Jazzmeia Horn Wins Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition
The winner of the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition is Jazzmeia Horn. Originally from Dallas, Ms. Horn, 23, is a singer with a smart, steadfast connection to the jazz-vocal tradition, as defined by predecessors like Betty Carter and Sarah Vaughan. Since moving to New York in 2009 to attend the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, she has been a regular presence on the club scene, often with her band, the Artistry of Jazz Horn.
Ms. Horn won the competition on Sunday night, in a gala concert at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, which also featured a tribute to the producer Quincy Jones, this year’s recipient of the Thelonious Monk Institute’s Herbie Hancock Humanitarian Award. Among the featured artists were several of the competition’s judges — Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Freddy Cole — and a past vocal winner, Gretchen Parlato.
The Monk Competition, which changes its instrumental focus from year to year, is widely recognized as the most prestigious of its kind for jazz, and an important boost to young careers. The last time the competition spotlighted singers, in 2010, the winner was Cécile McLorin Salvant, a relative unknown who has since become one of the most acclaimed artists in her field.
Ms. Horn sealed her win with performances of the jazz standards “Moanin’” and “Detour Ahead,” backed by a house rhythm section of Reggie Thomas on piano, Rodney Whitaker on bass and Carl Allen on drums. The competition runners-up, culled from a pool of 11 semifinalists, were Veronica Swift of Charlottesville, Va., and Vuyolwethu Sotashe of Mthatha, South Africa.
Two years ago Ms. Horn won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, in Newark. As the winner of the Monk Competition she will receive a $25,000 music scholarship and a recording contract with the Concord Music Group.