BKCM Announces 2nd Year Of Jazz Leaders Fellowship For Musicians From Harlem To Hollis

March 22, 2022

Midway through a successful inaugural year, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music (BKCM) is thrilled to announce that applications are open through May 15, 2022, for the second year of the Jazz Leaders Fellowship (JLF) program. This initiative aims to support emerging Black women and Black non-binary jazz musicians in creating original music, to increase their representation as leaders in the field, to broaden the presence of BKCM in the jazz community and to expose BKCM’s students to diverse emerging teachers.

The program was conceived by BKCM Board member Daniel DiPietro and developed by the Jazz Leaders Fellowship Committee, led by renowned musician and educator Fay Victor (learn more about the committee below).

The fellowship is made possible by the generous support of DiPietro and his wife Alexis and includes a $12,500 award for each of the two recipients.

Additionally, BKCM will empower and aid recipients in their paths toward music leadership through teaching and performance opportunities, access to BKCM’s rehearsal spaces, participation in BKCM’s Jazz Program advisory panel and more.

“We are pleased to announce the opening of applications for the second year of the Jazz Leaders Fellowship,” said DiPietro. “The community’s response to the fellowship has been inspiring, and the sheer number of talented applicants has reinforced our belief that this initiative helps address a real need.”

“What a great first year!” said JLF Committee Chair Fay Victor. “Working as the Committee Chair has been an amazing journey of discovery, complete with incredible support from BKCM faculty and staff, the Committee and Daniel DiPietro. I’m so proud of the work all those involved did to build, promote and develop the fellowship. We’re thrilled to start a new submission round to give two more Black women or non-binary jazz artists the opportunity to focus more on their artistic practice and form lasting connections with BKCM.”

Inaugural recipients Jordyn Davis and Charenée Wade remained engaged with the BKCM community throughout the yearlong fellowship, which began in August 2021.

During her year in the fellowship, Jordyn Davis has spent time mentoring and playing music with students in the BKCM Jazz Program, performing with BKCM jazz faculty members and members of the Creative Music Ensemble. She also presented an original concert – “The Exceptional Muses of Jazz” – at the BKCM concert hall in March.

“My experience has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Davis. “My masterclass with the students was especially empowering, not only for them but also for me – I learned so much by speaking with and playing alongside such talented young people. Everybody that I have encountered in this community has been incredibly positive, creative and encouraging.”

Charenée Wade will lead a workshop for BKCM students and present a special concert at the BKCM concert hall on Saturday, April 30, 2022. Details will be announced soon.

Applicants for the Jazz Leaders Fellowship must meet the following criteria:

  • Black women or Black non-binary jazz musicians (vocal/instrumental)
  • 21 years and older
  • Applicants at all career stages are encouraged to apply
  • Currently enrolled full-time students are not eligible

Below is the timeline:

  • March 17– May 15: Application period
  • Mid-June: Two winners announced
  • August 1, 2022 – July 31, 2023: Fellowship

The Jazz Leaders Fellowship Committee

Fay Victor (Chair – musician and educator)

Ramona Candy (visual artist, writer, curator)

Felisha George* (recording artist, lyricist)

Lezlie Harrison (vocalist, bandleader, WBGO personality)

Marika Hughes (cellist, singer, storyteller)

Chiwoniso Kaitano (Executive Director, Girl Be Heard)

Toya Lillard (Executive Director, viBE Theater Experience)

Liliahn Majeed (SVP, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Officer Universal Music Group)

Rohit Oomman* (Jazz guitarist and BKCM alum)

LaFrae Sci (multi-instrumentalist, composer)

*Youth Members

For more information on this program and to apply, please visit BKCM.org/JLF. For application information, please contact JLF@bkcm.org. For press inquiries, please contact lauren.morrow@bkcm.org. Follow the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music on social media: @brooklynconservatory on Instagram and Facebook, @bkconservatory on Twitter

Jazz Leaders

Charenée Wade is a critically-acclaimed singer, composer, arranger and educator who took first runner-up in the 2010 Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition. A recipient of the 2017 Jazz at Lincoln Center Millennial Swing Award, she has worked with greats including Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride and Robert Glasper, among many others. She is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and has performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Jazz Standard, The Apollo, and at festivals worldwide including Montreux, the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival and more. Wade has taught around the world, including at the Aaron Copland School, the Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University, and the Juilliard School. chareneewade.com | Facebook: @chareneemusic | Instagram & Twitter: @chareneewade

Jordyn Davis is a bassist, composer, songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who was the first African-American woman at Michigan State University to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Composition and the first student to earn degrees in Music Composition and Jazz Studies concurrently (she also recently earned her Master’s from the university). She has composed and arranged over 20 works for film, contemporary classical chamber ensembles, symphony orchestras, wind ensembles, and jazz ensembles. She has also performed and worked with artists such as Rodney Whitaker, Micheal Dease, Bruce Barth, Wycliffe Gordon & The Black Excellence Trombone Choir, Ingrid Jensen, Rick Roe, Etienne Charles and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Davis is the founder of an indie rock/neo-soul project called Composetheway. composetheway.com |Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Soundcloud: @composetheway

Jazz Leaders Fellowship Committee 

Fay Victor (JLF Committee Chair) is an improvising vocalist, composer, lyricist and educator who has released 11 critically-acclaimed albums as a bandleader. She has taken her distinctive style – rooted in the jazz vocal idiom and infused with global influences – to venues around the globe, including Symphony Space, The Whitney Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The Hammer Museum, The Kolner Philharmonie, The Earshot Jazz Festival, and the Bimhuis. Currently on the faculty at The New School of Jazz & Contemporary Music as well as LIU’s Roc Nation School of Music, Sports and Entertainment. Victor has worked with luminaries including William Parker, Archie Shepp, Nicole Mitchell and Tyshawn Sorey. She is a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble and has been featured in “The Wall Street Journal,” “The New York Times” and “Rolling Stone,” among many other outlets.

Brooklyn-born artist Ramona Candy uses color, movement and texture to create vivid, choreographically inspired collages, which often celebrate her Caribbean heritage. Her latest series is a reflection on Sankofa/Black history. Candy’s work captures the heart and soul of people, places and situations, making her not only a visual artist, curator, writer, performer, speaker, mentor and producer, but something beyond – a motivational artist. She enjoys working with her community and is currently Director of the Council for the Arts at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn.

Felisha George is a recording artist, performer, lyricist and conjurer of rhythmic color. She has taught songwriting and performance in elementary, middle and high schools across the tri-state area, using hip hop as a source. She is committed to serving, affirming and uplifting the youth in the communities around her by being an active listener, an engaged mentor and a source of inspiration. George is an embodied learner, honoring lineage to create allusive duality and soulful flows, a pure rooted storyteller.

Lezlie Harrison is a vocalist both bold and subtle, who brings her distinctive sound to all that she sings – be it jazz, blues, gospel, soul, the Great American Songbook or original compositions. She is a presenter and curator for premier jazz station WBGO, and launched the world-renowned Jazz Gallery along with the late Dale Fitzgerald and trumpeter Roy Hargrove.

Cellist and singer Marika Hughes has worked with artists including Whitney Houston, Lou Reed, David Byrne, Adele, D’Angelo and Taylor Mac, and held the cello chair at the Broadway show Hadestown. She was a founding member of the Bay Area bands 2 Foot Yard and Red Pocket, leads the bands Bottom Heavy and The New String Quartet, and has self-released three albums. Hughes is the co-founder and co-director of Looking Glass Arts – an artist residency and youth education program in upstate New York – is a master teacher and director for Young Arts and a teaching artist at Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project.

Chiwoniso Kaitano is the Executive Director of Girl Be Heard, a global NGO that develops, amplifies, and celebrates the voices of young women. She has had a long nonprofit career – including time as the Executive Director of Brooklyn’s Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy – and is dedicated to helping organizations at the forefront of arts and culture, social justice, youth education and social services. Chiwoniso has long been involved in the arts scene and serves on the Board of Trustees for The Center for Fiction, International Contemporary Ensemble and the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance.

Toya Lillard is a theater director, artist, activist and educator who has worked extensively in developing curricula and implementing teaching artist training programs in schools. Before becoming the Executive Director of viBE Theater Experience, a nonprofit that empowers young women and nonbinary youth of color, she was the Director of School Programs for The New York Philharmonic’s Education Department. Lillard teaches at The New School and CUNY CityTech, serves on the Board of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable and is an Affiliate Representative on the Board of the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance.

Liliahn Majeed is the SVP, Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Officer at the Universal Music Group where she promotes innovative and diverse recruiting and retention programs for artists, fans, team members and partners. A 15-year veteran of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) team marketing and business operations group, she developed meaningful community programming as the Vice president, diversity and inclusion for the NBA.

Rohit Oomman is a jazz guitarist from Brooklyn, NY. He is a freshman at Princeton University who intends to major in Economics and pursue a certificate in Jazz Studies. A former student of the Brooklyn Conservatory, he is excited to be involved with the organization as it continues to expand its resources for a widening array of students and musicians.

LaFrae Sci is an award-winning, internationally-acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, band leader, educator and composer who has created music for film, theater, and jazz and classical orchestras. While Sci’s career is rooted in everything from the blues to spirituals to Afro-futuristic soundscapes, she is a conceptualist whose compositions transcend genres, cultures, and boundaries, and is able to write music for myriad instruments. Her career spans 30 years and 38 countries.

The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music

The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music transforms lives and builds community through the expressive, educational and therapeutic powers of music. Our Park Slope home offers private music lessons, group classes, ensembles and music therapy. Through our community engagement programs, we bring high-quality music education and music therapy to thousands of students and clients at public schools and community-based organizations across the city’s five boroughs. We strive to be a safe, affirming and inclusive place for all people to come together and experience learning, joy, creativity and healing through music

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