Lucy Wijnands wins Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Vocal Competition

Lucy Wijnands is this year’s winner of the Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Vocal Competition, the Blues Alley Jazz Society announced on Friday.

The singer from Kansas City, Mo., was one of five finalists who competed virtually in the fourth annual event on April 24 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Wijnands recently graduated from SUNY Purchase’s Conservatory of Music, where she was named the college’s Ella Fitzgerald Scholar and received both a President’s Award for Achievement and a Downbeat Student Music Award for outstanding jazz vocal soloist.

She has completed a five-month residency with the Birdland Big Band and has performed with acclaimed musicians such as Joe Lovano and Kenny Washington.

Wijnands’s final song selections were Dearly Beloved, Laura and Too Marvelous for Words by lyricist Johnny Mercer, previously sung by America’s “First Lady of Song.”

Wijnands was awarded $1,500 for her victory. The runner-up was Taisha Estrada of Washington, D.C., who won $500. The other finalists — Atrin Madani of Berlin, Germany; Naledi Masilo of Cape Town, South Africa; and Ariana Stefanidis of New York — each received $250.

This year’s contestants were originally chosen for the 2020 competition, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The competition’s panel of judges comprised vocalists and educators Alison Crockett, Darden Purcell and Jessica Boykin Settles.

Wijnands is now working on her debut album, You’ll Never Walk Alone.


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