On a Wednesday night in 1942, a teenager from Newark traveled to Harlem’s Apollo Theater to compete in an amateur singing contest. She won $10 and a weeklong engagement performing on the Apollo stage. That engagement launched the career of the great jazz vocalist, Sarah Vaughan.
The ninth annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, aka the ‘SASSY Awards’, provides jazz vocalists an opportunity to perform in front of celebrity judges to win cash prizes and generate greater awareness. The deadline for this year’s competition is September 8 at 5 p.m., and applicants may apply by logging onto www.njpac.org. The finals will be held on November 22.
Singers are evaluated by a panel of special guest judges and rated for vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation, and ability to swing. Last year’s winner was Samara McLendon. Among other past winners: Laurin Talese, Jazzmeia Horn, and Cyrille Aimee. WBGO personality Gary Walker will host this year’s competition. Judges are: bassist Christian McBride, vocalists Carmen Lundy and Vanessa Rubin, WBGO president and CEO Robert G. Ottenhoff; and jazz producer Chuck Mitchell.