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The 2017 competition opens
Monday, May 8, 2017.

The competition is open to solo vocalists of all nationalities who are not signed to a major record label and, for the first time this year, both men and women. Singers will be judged on vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation and ability to swing;
winner will receive a Concord Record deal.

Competition Opens: May 8, 2017

Deadline For Entry: September 5, 2017 at 5:00pm

On a Wednesday night in 1942, Newark teenager Sarah Vaughan went to the Apollo Theater to compete in an amateur singing contest. It was the chance to win $10 and a weeklong engagement performing on the Apollo stage. Instead, Vaughan’s win launched a career that would transform America’s original art form and an icon who elevated the craft of jazz vocal music and garnered the respect and adoration of millions. It’s time for history to repeat itself.

Now in its 6th year, The Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition, also known as the SASSY Awards, 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 business.

Previous winners include Jazzmeia Horn (2013) who also was the 2015 winner of the Thelonious Monk Competition, and Cyrille Aimee (2012), the first-ever winner of the competition, whose major label debut in August 2014 was called “a bravura turn, presented with a smile” by
The New York Times.


Watch the Video


NJPAC: The Place for Jazz

About Sarah Vaughan


In 1942, a teenage Sarah Vaughan won the Apollo Theater’s amateur singing competition in a legendary performance that served as a launching pad for a career that transformed one of America’s original art forms and elevated the craft of jazz vocal music.


Sarah Vaughan – Biography


Sarah Vaughan – Fever


Sarah Vaughan – Come Rain Or Come Shine

2016 Competition: Winners Announced!

Hosted by


Rhonda Hamilton

2016 Judges

2016 Finalists

Past Competitions

Want to learn more about the various finalists? Click on their image to see their introduction video!

2015 Judges

2015 Finalists

2014 Judges

2014 Finalists

2013 Judges

2013 Finalists

2012 Judges

2012 Finalists

Sponsored By:

© 2017 Sarah Vaughan Competition

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Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves Four-time Grammy winner Dianne Reeves has recorded and performed extensively with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis, who said of the singer, “She has one of the most powerful, purposeful and accurate voices of this or any time.” She was the first Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the first singer to perform at the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall. Reeves appeared throughout George Clooney’s Good Night and Good Luck and performed every song on the Grammy-winning soundtrack.

Sheila E. Anderson

Sheila E. Anderson

The host of Weekend Jazz After Hours on WBGO Jazz 88.3FM, Sheila E. Anderson is the author of three books, most recently The Little Red Book of Musician’s Wisdom. She is the curator of the Newark Museum’s Jazz in the Gardenseries and a Columbia University Scholar. In 1977, she was elected to the NAACP’s National Board of Directors, a position she held until 1981.

Christian McBride

Christian McBride

NJPAC Jazz Advisor Christian McBride, the recently named Artistic Director of the Newport Jazz Festival, is a five-time Grammy Award-winning bassist-composer who, since the early ‘90s, has recorded over 300 dates as a sideman and released albums as a leader since ’95. Aside from various stints with Sting, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, John McLaughlin and George Duke, among others, McBride tours consistently with his trio and his quintet, Inside Straight. He also fronts the Christian McBride Big Band, whose album The Good Feeling won a 2012 Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

Mark Ruffin

Mark Ruffin

A former musician and songwriter, Mark Ruffin worked for over 20 years as Jazz Editor for Chicago Magazine and has written more than 500 articles on jazz, broadcasting and African-American culture. He also spent years involved in television journalism, winning two Emmy Awards for his efforts in bringing stories about jazz on WTTW-TV/Chicago.

Sheila Jordan

Sheila Jordan

Raised in poverty in Pennsylvania’s coal-mining country, Sheila Jordan began singing as a child and was working in Detroit clubs by her early teens. Her uncompromising style and unique musical trademarks include frequent and unexpected sweeping changes of pitch. She is recognized for her collaborations with bassist Cameron Brown in performance and the recording studio.

Deelee Dubé


An accomplished singer-songwriter, born and raised in London, Deelee Dubé often performs on London’s live music circuit and is the resident singer at saxophonist Rentao D’Aiello’s “Acoustic Jazz Lounge” at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. She has been featured on several collaborative projects with renowned artistes and musicians, such as guitarist John Jallow, with whom she released the successful single, “Rainy Day Blues.” Dubé’s versatile and soulful voice has been heard by audiences throughout Europe and the U.S., and her sound has been compared to such greats as Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday. She is currently working on original material and projects with other musicians and producers.

Sinne Eeg


Sinne Eeg has earned a loyal and rapidly growing fan base in her native Denmark and around the world for her distinctive vocals and original compositions. Born into a musical family, she studied at the prestigious Danish Music Conservatory and has received numerous awards, including the DR P2 Jazz Prize, four Danish Music Awards (Denmark’s GRAMMY®), the Ben Webster Prize (sole female recipient for the past 30 years), and the Prix du Jazz of the French Academie du Jazz. Eeg has made her mark in Japan, China and throughout Europe for her exquisite live performances and award-winning studio recordings. She cites Nancy Wilson, Betty Carter and Sarah Vaughan as her influences.

Lauren Scales


Detroit native Lauren Scales, the daughter of acclaimed jazz artists Charles and Gwen Scales, has been performing most of her life. A graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied with Geri Allen, Ellen Rowe and many other artists, she is currently a songwriting and composition student at New York University. Scales received national recognition for her compositions in the 2016 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center. Blending her jazz background with soul, R&B, pop and classic rock influences, she enjoys taking classic tunes and re-harmonizing them in her own eclectic style. In addition to performing, composing and writing lyrics, Scales is an avid student of poetry.

Teira Lockhart Church


Teira Lockhart Church was a finalist in the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. A jazz and contemporary singer and songwriter based in Los Angeles, she has been honored by the Los Angeles Spotlight Awards (first place, 2007), the Reno Jazz Festival, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts’ YoungArts Competition, and UCLA’s Spring Sing Competition (grand prize, 2015). She has performed at some of the best known venues in L.A., like the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and LACMA, and collaborated with Ted Case on the album Purple Crayon. Church is an arts educator and social activist with Young Angels of America, which fosters a culture of philanthropy in adolescents.

Lauren Bush


Born and raised in Canada, Lauren Bush relocated to London to pursue music on a new level. She recently released her debut album with the help of award-winning vocalist Ian Shaw as producer. Daughter of an accomplished jazz trumpeter father and music teacher mother, it is no surprise that she grew up with an aptitude for singing. Some highlights of her extensive travels around North America include opening for Maynard Ferguson, sharing the stage with Bobby McFerrin, and performing with her quartet at the Corpus Christi Jazz Festival two years running. In London, she played in Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room, among other venues.