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.
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.
Vocalist and Executive Director of Generations of Vocal Jazz
Alison Crockett, Soul and Jazz Diva, who has been in the worldwide the music scene as a vocalist and educator for decades has created a program/performance that seeks to educate and include singers of all ages and generations in the joy of singing Vocal Jazz. Alison has been an award winning and prolific Jazz, soul, and electronica vocalist and has been featured on dozens of recordings including King Britt in his Neo-soul creation, “When the Funk hits the Fan”, the acid jazz and hip hop mash up of Us3 “An Ordinary Day in and Unusual Place”, as well as two EPs and four full length records most notably the chart topping “On Becoming a Woman…”
She has been described as “Mix [of] Nina Simone’s urgency, Betty Carter’s chops and Jill Scott’s sass, and you’ll get the bold and bravura vocalist Alison Crockett…”. Alison then released “Return of Diva Blue”, a electronica remix record, “Bare” an acoustic piano based record, “Mommy, What’s a Depression?” a political mashup of funk, jazz, electronica and soul originals and jazz standards and finally, “Obrigada” an EP recorded in Brazil of originals and Bossa nova classics. Alison has always been a craftsman, journeying through different genres, seeing the musical world through new eyes each time. She has toured the world several times over, working and recording with multiple artists in various genres.
Alison has also spent the last two decades of her life promoting music and jazz vocal education. As a University Professor first at Temple University and then at George Washington University she has trained jazz and pop vocalists privately and through the jazz choral ensemble, GW JiVE. She has worked with school age children as the Musical Director of Highbridge Voices, writing, arranging and conducting over 250 children from the Bronx, to being the Choral Music instructor at the prestigious Fillmore Arts Center in Washington, DC for over 10 years. In her last year of teaching at Fillmore, she started to center totally on jazz choral education, exposing students to the joy of swinging and scatting and understanding the history and culture of Jazz music. This was the genus of Generations of Vocal Jazz the performance festival.
Generations of Vocal Jazz goal is to create intergenerational connections through the performance and study of choral jazz music. This program initially culminated in a performance featuring singers from the Baby Boomers and Generation X (Capitol Voices of Levine School of Music) to Millennials (GW JiVE jazz choir), all the way to the present generation Z (Fillmore Jazz Choir). The DC area has a plethora of successful jazz professional and amateur singers. The vocal jazz community is strongly interconnected, but not with the K-12 choral community. GVJ seeks to rectify that through partnerships with schools, teacher trainings, and performances, most notably the Generations of Vocal Jazz performance, held annually at George Washington University.