The sixth annual Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Vocal Competition has been announced by the Blues Alley Jazz Society. The theme of this year’s contest is “Ella Sings Ellington,” with participants invited to select three songs from the 1957 studio album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book.
The celebrity judge for the 2023 event is the award-winning jazz vocalist Jane Monheit. She will be both adjudicator and a performer throughout the Ella Fitzgerald Week, to take place between April 17-23 next year. Entrants pay a one-off fee of $50 to take part, and the deadline for registration and audio submissions is January 31, 2023.
Once all submissions have been collated, they will be narrowed down to five finalists, with three song selections from each contestant. Those finalists are then asked to submit both an audio and a video audition, from which a winner, a runner-up, and three third-place winners are chosen. The winners will be announced on Saturday, April 22, with the winner to perform at Blues Alley in Washington, with Monheit.
The vocal competition was conceived and launched, in partnership with the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, to mark 2017’s centennial of the birth of the peerless vocalist. The contest revolves around the American Songbook and in particular the Verve Records catalo of composers. The winner of the 2022 event was Chicago-based Julia Danielle, with Londoner Becky Alice in second place.
Organizers noted of this year's competition that it “included some of the most musically versatile student vocalists from around the globe and attracted submissions from continents and countries as expansive as the ‘First Lady of Song’s’ enormous repertoire from her past century of music.”
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book marked the first time the two American greats had worked together, and was the only LP in her famous series that also featured the composer as a performer. It included classic versions of such immortal songs as “Take The 'A' Train,” “Caravan,” and “I’m Beginning To See The Light.” More information on the competition, and registration forms, are here.
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