Jessica Boykin-Settles 

Jazz Vocalist  

Jessica Boykin-Settles is a native of Washington DC. She attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts as a Vocal Music Major.

Upon graduating from high school, Jessica moved to New York City and studied jazz at The New School University. Upon her return to Washington, she enrolled in the graduate program in music at Howard University, earning a M.M. degree in Jazz Studies in 2006.

Ms Boykin-Settles first joined the Howard music faculty in 2006. She took a two-year professional break from Howard to pursue a full-time performing career, returning to teaching in the fall of 2014. She has also mentored DC youth through the Washington Jazz Arts Institute.


Darden Purcell
D.C. based jazz vocalist and vocal instructor

dardenDarden 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.


Charenee Wade

Jazz Vocalist

Charenee Wade is a native New Yorker and an alumnus of the famed Fiorella LaGuardia High School and the Manhattan School of Music. She has received both a Bachelor’s of Arts and Master’s degrees in Music Performance. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards including the Thelonious Monk Competition, Millennial Swing Award (Lincoln Center), Young Artist Workshop (Carnegie Hall) and the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program (The Kennedy Center). She is also a passionate educator at clinics and conservatories including the Peabody Institute, the Aaron Copeland School, New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the University of Texas. Previous performance collaborators include Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Winard Harper, Marcus Miller and Stephon Harris. Her most recent recording release on Motema Music label is based upon the music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson.