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Loyola University New Orleans Voice Instructor Wins Grand Prize in Sixth Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition

Loyola press release - November 14, 2017

As overall winner of the SASSY Awards, Quiana Lynell receives record deal, cash prize, and platform to launch her career

Howl! Quiana Lynell, a voice instructor in the Loyola University New Orleans Department of Popular and Commercial Music took home the grand prize Sunday in the Sixth Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey, in conjunction with the TD James Moody Festival. Known as the SASSY awards, the elite contest honors the talent and tradition of the competition’s namesake as the only international jazz competition of its kind, providing a platform for one outstanding jazz singer to launch a career within the music industry.

Lynell was among five finalists to perform in the grand competition. Lynell; Tiffany Austin of Berkley, Calif.; Christine Fawson of Albuquerque, N.M., Fabio Giacalone of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Tatiana “LadyMay” Mayfield of Fort Worth, Texas were selected via public voting online from more than 600 submissions. The five finalists performed before a panel of judges, who evaluated finalists’ performances “for vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation and the ability to swing,” according to contest rules. As grand prize winner, Lynell received a $5,000 cash prize, an offer for a record deal with the Concord Music Group, and a platform to embark on a career in the music business.

Singer and songwriter Quiana Lynell has performed as a soloist with jazz and symphony orchestras alike. Five-time Grammy Award-winner Terence Blanchard said: “’Where have you been and why am I just hearing you’ was my thought when I first heard her sing. However, she is not just a voice but a composer with something to say.”

Studying vocal performance at Louisiana State University outfitted Lynell with the skills to avast an impressive repertoire and to showcase her multi-octave instrument. She’s worked alongside masters of jazz and the American Songbook, such as Terence Blanchard, the Preservation Hall Band, and Aaron Neville.

“I see music as the soundtrack of life and I enjoy each opportunity to share memories and moments in the lives of those around me,” Lynell says. “Participating in the contest was an honor and has now catapulted me to have the stage and attention I need to progress my career. I am grateful to have the support of the New Orleans musical community as I continue to grow as a Jazz artist.”

Lynell, a native of Tyler, Texas who now lives outside New Orleans, teaches voice in the Popular and Commercial Music program in the Loyola University New Orleans College of Music and Fine Arts. Launched two years ago, the Bachelor of Science in Popular and Commercial Music Degree program in Loyola’s acclaimed Department of Film and Music Industry Studies is one of the top three most popular degree programs among first-year students at Loyola and has already doubled in size since fall 2015. Lynell teaches voice to aspiring vocalists and musicians at Loyola.

“At Loyola University New Orleans, we teach students in the College of Music and Fine Arts not only how to refine their art, but how to attain entrepreneurial success in the creative professions,” says Kate Duncan, extraordinary professor of Popular and Commercial Music and coordinator of the degree program. “The students in our program learn not only the value of perfecting their art as musicians, but also how to create a career using that art. With Quiana, we are so grateful to have such a deeply talented instructor who encourages students to take risks and to carve meaningful life-paths as professional musicians.”