Samara Joy to headline 20th anniversary DC Jazz Festival this September

The DC Jazz Festival has announced headliners and other highlights for this coming September’s 20th-anniversary celebrations.

Samara Joy, the 24-year-old phenom whose deep voice and fabulous command of the standards earns her constant comparisons to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, will be the lead headliner for the festival’s programming at the Wharf. This comes as a follow up to the “best new artist” Grammy-winning vocalist’s performance at last year’s DCJF, where she held down a primetime slot on the main pier stage on Sunday evening.

The DCJF’s other big-name draws this September will include a trio of NEA Jazz Masters: pioneering fusion bassist Stanley Clarke, piano legend Kenny Barron and the celebrated vocalist Dianne Reeves. Among other significant jazz masters invited to the party are the saxophonist David Murray and guitar maestro Bill Frisell, both of whom are performing at the festival for the first time (CapitalBop co-founder Luke Stewart is a regular member of Murray’s new quartet). Additionally, celebrated avant-garde pianist Kris Davis will be bringing her landmark Diatom Ribbons project to the festival.

“The goal is always to develop a festival lineup that is reflective of both the classic & contemporary sides of the music from stylistic perspectives,” Willard Jenkins, the festival’s artistic director, told CapitalBop. Jenkins, himself a forthcoming NEA Jazz Master, noted how this goal pushes the festival’s curation toward “a representative sampling of emerging artists and those new to performing in our community, along with our major responsibility of reflecting jazz here in the DMV with some of our finest resident artists.”

On the local side, bassist Corcoran Holt is beginning a two-year term as one of the festival’s two artists-in-residence, along with bass legend Ron Carter. Alongside Holt, some of the other top bandleaders on the D.C. jazz scene have prominent billing in the initial lineup, including spiritual-jazz elder and drummer Nasar Abadey’s signature Supernova band, a celebration of the 25th anniversary of veteran hard bop trumpeter Michael Thomas’s quartet, and a trio from pianist, vocalist and organizer Amy K. Bormet. 

Jenkins also told CapitalBop that the festival will expand its indoor offerings during the concentrated, weekend programming at the Wharf with expanded line-ups at nearby Union Stage and Arena Stage, both within close walking distance of the Wharf.



About Jackson Sinnenberg

view all posts

Jackson Sinnenberg is a broadcast journalist and a freelance writer. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, JazzTimes, Downbeat, NPR Music,, the Washington City Paper, On Tap/District Fray Magazine and the blog of Smithsonian Folkways Records. He began covering the city’s music scene for WGTB, Georgetown University’s radio station, where he was a show host, writer, and columnist. He graduated from Georgetown with a bachelor’s degree in American Musical Culture. Reach him at [email protected]. Follow him at @sinnenbergmusic.

You May Like This