working on releasing her first album and performs in the Boston area.

Integriti Reeves' sound and style resonate the era of jazz greats such as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. A high school graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts and a 2010 graduate with a BA in Jazz Studies from John Hopkins Peabody Conservatory, she placed 3rd in the Billie Holliday Competition sponsored by the Artscape Arts Festival in Baltimore. She is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in Jazz Studies from Howard University.

Rebecca Holtz, sang before she spoke and has loved jazz music for many years. The preternaturally talented Walpolean has trod the boards in many a local theatrical production and also co-hosted a show on WOOL with her father Bill. Her dynamic voice and exuberance fill the room with joy and her energy is contagious. She is presently a student at Smith College.

Miriam Raffeld is an accomplished violinist and vocalist with a clear, sweet sound. She serves as concertmaster for the Mt. Holyoke Orchestra and performs regularly as a vocal soloist with the Mt. Holyoke's V8's a cappella group. She has appeared in the Vermont Jazz Center summer workshop concerts for the past two years arriving with extensive experience in high school musicals and performance ensembles.

Devin Beck, a CT high school senior, attended the VJC summer workshop for the first time last summer but has been interested in music since he was 3 and always knew he wanted to be a musician. He is working privately on voice with Jay and Sheila Jordan has ear marked him as someone to watch out for!

Kavita Shah is a leading young vocalist based in New York. Her repertoire and original compositions reflect her cosmopolitan background, incorporating elements of world music, classic R&B, and jazz. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and leading jazz clubs like Lenox Lounge, Smoke, and Minton's Playhouse. Ms. Shah holds a B.A. from Harvard in Latin American Studies and she is currently pursuing a Master's in jazz voice at Manhattan School of Music

We are also pleased to be presenting established professional performers with strong ties to the VJC summer workshop and to our honorees, Sheila and Jay.

This includes our MC for the evening, Jill Connolly, a signature voice for the PBS flagship station in Boston, WGBH. She is a magnificent singer who is also recognized for her voiceover work. She can be heard on her CD of jazz standards called "Venus in Transit." Sheila Jordan after hearing Jill's recording greeted her with this praise, "I hear your heart and soul in this recording, Jill. It's wonderful. And I love your spirit! You all sound as if you're breathing together, everyone on the same beautiful, musical wavelength!"

Sarah Elizabeth Charles, a vocalist and composer currently living and performing in New York City, has acquired a respected following in both the New England and New York City areas. Under the influences of teachers such as Sheila and Jay, she has been able to modernize classic standards and compose distinctive originals. She has performed at the Waldorf Astoria, the Blue Note NYC, Fat Cat NYC, Zinc Bar NYC and the Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland playing opposite the Jack DeJohnette Group. Sarah has earned many honors including an Outstanding Musicianship Award from the International Association of Jazz Educators and a Judges Choice Award at the Berklee Jazz Festival.

Beth Logan, performs in the Boston area with jazz pianist Harvey Diamond. In 2007 they released their first CD, "Time After Time" - a collection of jazz standards. Having enjoyed a successful early vocal career in classical music in Chicago and New England, Beth is devoted to the Vermont Jazz Center, and her teachers Sheila and Jay for opening her heart and soul to Jazz. Additionally Beth has been a long time supporter of the Jazz Center and serves as a most valued advisor.

Funds raised from this event will be used to support the Jazz Center's scholarship program. Over the years, dozens of students have had the opportunity to attend classes at the Vermont Jazz Center and participate in the weeklong summer workshop through scholarship support. The present economic situation has significantly increased the number of musicians seeking financial assistance and we therefore hope to increase our scholarship capacity to continue to make jazz programs accessible to all.

Saturday, April 2nd
8:00 PM
Vermont Jazz Center
$15 general admission
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