Pianist, jazz vocalist and vocal instructor
Winner of the Billie Holiday Vocal Competition and semi-finalist in the American Traditions Vocal Competition, jazz vocalist Sara Jones has toured nearly all 50 states and performed in numerous concert halls across the country.
Jones has performed as a soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and Ravinia Festival Orchestra. In the Baltimore/Washington area, Jones was a featured vocalist with the Jazz Ambassadors and has graced the stages of the Hippodrome Theater, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Strathmore Mansion, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Jones, who began her musical career as a pianist, received her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and her Master of Music in Piano Accompanying at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. After graduation, she started a professional vocal career with the Soldiers’ Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band. Now a civilian, Jones maintains an active performing schedule and teaches Jazz and Commercial Voice at Towson University, where she also directs the Towson University Vocal Jazz Ensemble.
Sara Jones’s recording, Daydream A Little, features Grammy-nominated Brazilian jazz group Trio Da Paz and is a lovingly curated CD of Brazilian jazz standards and songs from the Great American Songbook. It is available on Amazon.com, cdbaby.com, and iTunes.
D.C. based jazz vocalist and vocal instructor
Darden Purcell is a Washington D.C. based jazz vocalist. A multi-faceted musician, Ms. Purcell is an active featured soloist with symphony orchestras, big bands and small ensembles, band leader and vocal instructor. Ms. Purcell has shared the stage with top jazz artists including Eric Alexander, Terell Stafford, Jim Pugh, Chip McNeill, Dana Hall, Alan Baylock, Don Heitler, Glenn Wilson, Stockton Helbing, Byron Stripling, Bobby Floyd, Joel Spencer, Darmon Meader, Lisanne Lyons, Jim Carroll, Charlie Young, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, the US Navy Commodores, Naval Academy Big Band, Next Wave, the Airmen of Note, US Army Blues and the American Festival Pops Orchestra, performing at concert halls and clubs throughout the nation, including Blues Alley, The Jazz Kitchen, The Blue Wisp, The Kitchen Cafe, Sandler Center (back-up vocals for Ben Folds) Meyerhoff Center (BSO), Wolf Trap for the Performing Arts (NSO) and The Kennedy Center (back-up vocals for Mr. George Benson, Sara Bareilles and Caroline Shaw). Dr. Purcell is the Director of Jazz Studies, Jazz Voice Instructor and Director of the Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble at George Mason University.
Ms. Purcell is a former Washington DC Air Force Band vocalist, with the groups High Flight and the Airmen of Note, performing nationally and internationally, including Germany, Italy, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Purcell performed back-up vocals for nationally renowned recording artists, Chaka Khan, BeBe Winans, Bryan White, Lari White, Janie Frickie, Freda Payne, Sherrie Payne, Gloria Loring, Melba Moore and Rita Coolidge as well as a televised performance behind Darlene Love on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
In addition to her active performing schedule, Dr. Purcell is a sought-after jazz vocal educator and clinician. Her ensembles have been invited to perform at the New York Voices Jazz Festival (Chicago), Western Michigan’s Gold Company Invitational (Kalamazoo, MI) the 2012 Jazz Education Network (JEN) conference (Louisville, KY), Kansas City Jazz Summit, and JENerations Jazz Festival (New Orleans). Dr. Purcell has served on the faculty of the W.O. Smith Music School camp (Nashville), Illinois Summer Youth Music, George Mason Summer Jazz Workshop, National Jazz Workshop and Music/Arts/Theatre Camp (Evanston, WY). She has been a guest artist/clinician at Illinois Wesleyan University, Texas Tech University, Virginia Tech, Southern Nazarene University and Indiana State School Music Association. Her students have won “Outstanding soloist” and “Outstanding Musicianship” awards at collegiate festivals as well as Downbeat Student Music Awards and military band positions. The Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble won “Outstanding Ensemble” at the Kansas City Jazz Summit and was a featured collegiate ensemble at the 2018 JEN Conference in Dallas, TX. Dr Purcell recently presented at the Institute for Jazz Research “Jazz Voices” conference in Graz, Austria.
Dr. Purcell received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Vocal Jazz Performance at Virginia Tech, a Master of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Darden’s recent CD, Where the Blue Begins, produced by Stockton Helbing with arrangements by Shawn Purcell, can be purchased at iTuned, CDBaby and Amazon.
Sarah Andrew Wilson
Director of Music Education at Levine Music
Sarah Andrew Wilson is currently the Director of Music Education at Levine Music, one of the country’s largest nonprofit community music schools with 3,500 students of all ages and abilities. With a career mission of bringing music to as many people as possible, Wilson has worked with world-renowned performing artists and educators at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, and Washington National Opera. Throughout her career, she has served on Boards, committees, and panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Jazz Education Network, Smithsonian Institution Jazz Appreciation Month, Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, DC Mayor’s Arts Awards, and National Flute Association.
Wilson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the University of North Texas, a Master’s Degree in Music from Arizona State University, and an Executive Certificate in Arts & Culture Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania. In her free time, she enjoys getting her hands messy while painting with acrylics and avoiding shin splints while training for half marathons.
Called “one of the great voices of today,” by Jonathan Schwartz, Alexis Cole has been compared to classic jazz singers such as Sarah Vaughan and Anita O’Day. She’s performed with the Boston Pops and New York Philharmonic on stage at venues from Avery Fisher Hall to the Kennedy Center. She records for Motéma Music, NY, Chesky Records, NY and Venus Records, Japan. Her eleven recordings, which feature musical luminaries such as Fred Hersch, Eric Alexander, Bucky Pizzarelli, Anat Cohen, Matt Wilson, Harry Pickens, Don Braden and Pat LaBarbara, have received high praise in the jazz press and are spun on radio world-wide. In addition to her many performances on great stages, Alexis can be seen at top jazz venues like Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Birdland, The Jazz Standard, Blues Alley, and Billboard Live, Tokyo. Cole is the recipient of a Swing Journal Gold Disk award, and was a winner of the NY Jazzmobile and Montreux Jazz Festival vocal competitions, and a finalist of the Sarah Vaughan Competition. Alexis studied voice and piano at the University of Miami and William Paterson University, and holds a Masters of Music from Queens College. She has also trained in Indian Classical singing at the Jazz India Vocal Institute in Mumbai. She heads the Jazz Voice Program at SUNY Purchase. She performs and conducts master classes around the world.