A new program led by New Music USA and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice aims to increase opportunities for women and non-binary musicians who remain underrepresented in the art form of jazz.

According to a study of the NPR Music Jazz Critics poll in 2019, women made up only 16 per cent of the core band personnel for the ranked albums — the majority of which included no women musicians at all. Out of the top 50 albums in the poll, only 21 per cent were led or co-led by women. These are the sorts of statistics that the newly launched Next Jazz Legacy program looks to address.

The program will support women and non-binary artists in the early stages of their careers by offering creative and professional experience through long-term apprenticeships, financial support and promotion. With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program represents a major investment in 20 musicians and bandleaders over the next three years.

“Over 50 per cent of New Music USA’s annual grant funds go to women and non-binary artists. However, we know that some of the inequities in our community can’t be resolved with grant funding alone,” said Vanessa Reed, president and CEO of New Music USA. “Next Jazz Legacy addresses this by providing experience on the road, promotion and opportunities for participants to learn and grow with other artists at similar stages in their career.”