Young Latvian Arta Jekabsone has won the Shure Montreux Jazz Festival Voice Competition. Angélique Kidjo was president of the jury. The other jurors were French composer and producer Jérôme Badini from Radio France, Joe Farmer, a journalist for Radio France International, Thomas Rees from magazine Jazzwise, Mike Novogratz, vice president of the Jazz Foundation of America and Wendy Oxenhorn, executive director of the Jazz Foundation of America and member of the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation’s board.
There was a very high standard of competition in the semi-finals. It was particularly difficult to choose between the finalists in this voice competition – they really captured the public’s imagination. The final ended with a capella improvisation.
Inspired by the quote “Love what you do and do what you love” (Ray Bradbury), Arta Jekabsone, who was born in Latvia, found fulfilment in singing. She also studied violin for nine years. Last year, she graduated from the popular Riga Choir Cathedral School, where she studied jazz. She now has a scholarship at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York, where her mentors include Janet Lawson, Kate Baker, Reggie Workman, La Tanya Hall, Cecil Bridgewater and Richard Boukas.
The second prize was won by Germany’s Eric Leuthäuser (left) and the third prize went to Fabio Giacalone (right) from Italy.
THE THREE TOP FINISHERS WILL PARTICIPATE IN THE THIRD MONTREUX JAZZ ACADEMY THIS FALL, FROM 18 TO 26 NOVEMBER 2016.