Hitting the Right Notes

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Friday December 08, 2017

From The Advocate

Hitting the right notes: Baton Rouge singer Quiana Lynell’s star continues to shine
By: John Wirt

This year brought local jazz singer Quiana Lynell bountiful reasons to celebrate.

Chief among those recent accomplishments is her first-place win in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in November. Prizes included $5,000 and a recording contract with Concord Records. An LSU School of Music graduate from Cedar Hill, Texas, Lynell originally opted out of pursuing a music career. She worked in sales instead and started a family. Later, a co-worker, Janelle Brown, encouraged Lynell to perform again. Since that push, Lynell has performed with Brown’s zydeco/blues band, 2 Da T, as well as with the Michael Foster Project, Roderick Paulin and Don Vappie.

When did you learn about the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition?

About three years ago. I was waiting until I felt like I could maybe be a contender. This year, I was ready to give it a try.

How did you approach the competition finale?

I thought of it as just another performing arts center where I wanted to perform. Being picked to be a finalist already put me in a place where more people would know me. That was a testament that what I’ve been doing is working.

Your selections included ‘Hip Shakin’ Mama,’ a blues song identified with Irma Thomas. Was that bold of you, to sing blues at a jazz competition?

Very much so. But all of the great singers did blues songs. Jazz was birthed from the blues.

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