We are pleased to announce the first winner of the Ella Fitzgerald Competition on the occasion of its namesake’s centennial celebration. The winner of our competition is Ms. Alyssa Allgood of Chicago, Illinois. Ms. Allgood completed her Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Studies from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois where she won the coveted Downbeat Magazine Student Music Award for Best Collegiate Vocal Jazz Soloist in 2014. Ms. Allgood is a jazz vocalist who has repeatedly received recognition as an artist who “impressively sings, scats and writes original lyrics” (DownBeat Magazine).
Ms. Allgood has previously performed at the 2016 Chicago Jazz Festival, The Green Mill, The Jazz Showcase, Fitzgerald’s Nightclub and headlined the 2016 Ottawa 2 Rivers Wine Fest. She was named a Top 15 Finalist in the 2016 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, a 2016 Jazz Fellow through the Luminarts Cultural Organization in Chicago and 2nd place winner in the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Voice Competition. She currently works at MYA Conservatory as the Jazz and Choral Programs Coordinator, theory instructor, private lesson teacher and substitute ensemble director. She will be directing their first Vocal Jazz Workshop summer program in July 2017.
Allyssa Allgood beat out a field of 40 registrants and 20 finalists. The 5 semi-finalists competed before 4 judges on Saturday, April 29th on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, DC. The event attracted both fans and reporters alike as the contestants selected songs from the 1963 recording “Ella and Basie”. The competition similarly celebrated the musical arrangements of orchestra impresario William “Count” Basie. The competition was a component of the 13th Annual BIG BAND JAM. The 2018 competition will once again take place on the campus of George Washington University between April 27th-29th and our theme will be the Antonio Carlos Jobim songbook. Charts and further details to follow.
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 children’s jazz festival to focus on America’s “First Lady of Song”. In honor of the “First Lady of Song’s” 102nd 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.