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Samara McLendon ’21 is a Finalist for the SASSY Award

She’s one of five finalists to compete for the top prize in The Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition.

On November 24, 2019, Samara McLendon ’21 (jazz studies) will perform with four singers to compete for the SASSY Award, a nickname of the award’s namesake, in the The Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition.

Presented at Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the contest is held on the last day of the Eighth Annual TD James Moody Jazz Festival.

A Q&A with McLendon

How does it feel to have made it to the finals?

When I received the news that I was chosen, I couldn’t believe it for a couple of days. This is the second and biggest competition I have ever applied for and listening to other submissions made me feel as though I probably didn’t stand a chance.

But I decided to take a leap of faith anyway and it worked out. Sarah Vaughan, a monumental storyteller, was one of the first people I discovered a love for while being here so even being a finalist in this competition is mind blowing.

I love singing this music so hopefully this opportunity will give me a chance to, not only connect with veterans of the music, but to show just how much of an impact jazz music has had on younger generations such as myself.

How has your experience at Purchase prepared you for this competition?

I knew nothing about jazz music and its intricacies when I first arrived as a freshman in the Conservatory. Now a junior, I’ve had the opportunity to study with dedicated peers and faculty who have shown me so much more about jazz than I could’ve ever learned on my own.

Going to jam sessions in the city with friends and learning from professors who have played for years with legends, I’ve been provided all that I need to succeed from being in the Jazz Studies program.

In order for anything to grow, it needs to first be in the right environment. I have grown as a person and a musician, which is exactly why Purchase is the right environment for me. 

Read more about Samara McLendon here.