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Meet Samara McLendon

I felt an overwhelming sense of community the moment I stepped in the doors.

Samara McLendon, Class of ’21 (BM)

A young singer hailing from the Bronx, Samara McLendon was raised in a musical family, providing an environment conducive to creative expression. While in high school, she performed regularly with the jazz band, eventually winning Best Vocalist at the Essentially Ellington competition hosted in Fordham University at Lincoln Center. She is now a sophomore in the prestigious Jazz Studies program at Purchase College. New to the scene, she has managed to perform in many great jazz rooms in New York City with seasoned professionals such as Pasquale Grasso, Jon Faddis, and Barry Harris. She has also held a position as a vocal teaching assistant for the Jazz House Kids summer program, run by Christian McBride. Still staying true to her roots, she serves regularly as a worship leader at her home church of World Changers Church New York, located on the Grand Concourse. Samara has a passionate love for music and hopes to use it as a catalyst for change in the years to come.

Samara describes her experience at Purchase as follows:

Applying for colleges was a very difficult process for me. I was so unsure of whether I wanted to pursue a career in music, although I had grown up listening to and singing with my family in church all the time. I almost considered pursuing a career in the STEM field but, after I auditioned for Purchase with Professor Pete Malinverni, I was hooked. I’ve experienced many firsts here at Purchase, including my first ever voice lesson with Professor Alexis Cole and seeing Branford Marsalis live at the Performing Arts Center. While I had no prior training professionally or a background in theory, I felt an overwhelming sense of community the moment I stepped in the doors. As a result of this amazing community, my freshman year was a period of growth in musicianship and professionalism. I have met and played with classmates that have become my closest friends and will eventually be my colleagues on the scene when we graduate. I have built relationships with wonderful professors who have played on the scene for years and continue to do so today. And now, as my sophomore year comes to a close, I realize that I never would have had as many opportunities to grow as a musician if I hadn’t taken the step and come to Purchase.