HARTFORD — City native Dana Lauren is among a dozen jazz musicians selected from applicants from around the world to be semifinalists in the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition in Washington, D.C.
The competition, slated for Oct. 3-4 at the Smithsonian and Kennedy Center, will feature semifinalists from France, Germany, Japan, and the United States. These budding jazz musicians will compete for over $100,000 in scholarships and prizes, including a guaranteed recording contract with Concord Records.
Lauren, 22, began her classical training at age 15. She currently studies at the Berklee College of Music, where she plans to complete her degree in vocal performance this fall. In 2008, her band, the Dana Lauren Sextet, was chosen as one of four groups to study with Christian McBride and other jazz greats at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Academy.
Lauren will join Simsbury native Richard Saunders, who started singing at age two. He attended the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, where he began studying jazz. Saunders was the first vocalist to sing with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra at the 2009 Monterey Jazz Festival and North Sea Jazz Festival. Saunders studies at the New England Conservatory of Music.
Both semifinalists will have the pleasure of meeting President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama, who are the Honorary Co-Chairs of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition Finals & Tribute to the Great American Songbook Gala Concert.
They will also get to be in the company of Aretha Franklin, the judge of the event — along with legendary jazz vocalists Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Al Jarreau, Patti Austin, and Dianne Reeves. The Queen of Soul will also receive the 2010 Maria Fisher Founder’s Award.