Jessie J headlines next Sing Jazz

(From left to right) Nicki Minaj, Jessie J. and Ariana Grande perform "Bang Bang" during the 42nd American Music Awards in Los Angeles.

British pop singer Jessie J, who is behind the hit pop ditty Price Tag, will be headlining next year's Singapore International Jazz Festival.

On the unlikely choice of the headliner act, the festival's artistic director David Lyndon Smith says: "She is a pop singer in terms of label and album. But all pop music is inspired by jazz. She will explain what jazz means to her."

The singer, whose real name is Jessica Ellen Cornish, has snagged a 2015 Grammy nomination for Best Group Performance for the catchy tune Bang Bang, performed together with singers Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj.

"By having a popular artist like Jessie J, we hope to bring in a new demographic of audience, who may not have the chance to listen to pure jazz," adds Mr Smith, who is also the co-founder of Orbis Festival Productions, organiser of the jazz festival.

He was speaking at yesterday's press conference to give the media a glimpse into next year's festival programme.

Called Sing Jazz for short, it is back for a second edition from March 5 to 8 at Marina Bay Sands.

The four-day event will feature more than 250 artists with acclaimed acts such as 10-time Grammy winner and American vocalist Bobby McFerrin and Grammy Awardwinning American trumpeter Chris Botti.

Singapore's jazz scene will be represented by home-grown talents such as jazz stalwart Jeremy Monteiro and soul-jazz quintet The Steve McQueens.

Home-grown talents will also be mentored by international artists in music workshops, as part of the festival's bid to nurture local musicians.

Plans are also in the pipeline for the international and local talents to perform together onstage.

This will be the second time The Steve McQueens will be performing at the jazz festival.

At this year's inaugural festival in February, they attended a music workshop conducted by British acid-jazz stalwart Jean-Paul Maunick, better known as Bluey.

The Steve McQueens went on to record their upcoming album in London with Bluey in August. The jazz band's singer Eugenia Yip, 26, says: "We were in London for 14 days, so many wonderful things happened. To put it in a simple, digestible nutshell, Bluey has recording experience of 30 years.

"Being able to be in that moment, we get to listen to his experiences and to have his input to shape the entire record was a very liberating process."

They will be showcasing new material for their album Sea Monster, which is scheduled for release at the festival next year.

Their recording project is funded and arranged by the Foundation for the Arts & Social Enterprise, headed by Mr Michael Tay, who is co-founder of Sing Jazz.

Calling The Steve McQueens one of the early success stories of the foundation, he says: "We have great musicians in Singapore, especially our jazz musicians.

They all suffer the same issues of being local, where it's (almost) impossible to get on the global stage.

"We were able to send The Steve McQueens to record with Bluey, and I think that was an amazing experience for them. When they were there, I told them to send daily updates, and all I got were smiley photos. That kind of excitement cannot be bought with money, but you need money and funding and support to get them there."

This article was first published on December 17, 2014.
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