ELLA FITZGERALD COMPETITION

The 4th annual Ella Fitzgerald Competition will return on Saturday, April 24th between 5-9:30 pm with virtual performances broadcast live from the National Press Club. Our five finalists are Naledi Masilo (South Africa), Ariana Stefanidis (New York), Atrin Madani (Germany), Lucy Wijnands (Kansas City) and Taisha Estrada (Washington, DC). They have chosen selections from the Great American Songbook that feature Ella Fitzgerald and the renowned lyricist Johnny Mercer. The event will take place at the world-famous National Press Club in downtown Washington, DC and feature our iconic judges:

• Alison Crockett (George Washington University)
• Darden Purcell (George Mason University)
• Jessica Boykin-Settles (Howard University)

The competition will commence promptly at 5:00 pm with introductions and pre-recorded video performances of our five finalists, judges and a special appearance by members of the Blues Alley Youth Orchestra. Admission will remain free however donations are strongly encouraged.

  • Sponsors

    • The Speyer Foundation
    • Marinus and Minnie B. Koster Foundation
    • The Wagner Family Charitable Foundation
    • National Park Service
    • George Washington University
    • Music Performance Trust Funds
    • DC Federation of Musicians
    • Blues Alley Jazz
  • Partners

    • Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation
    • National Press Club
    • Events DC
    • Jazz Education Network
    • US Army
  • Academic Alliances

    • Peabody Institute
    • George Mason University
    • Howard University
  • Media Partner

    • JazzEd Magazine
    • WERA-FM Radio

About Us



The Ella Fitzgerald jazz vocal competition is the culmination of our non-profit Blues Alley Jazz Society youth and education programming. Our event combines our youth orchestra, summer camp and annual childrens’ jazz festival to focus on America’s “First Lady of Song”.  In honor of the “First Lady of Song’s” 103rd birthday, the Blues Alley Jazz Society has partnered with some of America’s most prestigious institutions to create a unique vocal competition to honor this important contributor of American music.

The Blues Alley Jazz Society counts some of America’s most distinguished foundations, cultural and educational institutions as our principal sponsors or partners. Over the course of more than half a century, our namesake nightclub has presented some of the most formidable names within American musicana, including our vocal competition namesake Ms. Ella Fitzgerald. Ms. Fitzgerald’s contribution to the Great American Songbook extended over a total of six decades and 79 years. The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation has worked tirelessly and strenuously to also honor Ms. Fitzgerald’s lifelong commitment to American music and for that we are eternally grateful.

The Ella Fitzgerald jazz vocal competition reflects a decades-long effort in the making to return one-of-the world’s most critically acclaimed voices back to center stage. Ms. Fitzgerald was largely known as a pioneer interpreter of popular song but she was also the first female big band leader in American history. She is less well known for her humanitarian contributions worldwide and for donating to the future of American music education. This competition is intended to embrace this great American tradition on the occasion of her 102nd birthday and to maintain her legacy for generations to come. We hope that you will too.


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