All things considered, growing up in a musical family should have meant that Samara Joy would grow up to pursue music as well.
And that’s what she did. The Bronx native has musical roots in Philadelphia thanks to her paternal grandparents, Elder Goldwire and Ruth McLendon, founders of the famous Philadelphia-based gospel group, The Savettes. Another inspiration came from his father, who toured with famous gospel artist Andrae Crouch.
“Growing up my house was always filled with music, from the sounds of songs from my father and grandparents to many gospel and R&B artists including Stevie Wonder, Kim Burrell, George Duke and many other stars of the world. ‘era.” she remembers.
And she continues like this, knowing that she always wanted to be a singer. Joy was first introduced to jazz while attending Fordham High School for the Arts, where she performed regularly with the jazz group and eventually won the award for best singer in an Essentially Ellington competition. .
“But jazz wasn’t my real focus until I went to college at SUNY Purchase and was accepted into their acclaimed jazz program, with a faculty that includes many jazz masters – like guitarist Pasquale Grasso and drummer Kenny Washington, ”she explains.
At university, the young singer admits that her love for jazz was sparked by her friends.
“They were all passionate about jazz and shared a lot of their recordings with me. But the turning point came when I listened to Sarah Vaughn’s version of ‘Lover Man.’ And then I got hooked,” Joy said.
Interestingly, Joy will be joining Grasso as the Annenberg Center’s Spring 2021 digital season kicks off her live performance on Thursday, February 4 at 7 p.m. ET.
Now at just 21 and still in college finishing her final year, Joy has accomplished a lot. Completing her self-titled debut album, she has already performed in many major New York jazz venues, including The Blue Note and Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola. She has also worked with some of jazz greats such as Christian McBride, Jon Faddis and Cyrus Chestnut to name a few.
Continuing her love of jazz with relentlessness and passion, she was named Ella Fitzgerald Scholar and, in 2019, won the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition.
“I would say that winning this competition has helped advance my career, only because people now attach it to my name and people seem in awe of it,” Joy says modestly.
For the future, she says she would like to perform on a much larger scale and maybe work in films, much like being the jazz singer in the background.
This singer says that one of her main challenges “is to make people understand what that (jazz) means. After all, jazz is really black American music. Jazz is part of black history and American history. It’s important music. It’s good music. And I hope I can pass it on when I play. “