After hundreds of auditions, eight finalists took the stage in Harlem this past weekend for the Eighth Jazzmobile Vocal Competition. Performing three more rounds before an enthusiastic crowd, the distinguished judges selected Laura Brunner the First Runner-up. Brunner, alumnus of Bishop Watterson High School (class of ’02), and former member of the Columbus Children’s Chorus and Columbus Youth Choral at Capital University, has been pursuing a career as a jazz vocalist in New York City.
Held at the Dinosaur Barbecue on 125th Street, in the heart of Harlem, the competition featured three distinguished judges: singer songwriter and educator Dr. Dee Daniels, BET Jazz Discovery winner Eve Cornelious, and Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Carla Cook. Vocalists competed for First Prize and First Runner-up. The two winners received cash awards and will perform as part of the Jazzmobile roster of musicians, following in the footsteps of such jazz greats as Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie, George Benson, Wynton Marsalis, and Columbus’s own Nancy Wilson.
Brunner’s performance spanned the many shades of jazz, from Duke Ellington to Antonio Carlos Jobim,. She delighted the audience with a sultry, dirty blues number that included her personal lyric that brought the house down. Her unique voice, with its rich colorful timbres and incredible range, combined with her rhythmic sophistication and her dexterity in vocal improvisation, made for a truly original sound.
“Laura has great chops and her future looks very bright!” says panel judge Eve Cornelious.
Jazzmobile has played an intimate role in the preservation and propagation of America’s true art form, Jazz. Founded over 45 years ago by legendary musician and educator Dr. Billy Taylor, Jazzmobile produces a series of free concerts including the Harlem International Jazz Festival as well as many educational programs, bringing Jazz to future generations.
This is not Laura’s first prestigious award. She won First Runner-up in the 2007 Montreux Jazz Festival Vocal Competition. Laura’s unique heartfelt performances have led her to share the stage with an extraordinary array of musicians including Kurt Elling, Ellis Marsalis, and Esperanza Spalding. She has performed at The Boston Pops Jazz Festival, The International Association of Jazz Educators Convention, and the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Arts in Residence Program at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
In addition to live performances, Laura has been interviewed as a featured artist on Boston’s 89.7 WGBH National Public Radio and on Break Thru Radio’s “The Jazz Hole”. She is currently recording her debut album, set to be released in 2013, and looks forward to a concert series in her hometown. Laura Brunner can currently be seen performing in the Midwest, New England, and New York City areas.