Chicagoan Jua Howard First Recipient of Mark Murphy Vocal Jazz Scholarship


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Jua Howard, a 30-year-old singer from Chicago and a member of the Jazzschool Institute's 2009 entering class, has just been named the first recipient of the newly established Mark Murphy Vocal Jazz Scholarship, it has been announced by Jazzschool Institute Vocal Director Laurie Antonioli.

“Mark's influence has inspired not only my singing," says Antonioli, “but my devotion to jazz education, as he was my first vocal teacher." Antonioli, along with other Bay Area vocal stars (and Murphy protegees) Kitty Margolis, Madeline Eastman, Ann Dyer, Bobbe Norris, and Joyce Cooling, performed at an October 20 fund-raiser for the scholarship which was held at Yoshi's in Oakland. The idea of celebrating Murphy and his mentorship, of “paying it forward," in Margolis's words, was the primary incentive for establishing the new scholarship.

“We selected Jua Howard, a young man who is not only talented but very motivated to graduate," says Antonioli. “We're thrilled that we are able to help him realize his goals and dreams by presenting him with the first Mark Murphy Vocal Jazz Scholarship."

Jua, who goes by his first name professionally (it means “Sun" in Swahili), attended the Murphy tribute concert at Yoshi's but never expected to find himself on the receiving end of the evening's fund-raising. “I am forever grateful to [Jazzschool Founder/Director] Susan Muscarella and Laurie Antonioli for believing enough in me to support my dream of being a world-class jazz artist," says Jua. “I sacrificed a lot to move to San Francisco and attend the Jazzschool Institute, but I think this is God's way of telling me I made the right choice. I plan to represent the scholarship's namesake and the Jazzschool Institute to the best of my abilities."

A graduate of Emory University in Atlanta, Jua relocated to Washington, DC in 2002 and had the opportunity to work as a featured background vocalist with the Blackbyrds. After recording and releasing his debut album, Anticipation (2007), he found himself drawn more and more to jazz and eventually made the commitment “to equip myself with the necessary tools. That is why I decided to go back to school."

The Jazzschool Institute Vocal Program “focuses on developing the solo artist rather than the Vocal Jazz Ensemble format you find in many universities and colleges," says Antonioli. “We have a world-class band accompanying the vocal students, and they are encouraged to build a repertoire that is both historically relevant and personally suited. The fine art of vocal jazz is a tradition we want to nurture in young singers, and we look forward to having many creative voices pass through our program. We also encourage anyone who'd like to support this art to donate to the Jazzschool Institute Mark Murphy Vocal Jazz Scholarship fund."

Contributions to the Murphy scholarship are tax-deductible and may be made by check (made payable to the Jazzschool) or credit card (by calling the Jazzschool at 510-845-5373).

This story appears courtesy of Terri Hinte.
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