Acclaimed Vocalist Vivian Sessoms Named a Finalist in the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition

Internationally lauded vocal artist Vivian Sessoms is proud to announce her status as a finalist in the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. The Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, also known as the SASSY Awards in a nod to Vaughan’s nickname, will host a performance of Vivian and the four other finalists on Sunday, November 24 at 3pm in NJPAC‘s Victoria Theater. “I was thrilled to find out I had been chosen as one of the finalists in this prestigious competition. I am honored to be in the company of these incredibly talented performers and look forward to the new chapter this opportunity will bring,” said Sessoms. 

The 2019 finalists of this international competition are Vivian Sessoms (Jersey City, New Jersey), Viktorija Gečytė (Paris, France), Samara McLendon (Bronx, New York), Daniela Spalletta (Mazzarino, Italy), and Christine Fawson (New Mexico). The five finalists will perform before a panel of judges on the final day of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival (November 9-24) at NJPAC. The grand prize winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize plus a performance slot at the 2020 Newport Jazz Festival.

Born and raised in Harlem, Vivian Sessoms is now a resident of Sarah Vaughan’s birthplace: New Jersey.  This exciting announcement comes during a banner year for the acclaimed vocalist. In the past twelve months, Vivian has released two critically acclaimed releases on Ropeadope records: Life (November 2018) and its companion Life II (May 2019). The pair of albums has received praise from Downbeat Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, Echoes Magazine, All About Jazz, Jazziz and Glide Magazine, among others. Her outstanding video for single “I Can’t Breathe” debuted in February on Billboard.com and her music has been featured by Soulbounce, SoulTracks, and Nextbop. Her placement thus far in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition is a welcome addition to the singer’s upward trajectory. 

The competition has become a platform for a single outstanding jazz singer to gain widespread recognition in the music industry. Past winners include Cyrille Aimée, Jazzmeia Horn (winner of the 2015 Thelonious Monk Competition), Ashleigh Smith, Arianna Neikrug, Deelee Dubé, Quiana Lynell, and last year’s winner, Laurin Talese, who performed at the 2019 Newport Jazz Festival as part of her triumphant win in last year’s competition.

The panel of judges include multi-Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride, Grammy- and Tony Award-winning jazz giant Dee Dee Bridgewater, vocalist Jane Monheit, WBGO weekend host Monifa Brown, and award-winning producer Matt Pierson. The competition is hosted by WBGO’s morning show host, Gary Walker.

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