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A native of Buffalo, NY, Teagan Faran is a multidisciplinary musician focused on enacting social change through the arts. She has recorded with the Buffalo Tango Orkestra, La Martino Orquesta Típica, and had compositions featured at the NYSSMA Conference and the Persis Vehar Competition for Excellence. Faran has recently served as concertmaster of the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra and the Ann Arbor Camerata and was a member of the Orquesta Escuela de Emilio Balcarce.
As a soloist, Faran has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra (including a performance in Salsomaggiore Terme, Italy), the Ann Arbor Camerata, the Williamsville East Symphonic Orchestra, and the University of Vermont Symphony.
Administratively, she worked as the AAC’s executive director for a season, and held internship positions in the Marketing and Education Departments of the Buffalo Philharmonic, and Education and Concerts/Touring with Jazz at Lincoln Center. She founded Ann Arbor arts collective Red Shoe Company and is a teaching artist with the Kennedy Center, the University Musical Society and the Sphinx Organization.
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Faran moved to Buenos Aires on a Fulbright grant. Faran was also a Turn The Spotlight Fellow, receiving their inaugural Hedwig Holbrook Prize. Faran participated in OneBeat, a fellowship in musical diplomacy and is currently attending the Manhattan School of Music, pursuing a Masters in Contemporary Performance.
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“Live music is not unlike flying trapeze; one must be confident, fully engaged, and ideally, joyful”, says vocalist and former co-owner of Emerald City Trapeze Arts, Kari Kirkland. After eight years in Seattle working as a professional circus artist, she left the dazzle of the Big Top and the death-defying practice behind to take center stage as a full-time musician in Southern California.
The Canadian-born daughter of two US musicians, Kari’s childhood was spent crisscrossing North America by car. She played in pop, rock, cabaret, and jazz groups through the early 2000’s in Canada and the US before moving to Europe in 2003 where she spent many years writing, recording, and performing.
Kari’s debut jazz album, Wild is the Wind, was recorded at United Recording in LA with Dean Parks, Kevin Axt, Gregg Field, and Shelly Berg. Adding even more sparkle are acclaimed percussionist Brian Kilgore, three-time Grammy winner John Daversa, and two-time Grammy winner Roy Hargrove. While the presence of jazz greats such as Berg and Hargrove establish Wild is the Wind as a jazz vocal album, the selection of songs cross musical boundaries, ranging from Adult Contemporary, pop, and blues, with moments of Latin and cabaret. Kari’s voice is sultry and sensual, gently finding its place among the at-times ethereal, at times straight-ahead swinging arrangements. Named the “Editor’s Pick” in Jazz Times April, 2021, Dan Bilawski remarked of ‘Wild is the Wind’, “...keeping good company while artfully walking the line where jazz and adult contemporary meet, Kari Kirkland proves that she’s finally right where she belongs.” In July, 2021, ‘Break Your Heart’ entered the Billboard Adult Contemporary Charts at #30, and reached #28 in August, 2021. In February, 2022, Kari was included on The Absolute Sound’s List of “13 Female Jazz Artists You Need To Hear”.
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Alexis Lombre is a pianist, vocalist and composer from Chicago who discovered early that the true essence of music is not just about what you hear but how music makes you feel. Her musical mission is to keep the ‘Soul’ in music alive. The 2017 release of her debut album, “Southside Sounds”, does just that, as it is a soulful straight-ahead reflection of her upbringing on Chicago’s Southside. This collection of her original compositions is an attempt to pay homage to the Southside’s lively artistic, cultural heritage influenced by Eddie Harris & Gene Ammons. In 2021, Lombre released her most recent single “Come Find Me” which she describes as “lyrically, a gospel song; harmonically, a jazz song and rhythmically, a hip-hop/R&B song. I didn’t create the song with any borders”. As JazzTimes puts it “Lombre says realized early on that by refusing to be constrained by convention— whether so-called “jazz” or otherwise—she’d be honoring, rather than defiling, the rich heritage she’d come to embrace.”In the May 2019, Lombre toured the Midwest with her group, the Alexis Lombre Trio, and in January 2019 she toured South Africa with Englewood-Soweto Exchange that was powered by a MacArthur grant led by Ernest Dawkins. In 2017 she toured France with Bacongo Square Boulevard, a trio comprised of French, Congolese & American musicians. She has also played with internationally known musicians such as: Nicole Mitchell, Jamila Woods, the AACM Great Black Music Ensemble, Laurin Talese, Junius Paul, Makaya McCraven, Donald Harrison, Bobby Watson, Buster Williams, Wadada Leo Smith, Dee Alexander, J Moss, Cece Peniston, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Nona Hendrix. Lombre’s band has been opening acts for Chris Dave & the Drumhedz and Marquis Hill and she was also featured in JazzTimes, the Chicago Tribune, the Detroit Metro Times and Vocalo.
—“At , Alexis Lombre has the work ethic of a veteran jazz star. “- Detroit Metro Times.
Jen Martinez-Bre is a physically disabled Peruvian/Cuban-American vibraphonist, percussionist, disability advocate, composer, festival curator and educator currently based in South Florida. Her performance style and initiatives have been commended by organizations such as the Gold Coast Jazz Society and the Percussive Arts Society in the form of scholarships and grants to continue her pursuits. In her handful of years studying, Jen has been under the tutelage of Stefon Harris and Tony Miceli – as well as local jazz heavyweights Rodolfo Zuniga, Fernando Ulibarri, Jason Hainsworth, and her original mentor Hector “Pocho” Neciosup.
Jen previously served as the Treasurer for the non-profit organization, Modern Marimba. During her term, she curated the first women in jazz vibes festival, “VibeFest”, as well as the first virtual showcase of singing percussionists, “Mallets+Voice Fest” – both livestreamed on Facebook.
This past year, Jen was interviewed for Percussive Notes magazine for their Feb 2021 edition. Topics ranged from disability advocacy, Afro-Latin jazz music, and the lack of appreciation of the origins of percussion in academia. She previously served as a subcommittee member for the Accessibility Committee for the Percussive Arts Society’s Diversity Alliance and currently serves as an Affiliate member of The Vibraphone Project.
More recently, Jen co-founded the ongoing translated interview/masterclass series “Mate Meetup in Espanglish” with Pauline Roberts to bridge the gap between the English and Spanish speaking music industry.
Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTubeCiara Moser was born 1996 in Dublin, Ireland. As a multi-talented blind musician playing several instruments, she dedicated herself to her real love the bass guitar at the age of fourteen.In May 2018, Ciara passed her Bachelor exams at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna (major: bass guitar) with first class honours. She is currently involved in various band and studio projects and offers online and in person lessons in bass, ear training, composition, music theory and more. Beside taking part in many competitions and winning awards, including for example the “Tara – Life goes on”-award or the “Prima La Musica”-competition Ciara was a guest in various TV-Shows, radio-shows and podcasts like for example the well-known Austrian TV-Shows “Barbara Karlig” and “Vera”.Ciara has taken part at the 5 Week Aspire "Women’s Performance Program" at Berklee College of Music, Boston MA. She studied one semester in the Berklee undergraduate program and in December 2021 she finished her masters at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. Since March 2019. Ciara has her own podcast called “Blind. So What?” in which she talks about daily life as a blind person, Ciara currently works as an accompanist bassist at the Berklee voice and ensemble department. In January 2022, she performed with the “Global Jazz women”, led by Patricia Perez and taught master classes at the Panama Jazz Festival.
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Ana Nelson is a clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer/arranger known for her multi-genre diversity in jazz, classical, and Latin jazz styles. Professionally, she has been recognized as an up-and-coming young artist with a unique musical and compositional voice. Ana has performed and recorded with artists such as Michael Spiro, the Buselli Wallarab Ensemble, and Bootsy Collins. Ana’s current project is the NelBap Duo, a Latin jazz influenced piano/saxophone duo with Aruban pianist Jamaal Baptiste. In January of 2020, Ana was awarded the Earl Hines Outstanding Soloist Award presented by Wynton Marsalis at the Jack Rudin Jazz Championship. In 2021, Ana was awarded a Presser Graduate Award from Indiana University to record her debut album of original compositions. Ana received a master’s degree in jazz studies and clarinet performance at Indiana University and is currently pursuing a doctorate in clarinet performance at IU. As an educator, Ana runs her own private studio and is the co-founder of the Virtual Woodwind Academy, an online woodwind education program that offers affordable and high-quality instruction to participants worldwide.
Website | Instagram | TikTok | YouTubeDescribed as the "Swiss Army Knife of bandleaders," Rhonda Sauce is an arranger, composer, lyricist, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist, from Oakland, California. In studying both classical and contemporary music, she developed a passion for Black American Music during her explorations of early-mid 20th century music. Rhonda has been fortunate to collaborate with some of the most brilliant minds in the Bay Area music scene, from Lenny Williams, Faye Carroll, and Jeff Chambers. Her work has filled the rooms of several notable Bay Area venues including Freight and Salvage, Yoshi's, and SF Jazz. Her debut EP, "Back To You," exemplifies her loyalty to the music of yesteryear, forging ahead to craft her unique sound– an innovative approach to musical stylings steeped in the depth and traditions of those who came before her.
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Aretha Scruggs is a Jazz-Gospel singer residing in Los Angeles when she’s not touring the world.
Early on Aretha sang with her family group: The Scruggs Sisters, containing her three sisters and two parents, on accompanying piano and bass. They opened for such artists as: The Clark Sisters, Commissioned, Yolanda Adams and Vickie Winans, and were awarded the opportunity to sing for historical events like: Rosa Park’s 80th Birthday party and the Tuskegee Airmen’s Congressional banquet.
After graduating from UCLA, she and her twin sister went on to tour as background singers for Natalie Cole and later, Christina Aguilera, Anita Baker and Chaka Khan. Through television or live shows, she has also supported legends Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle, singers, Jill Scott, India Arie and producers Justin Timberlake, and Pharrell. She has also sung with gospel greats, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Israel Houghton, Tye Tribbett, Fred Hammond, Marvin Sapp and Yolanda Adams.
Aretha has also built an exciting career as a session singer. She’s recorded studio vocals for such artists as Katie Perry, Anita Baker, Harry Styles, and BeBe Winans, and can be heard on such film and TV projects as Harriet, Just Mercy, Sing 2, Trolls 2, Bad Boys III, Respect, Genius: Aretha, The Godfather of Harlem, Euphoria & Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.
Aretha released her debut jazz-gospel EP, “Not of This World” which includes all original music save for one tribute song “Dindi”, to bossanova great, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Her single “I’m Tired” followed in 2020, as a response to racial injustice, and is currently working on a jazz project that she expects to be out by the end of the year. She counts it an honor that her gift of music has taken her all over the world to 19 countries and counting.
CRISTEN "TEN" SPENCER
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Ten Spencer is the vibrant Black American vocalist representing the West coast. From standard jazz, to soul & R&B, her sultry, honey-sweet voice captures the essence and flow of the art form and invites her audience into her world.
In 2015, Ten began performing on larger stages as a core member of the soul chamber group, Current Personae, and she continues to perform in collaborative settings with bands such as Roccadile, Waterseed and her own ensemble, Ten n The Moanin.
Ten’s sound and songwriting is influenced by her connection to improvisational music, steeped in the contemporary and the traditional of black american music. Her effortless intertwining of the two glow in creative expression, healing and freedom!
Ten is currently working on original music to be released in 2022 and made available on all dsps. The 2019 Jazz Search West Award winner also released a video for her song “Greenah” as an awardee of the 2021 San Jose Jazz Artist grant.
CASSIE WATSON FRANCILLON
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Cassie Watson Francillon explores folk, jazz, classical and experimental music on the harp, having studied directly under harpists Gabriella Pinto, Brandee Younger, Riza Printup, Mia Theodoratus and Patrice Fisher. She composes, teaches, and has served on the board of the New Orleans Chapter of the American Harp Society. She was the Assistant Producer of the annual New Orleans Jazz and Pop Harp Weekend for 2018-2019 and is a producer of the Sirens in the Twilight Music Series for women, nonbinary and femmes in music. She was the principal harpist in 2019 new age opera: The Coronation, debuted at the New Orleans Airlift Music Box Village. Her solo album Luna Nuda was released in 2019.
A multifaceted performer, she can be found in traditional and innovative settings, private engagements and public productions, which include locations of Studio BE, Ace Hotel Three Keys, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Cathedral at Peter and Paul, and the Marigny Opera House where she directed, produced and performed the sold-out production the Eternal Harp of Björk in 2019.
In 2020, Cassie released the acoustic solo album this appears to disappear, which earned her a fellowship with indie-label Joyful Noise Records. She played in the futuristic trio Shakespeare & The Blues and co-produced their 2021 release e.g.: Rhapsodic, recorded at Mark Bingham’s Nina Hwy Studio in Henderson, Louisiana.
Cassie has been sought-after for her unique session work and live productions alongside John Cameron Mitchell, Helen Gillet, Tank and the Bangas, Norah Jones, Julie Odell and People Museum, to name a few. She was selected by Prospect Arts Group to conceptualize and perform a diasporic piece with Guardians of the Flame Black Masking Indians, opening for Christian Scott at the P.5 Gala of 2022.
With inimitable grit, tone, awareness and groove, Cassie crafts a narrative that connects past and future, existing and broken ancestral ties. Her sound and journey reflect the true Black American experience of crafting a precious and arduous legacy, weaving weighted gold threads in mid air.
DANIELLE WERTZWebsite | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube
Danielle Wertz is an award-winning artist on the rise, making a name for herself as a vocalist, composer, educator and arranger. The Oakland-based artist weaves together elements of straight-ahead and modern jazz, folk and the use of her voice as an instrumental texture to create an intimate and personal musical world. Described as, "untarnished by the politics of music" (Jazz Music Archives) and "at home alongside more contemporary exponents of improvised singing" (LoudMouth, AU) Danielle has rapidly gained national acclaim.
After being named a 2015 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition semi-finalist, Danielle independently released her debut album, Intertwined. This collaboration with Israeli pianist, Tal Cohen, was ranked #4 on Capital Bop's list of "Best DC Jazz Albums of 2017" and has continued to receive high praise since its release. That same year Danielle placed 2nd in the inaugural Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Vocal Competition, 3rd in the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Vocal Competition, and co-led a concert at the Smithsonian American Art Museum with Lena Seikaly celebrating women in jazz.
In addition to her solo career, Danielle is an avid collaborator. She has recently been featured on recording projects alongside Javier Santiago, Aaron Janik, Justin Rock, Ambrose Akinmusire, J. Hoard, Elena Pinderhughes, Braxton Cook, Jeff Denson and Andrew Dixon. She has also had the privilege of performing with many renowned musicians in a professional, non-academic setting including Kate McGarry, Cyrille Aimée, Keith Ganz, Shelly Berg, Chris Botti, Michael Bowie, Mark G. Meadows and Chris Grasso.