New Music USA and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice have announced the launch of Next Jazz Legacy, a new program focused on increasing opportunities for women and non-binary improvisers who are underrepresented in the art form. According to a study of the NPR Music Jazz Critics poll, women made up only 16% of the core band personnel for the albums in the 2019 poll, and the majority of jazz albums ranked included no women musicians at all. Next Jazz Legacy will address these statistics by supporting early-career-stage artists whose access to resources has been limited. By offering creative and professional experience through long-term apprenticeships, financial support and promotion, Next Jazz Legacy aims to inspire change that will benefit everyone in the jazz community. Thanks to funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this program represents a major investment in 20 artists and band leaders over the next 3 years.
The inaugural class of Next Jazz Legacy artists will include six candidates chosen by an esteemed panel of musicians, chaired by Carrington, with gender justice and racial justice as guiding principles. The overall direction of the program is being shaped by New Music USA and Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, with guidance from the advisory board, and in alignment with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s current priorities and values.
The program launched Monday and is accepting submissions HERE through November 29. Candidates must be U.S. residents, fully vaccinated, and not enrolled in an academic institution during the duration of the program or contracted with a third party recording company. Selected artists will be announced in January 2022.
“Next Jazz Legacy amplifies and addresses the need for all musicians, practitioners, and professionals in jazz to contribute to a more equitable jazz future,” says Terri Lyne Carrington, who is also the founder of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. “The people that have benefited the most from long established systems of oppression in our field are precisely the ones that need to help with addressing the problem. Otherwise, they are modeling, and at times even teaching, how to replicate those systems.”
Vanessa Reed, President and CEO of New Music USA, added, “Over 50% of New Music USA’s annual grant funds go to women and non-binary artists. However, we know that some of the inequities in our community can’t be resolved with grant funding alone. Next Jazz Legacy addresses this by providing experience on the road, promotion and opportunities for participants to learn and grow with other artists at similar stages in their career. I’m excited to see who applies for this opportunity which is open to improvisers from across the country. I’m also looking forward to seeing, over time, how Next Jazz Legacy becomes a trusted resource for anyone programming the best of our next generation’s talent.”
Bandleader, educator and composer Sean Jones, who is a member of the Next Jazz Legacy Advisory Board says, “For decades, gross inequities around gender diversity, specifically in the types of roles women and non-binary musicians play in jazz have caused these individuals to not have the same opportunities and to feel isolated, often discredited and disconnected from the overall community in jazz. Next Jazz Legacy program is here to not only address those concerns, but to get to the heart of these issues by providing solutions.”
Each Next Jazz Legacy artist will benefit from a comprehensive package designed to have a deep and lasting career impact, including a $10,000 grant, a one-year performance apprenticeship, a two-track mutual mentorship program pairing them with artistic and business professionals, peer-learning cohorts led by Carrington, online learning courses from Berklee, and a variety of promotional opportunities, from a podcast series and NJL artist playlists developed with media partners, to live showcases with national presenters and more.