Born in the Bronx, Samara Joy has musical roots through her paternal grandparents, founders of the Philadelphia-based gospel group The Savettes. Another inspiration came from her father, who toured with famed gospel artist Andraé Crouch.
“Growing up, my house was always filled with music, from the sounds of my dad’s and grandparents’ songs, to many gospel and R&B artists, including Stevie Wonder, George Duke and many more,” he said. she recalls.
Joy was first introduced to jazz while attending Fordham High School for the Arts, where she performed regularly with the jazz band and eventually won Best Vocalist in an Essentially Ellington competition.
“But jazz wasn’t my real focus until I went to college at SUNY Purchase and was accepted into their acclaimed jazz program, with a faculty that includes many jazz masters. – like guitarist Pasquale Grasso and drummer Kenny Washington,” says Joy.
In college, her love of jazz was sparked by her friends.
“They were all really into jazz and shared a lot of their recordings with me. But the turning point came when I listened to Sarah Vaughan’s version of ‘Lover Man’.” And then I got addicted,” says Joy.
Joy won the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and was named a 2020 Ella Fitzgerald Fellow by the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation.
Joy has previously performed at many of New York’s well-known jazz venues, including The Blue Note and Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, and has worked with some of the biggest names in jazz, including bassist Christian McBride, trumpeter Jon Faddis and the pianist Cyrus. Chestnut. Later this month she will tour Italy with pianist Emmet Cohen.
‘Stardust’ – Samara Joy – Whirlwind Sessions
Looking ahead, Joy says she would like to perform on a much bigger scale and maybe work in movies.
One of his big challenges “is getting people to understand what it (jazz) means. After all, jazz is really black American music. Jazz is part of black history, and it’s is a part of American history. It’s important music. It’s great music. And I hope I can convey that when I play.”
Joy looks forward to sharing her passionate love for jazz as a unifying force and catalyst for change in the years to come.
Hear Samara Joy sing “Moonglow” from her debut album on KNKX Midday and Evening Jazz.