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We’ve expanded our Discovery Series to showcase the rising stars from the next generation of jazz! Our first ever Discovery Series jazz artist, Samara Joy, won the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. With a voice as smooth as velvet, Samara has already performed in many of the great jazz venues including Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, The Blue Note, and Mezzrow, in addition to working with jazz greats such as Christian McBride, Pasquale Grasso, Kirk Lightsey, Cyrus Chestnut, and NEA Jazz Master Dr. Barry Harris.
2023 GRAMMY Winner: Best New Artist, Best Jazz Vocal Album
With her Verve Records debut, Linger Awhile, 22-year-old Samara Joy makes her case to join the likes of Sarah, Ella, and Billie as the next mononymous jazz singing sensation recorded by the venerable label. Her voice, rich and velvety yet precociously refined, has already earned her fans like Anita Baker and Regina King, appearances on the TODAY Show and millions of likes on TikTok, cementing her status as perhaps the first Gen Z jazz singing star. On Linger Awhile, Samara introduces that massive audience to a slew of classic standards several times older than she is through her timeless, irresistible sound.
Samara is still relatively new to jazz. Growing up in the Bronx, it was music of the past—the music of her parent’s childhoods, as she put it—that she listened to most. She treasures her musical lineage, which stretches back to her grandparents Elder Goldwire and Ruth McLendon, both of whom performed with Philadelphia gospel group the Savettes, and runs through her father, who is a singer, songwriter and producer who toured with gospel artist Andraé Crouch. Eventually, she did follow in the family tradition, singing in church and then with the jazz band at Fordham High School for the Arts, with whom she won Best Vocalist at JALC’s Essentially Ellington competition. That led to her enrolling in SUNY Purchase’s jazz studies program, where she fell deeply in love with the music.
Though she’s young, she relishes the process of digging through the music’s history and learning new standards. The gatekeepers of the jazz world tend to agree: in 2019, she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, and she’s since performed with legends like Christian McBride and Bill Charlap. Legendary late pianist Barry Harris was a particularly important influence and mentor.
Samara is accompanied by esteemed veterans on Linger Awhile as well: her former professors, guitarist Pasquale Grasso and drummer Kenny Washington, form the core of the band, which also includes bassist David Wong and pianist Ben Paterson. With ease and a preternatural assurance, Samara swings right alongside them through understated yet powerful renditions of this creative collection of standards.
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