THE 2020-21 ELLA FITZGERALD COMPETITION HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL APRIL 23, 2022. The 2019-20 event will be conducted between April 23-25, 2021 in Washington, DC. Of the five finalists selected for this year’s competition two are overseas and incapable of attending this year’s competition due to the global pandemic and this year’s international travel ban. Next year’s event will coincide with our 16th annual BIG BAND JAM! and our previously planned schedule will be replicated if circumstances permit. Our celebrity judge will continue to be GRAMMY-award winning vocalist Lisa Fischer. Our judges remain:

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

The final competition will take place at the iconic Blues Alley Jazz supper club in Washington, DC between 12-3:00 pm on Saturday, April 24th with the doors opening at 11:00 am. There is no cost for admission however donations are encouraged. Seating will be limited to the first 100 reservations on a first-come, first served basis and there will be limited refreshments available for purchase. We remain committed to keeping this event as inexpensive as possible and are therefore seeking underwriters to help us sustain and expand this important programming for generations to come.

  • 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.