2023 Award Winner: Tawanda
Tawanda Suessbrich-Joaquim, known as “Tawanda,” was a winner in the 2021 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and is considered a leader among the current crop of young jazz vocalists. Tawanda is a proud first-generation American with a German mother and a father from Mozambique. Growing up, she was exposed to an array of musical sounds: from Cuba, the South Pacific Islands, the Middle East, and France. As she found her own way as a singer, a sort of multi-genre fusion resulted. Her musical influences range from such international performers as Te Vaka, Sam Mangwana, Angéique Kidjo, Brenda Fassie, and Hugh Masekela to classic composers Vivaldi and Bach, intertwined with American pop favorites like Carole King and James Taylor. At Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Tawanda became an admirer of show tunes by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and Oscar Hammerstein, under the mentorship of vocalist Mirabai Daniels and saxophonist Horace Alexander Young. As a strong and powerful young Black woman, Tawanda honors the memory of such jazz greats as Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Anita O’Day.