Grammy-winning jazz singer Samara Joy performs with her band : NPR

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Samara Joy accepts the Grammy Award for best new artist in Los Angeles on Feb. 5.

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


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Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


Samara Joy accepts the Grammy Award for best new artist in Los Angeles on Feb. 5.

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Samara Joy comes from a family of gospel singers and has been singing all her life. In her teens, she performed as a soloist in her church choir, but her career really launched in 2019, when, as a college student, she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition.

“I was definitely an imitator of Sarah Vaughan for a while,” Joy says. “Every time I listened to a recording of hers, there was something special about it. There was something different. … I subconsciously wanted to have a wide range like hers.”

Studying voice in college helped Joy better understand her own voice — and her own approach to songs. “I learned not only about the foundational things, but about phrasing and having control over my voice and not just looking at a song as just something to sing, but, like, actually delving into the story and the lyrics and utilizing whatever tools I have technique wise to, to bring the song to life.”

In February, Joy became the second jazz performer in Grammy history to win the award for best new artist. Her latest album, Linger Awhile, also won a Grammy for best jazz vocal recording.

Click the audio above to hear our full conversation with Joy and to hear her perform with her band.

SET LIST

  • “Can’t Get Out Of This Mood”
  • “Round Midnight”
  • “Social Call”
  • “Stardust”

MUSICIANS

  • Cameron Campbell: piano
  • Michael Migliore: bass
  • Evan Sherman: drums
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