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Jazz Appreciation Month continues with The NYU Village Voices led by Janis Siegel and Lauren Kinhan

NYU Village Voices
Mark Farrell
NYU Village Voices

The NYU Village Voices, a contemporary and jazz vocal ensemble under the auspices of the NYU Steinhardt School of Education, performed at WBGO Studios. The group is directed by two major figures in the vocal group world, adjunct professors Janis Siegel from The Manhattan Transfer and Lauren Kinhan from New York Voices.  The group formed at NYU in 2018 with only three singers, Lauren and Janis swapped in for being the fourth, and the ensemble gradually grew by audition membership in to the larger collective that it is today. The artistic premise is to develop the skills necessary for singing close harmony while embracing the diaspora of jazz, world, pop and contemporary music, valuing group interaction, active listening and finessing concepts like vowel placement, enunciation, blending with another voice, body awareness and an understanding of the history of vocal jazz. They throw this all in a blender together with a healthy dollop of swing, beatboxing and body percussion, and of course…fun, to create a vibrant community of singing musicians.

The ensemble sound is informed by the experiences Janis and Lauren have had with their own group’s diverse musical explorations, and the Village Voices’ contemporary aspirations, interests and influences. Original music has also played a pivotal role in welcoming new songs to the party.

The 2023 group consists of Chelsea Kane Melnick, Connor Burns, Jahnvi Seshadri, Joe Smith, Maggie Greene, Maya Muthuramalingam, Sakshat Katyarmal, Sam Joseph, Shailen Braun, Sydney Hoel, Winston Yang, Yumeko Stern, backed by a trio consisting of Yuma Sung (piano), Ryoma Takenaga (bass), and Anton Kot (drums).

The ensemble performed four songs at WBGO: “Oh, Lady Be Good” (George & Ira Gershwin) with additional lyrics by New York Voices and an improv solo by student Sam Joseph, “Forever Blue” (music by Peter Eldridge/Marco Prito & lyrics by Peter Eldridge), “I’ll Be Seeing You” (Sammy Fain/Irving Kahal), and “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” (Joan Whitney/Alex Kramer). Ensemble soloists included Maggie Greene, Sydney Hoel, Jahnvi Seshadri, Maya Muthuramalingam, Chelsea Melnick, Yumeko Stern, Sam Joseph, and Winston Yang.

Listen to the fun performances on WBGO three times daily today through Wednesday this week (11:55am, 6:55pm and 10:55pm), as we wind down our celebration of music education for Jazz Appreciation Month.

The NYU Village Voices final concert for the semester, which is free and open to the public will be MAY 8th at the Loewe Theatre
35 W. 4th St in Greenwich Village at 8PM.

Listen to "Oh, Lady Be Good" from the session at WBGO Studios, above.

Funding for this series was made possible by a generous grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.