Introducing: three-time Grammy award-winning jazz singer Samara Joy
Fri 9 Feb Article 2mins
With her GRAMMY-Award winning and chart-topping album, Linger Awhile, 23-year-old Samara Joy makes her case to join the likes of Sarah, Ella, and Billie as the next mononymous jazz singing sensation recorded by the venerable Verve Records.
Her voice, rich and velvety yet precociously refined, has already earned her fans like Anita Baker and Regina King and appearances on the TODAY Show, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, CBS Mornings, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, and more, in addition to millions of likes on TikTok—cementing her status as perhaps the first Gen Z jazz singing star.
Samara is still relatively new to jazz. Growing up in the Bronx, it was music of the past—the music of her parent’s childhoods, as she put it—that she listened to most. She treasures her musical lineage, which stretches back to her grandparents Elder Goldwire and Ruth McLendon, both of whom performed with Philadelphia gospel group the Savettes, and runs through her father, who is a singer, songwriter and producer who toured with gospel artist Andraé Crouch. “Sometimes I catch myself when I’m singing—I'm like, ‘Whoa, that was a dad moment’,” Samara quips.
Though she’s young, she relishes the process of digging through the music’s history.
“I think maybe people connect with the fact that I'm not faking it, that I already feel embedded in it,” Samara says. “Maybe I'm able to reach people in person and on social media because it's real.”
The gatekeepers of the jazz world tend to agree: in 2019, she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, and she’s since performed with legends like Christian McBride and Bill Charlap. Legendary late pianist Barry Harris was a particularly important influence and mentor. “You inspired me as well as many others with this fire for teaching and playing that couldn’t be dimmed by anything or anyone,” Samara writes in Linger Awhile’s liner notes, dedicating the project in part to Harris’ memory.
The release is just one more step for the ascendant, 3x GRAMMY-winning vocalist, who has been touring all over the world on increasingly larger stages—still shocked to be performing in front of thousands who hang on every word. “I'm still very much a student, even though I've graduated,” Samara says. “So this is only the beginning... there is much, much more to come.”