Jazz Music Awards Announce Winners in Historic Ceremony


Christian McBride & Inside Straight, Samara Joy and Ragan Whiteside were among the winners of the first annual Jazz Music Awards, presented October 22 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Produced by WCLK-FM, the campus radio station of Clark Atlanta University, the presentation was the first large-scale awards ceremony dedicated solely to celebrating jazz music and the artists who create it, who will be held live and in person since the start of the covid19 pandemic. NEA singer and jazz master Dee Dee Bridgewater and actor Delroy Lindo co-hosted the event.

McBride and his quintet Inside Straight scooped two of eight competitive awards, taking home the trophies for Best Mainstream Artist and Best Album by a Duo, Group or Big Band (for Live at Village Vanguard). Twenty-four-year-old singer Joy was named best new artist, while flautist Whiteside took home the award for best contemporary artist.

Somi and Stacey Kent, who tied for best vocal performance (with the albums Zenzile: the reimagining of Miriam Makeba and Songs from elsewhere, respectively); Bob Baldwin, whose Stay Home Series, Vol. 1 won Best Contemporary Album; Orrin Evans’ The magic of today and that of Kenny Garrett The sounds of the ancestors, tied for Best Mainstream Album; and Norman Brown’s “Back At Ya,” which was the fan’s choice for song of the year.

In addition to the competitive awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to legendary saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, while Clark Atlanta jazz teacher James Patterson received the Jazz Impact Award. The ceremony also featured performances from Dianne Reeves, Garrett, the Baylor Project, Ledisi, Brandee Younger, Lizz Wright, Jazzmeia Horn, Somi, Lindsey Webster and Tia Fuller, all under the musical direction of Terri Lyne Carrington.

Visit the Jazz Music Awards website for more information.

Correction: An earlier version of this story simply, and incorrectly, stated that the Jazz Music Awards ceremony in Atlanta was “the first large-scale awards ceremony devoted solely to the celebration of jazz music and the artists who create it.” . In fact, since 1996 the Association of Jazz Journalists has held a highly regarded and completely independent annual Jazz Awards ceremony. We regret this error.

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Henry R. Wright