Samara Joy photo courtesy of B Natural
BY DAVID BENEDICT
Seattle jazz fans will have an opportunity to witness a mercurial rise to stardom in real time as Samara Joy brings her smooth, preciously refined voice back to Seattle fresh from the Grammy Award-winning stage for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Though this rising superstar is relatively new on the jazz scene, she is no stranger to the stage or prestigious awards, for that matter. The now 23-year-old made a splash in 2019 when she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, putting her in an elite group of jazz vocalists like Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday, and now she comes to Seattle with momentum after winning a Grammy and further proving her status as a jazz singing star.
On Joy’s award-winning album, Linger Awhile, her voice shines among a collection of essential jazz standards. Listeners will quickly realize that Joy’s voice is just as timeless as it is unique and belongs among the classic jazz vocalists of the past while also being recognized as an innovator in the present. Joy’s youthful voice echoes nostalgia, and she contributes her authenticity to her approach fused with jazz history and learning new standards. “I think maybe people connect with the fact that I’m not faking it—that I already feel embedded in it,” she says.
Joy began exploring jazz music at an early age as she grew up in the Bronx listening to the music of her parents’ childhood. Her performing roots also come from family, as her grandparents Elder Goldwire and Ruth McLendon, performed with the Philadelphia gospel group, The Savettes, and Joy’s father is a singer, songwriter, and producer who toured with gospel artist Andraé Crouch. Joy started singing in church, then with the jazz band at Fordham High School for the Arts, and eventually enrolled in SUNY Purchase’s jazz studies program, where she fell in love with the music.
Joy signed with Whirlwind Recordings, where she released her first self-titled album in 2021 after high school. In November 2022, the vocalist signed with Verve Records—the iconic record label that features an extensive catalog of jazz giants—and recorded her now Grammy Award-winning album, Linger Awhile.
Though Joy’s approach to her music carries knowledge and respect for the past, she also used the tools of her generation to capture the attention of a global audience. Joy used her talents and developed a following on TikTok, and her posts on social media grew exponentially before going viral and gaining millions of views.
Samara Joy is quickly establishing herself as one of the most exciting young talents in the world of jazz music. Whether you are a fan of jazz, soul, or simply a fan of music in general, her throwback voice and talent are undeniable. If her current trajectory is a preview of things to come, Seattle is in for a treat to witness a potential jazz legend in the making before she takes her place among the stars.