Sponsor spotlight: Ten years later, Edmonds Jazz Connection alum sings event’s praises

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The Edmonds Daybreakers Rotary is gearing up for the 15th annual Edmonds Jazz Connection next Saturday, May 23 at three venues in downtown Edmonds — The Masonic Hall, Edmonds Conference Center and Edmonds Theater — where award–winning high school jazz programs from throughout the Pacific Northwest will perform.

Jazz Connection alum Leah Tussing, a Meadowdale High School graduate, says her time performing at the Edmonds festival — both in middle school and high school — inspired her to pursue a musical career. She is now both as a performer and band manager with the Rafael Tranquilino Band (see her performance in the video above) and a co-owner of music production company Flat Hat Productions.

Leah Tussing
Leah Tussing

“The Edmonds Jazz Connection is special to me,” Tussing said. “I am so grateful to have studied under such amazing instructors as Kathy Miller and Kathy Moore. They opened my eyes to the beauty and freedom in jazz. The Edmonds Jazz Connection gave me my first encounters with what a vibrant music community can and should look like. Local artists, national artists, local businesses, organizations, and mentors working together with students of all ages to keep the music alive.”

Tussing is a dynamic and diverse vocalist who draws from a combination of jazz harmony, gospel soul and rock n’ roll grit. She believes that “a vocalist’s job is to translate what the musicians are trying to communicate to the audience: to be a mediator, not just sing.” As of late, this philosophy has guided her to fall in love with the blues. She said she sees the blues as the perfect mix of simplicity, honesty and raw emotion that lends itself to be a universal language.

All Edmonds Jazz Connection Big Band, Choral and Combo performances will be free and open to the public this Saturday. The club will be accepting donations both at the event and online to support educational and scholarship programs. All proceeds from this year’s event will go toward:

– Expanding scholarships for student musicians continuing their education at college, university or trade school.
– Establishing quarterly Pro-Am clinics for students to work directly with professional musicians on development of improvisational performing skills.
– Awarding block grants to schools for enhancing musical study and increasing accessibility to musical programs.

More than $25,000 in scholarships and grants will be awarded during this year’s program. You can contribute online at donations.jazzconnection.org. More information can be found on the Jazz Connection website and Facebook page.

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