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Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition open for entries

Finalists of 2022 SASSY awards
Steven Sussman
Finalists of 2022 SASSY awards: (l to r) Kristin Lash, Lucy Yeghiazaryan, Allan Harris, Ekep Nkwelle and Lucia Gutiérrez Rebolloso

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), now in its 12th year, has announced that the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, also known as the SASSY Awards, is open for entries. A truly international event, the competition encourages vocalists from all over the world to submit entries before September 5, 2023. According to the guidelines, the competition is open to “singers over the age of 18, of all genders and nationalities, from anywhere in the world, and not signed by a major label.” In addition, the organizers state that “Entrants are judged on vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation, and ability to swing.” Entrants can submit by visiting sarahvaughancompetition.com.

The finalists will compete in front of a live audience on November 19, 2023 at NJPAC before a panel of judges that includes Dee Dee Bridgewater, Christian McBride, Madeleine Peyroux, Al Pryor and Lizz Wright. WBGO’s Pat Prescott will host the event, which will also include a performance by the 2021 winner G. Thomas Allen. The first prize winner receives a cash award of $5,000, while second place receives $1,500 and third-place $500.

Past winners of the competition include Cyrille AiméeJazzmeia Horn, Ashleigh SmithArianna Neikrug, Deelee Dubé, Quiana Lynell, Laurin TaleseSamara Joy, Gabrielle Cavassa and Tawanda Suessbrich-Joaquim, G. Thomas Allen, and, most recently, Lucía Gutiérrez Rebolloso.

Read about last year’s competition here.

For over 27 years, Lee Mergner served as an editor and publisher of JazzTimes until his resignation in January 2018. Thereafter, Mergner continued to regularly contribute features, profiles and interviews to the publication as a contributing editor for the next 4+ years. JazzTimes, which has won numerous ASCAP-Deems Taylor awards for music journalism, was founded in 1970 and was described by the All Music Guide, as “arguably the finest jazz magazine in the world.”