Griffith jazz singers shortlisted for national scholarship

Queensland Conservatorium jazz vocalists Adelina Martinez and Merinda Dias-Jayasinha are among six singers in Australia shortlisted for the prestigious Generations in Jazz vocal scholarship.

The scholarship is part of the annual Generations in Jazz Festival, founded by Australian jazz legend James Morrison in 1982.

Previous winners of the vocal scholarship have included a number of Queensland Conservatorium alumni, including Megan Washington, Elly Hoyt and Kayleigh Pincott.

Adelina said making it into the finals alongside her friend Merinda was “one of the best days of my life”.

“It’s so exciting – I had to convince myself it wasn’t a dream!” she said.

“Getting into the finals is a big personal win and validation that I’m headed in the right direction.”

“Merinda and I started in the same year and she is one of my best friends.

“Neither of us are focused on the competition – jazz is so collaborative and it will be a great chance to immerse myself in the music and meet other like-minded souls.

“I can’t wait to perform under thehuge festival tent to thousands of people- it’s so different to small, jazz clubs where I usually perform!”

Adelina had to fight to study music – initially facing resistance from her parents.

“When I was 15, I secretly got a part-time job to pay for singing lessons – this went on for almost 18 months before my Mum found out!

“My singing teacher encouraged me to apply for the Con – I didn’t even know what it was back then!

“I didn’t come from a musical background, my parents were immigrants from Uruguay where there is real economic hardship and people don’t place a huge value on the arts.

“My Mum is a scientist and she just didn’t get it.

“She’s come around now – she realises now that there are heaps of opportunities if you rise to the challenge.

“There is such a world of opportunity out there – I’m a student, a music teacher, a performer, a conductor.”

Merinda was shortlisted for the vocal scholarship last year, and is thrilled to be heading back down to Mt Gambier for the Generations in Jazz Festival, which attracts the world’s top jazz performers and thousands of aspiring jazz musicians.

“It’s a chance to see a super bunch of musicians and make some great music,” she said.

“It’s an experience like no other.”

Both singers are taught by the Con’s legendary vocal coach and senior lecturer Dr Irene Bartlett, who has mentored everyone from Dami Im to Katie Noonan.

“We’ve had great success at the Generations in Jazz Festival over the years,” she said.

“To get one singer in the finals of a national competition like this is amazing, but to have two is a real coup and it’s a tribute to the talent we have here at the Con.

“You don’t need to be part of the jazz scene in Sydney or Melbourne to make it in the industry – our achievements speak for themselves.”

Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison said the Queensland Conservatorium’s jazz program was recognised as one of the best in Australia, with graduates going on to enjoy success on the national and international stage.

“We have produced many remarkable vocalists who had transformed the Australian music scene — from Dami Im to Katie Noonan and Megan Washington,” he said.

“Adelina and Merinda are part of the next generation of talented students making their mark in the industry.

“We remain the dream destination for aspiring young musicians from around the world — this has been confirmed by our position among the top 50 performing arts programs in the world, and our recent ranking as the country’s leading creative arts school.

The Generations in Jazz Festival takes place from 4 – 6 May in Mt Gambier, South Australia.