1 August 2021

Samara Joy Interview

Vocalist Samara Joy won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2019 and recently released her self-titled debut album. Here she answers questions put to her by Charlie Anderson.

What did you find the most rewarding when you studied for your degree in Jazz Studies at Purchase College?

I started at Purchase without a clue and graduated with, not only a more mature sense of musicianship, but with irreplaceable connections to faculty and friends that I believe will endure forever. The community I gained was what I found the most rewarding, overall.

What difference has winning the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition made to you?

Winning the competition caused everything to progress a little quicker, as far as opportunities were concerned. Of course, the pandemic put a halt to everything only a few months after but I would say it worked out for the good and I’m so grateful for the experience of participating in a competition for the first time and winning in the name of one of my biggest inspirations.

How was the experience of making your debut album?

It was nerve wracking at first. I remember getting to the space for the very first full band rehearsal and being so nervous that I wanted to get right back on the train home. But everything came together so smoothly and I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment, from rehearsals to the studio.

There are a number of standards on the album, including ones made famous by Sarah Vaughan. Which tracks are your favourites?

My favorite tracks would have to be It Only Happens Once, If You’d Stay the Way I Dream, and Everything Happens to Me.

What process do you go through when you prepare a piece?

Listen to different versions, write out the words, read them out loud, and then sing it through a few times.

Sometimes I’ll be humming the song on the bus or train and an idea will come for a particular section that I try to record on my phone immediately so I don’t forget. Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t but the idea is to keep the songs in my ear and live with them until they essentially become a part of me.

What plans do you have for the future?

I have a few ideas that I want to keep under wraps for now but I plan to keep developing my voice and gradually build musical relationships within the community so I can continue to grow and learn from my peers as well.


Her album is available on Bandcamp

Photo by Shervin Lainez.

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