Jenna Scandalios: M-A student is award winning jazz singer

by Linda Hubbard on January 22, 2011

Jenna Scandalios got the jazz bug early in life. “I started singing in the school chorus in sixth grade,” says the now sophomore in high school. “My teachers at Corte Madera School introduced me to jazz.”

Next week she’ll be recognized by the Peninsula Arts Council as a recipient of the Ray Lorenzato Young Artist Award. “I don’t know if I’m singing [at the awards banquet] or not,” she says. “But I do know it will be my first speech!”

Jenna participates in Advanced Jazz Band at Menlo-Atherton High School, a school, she says, she’s wanted to go to since first grade. “My dad went there and he told me about the jazz band and Frank Moura [who retired last year]. I had to get a district transfer, and I’m really, really happy I got in.”

M-A’s jazz program is now overseen by Kent Kurrus. “He’s been helping me with jazz theory, giving me lots of tips and advice,” she says.

The Advanced Jazz Band, which includes about 30 students, plays at jazz festivals and neighborhood block parties. Their next performance will be the Spring Concert at the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center. “I love going to the festivals,” says Jenna. “Traveling with the band is so much fun and I enjoy singing in front of an audience.”

The young vocalist lists Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Sarah Vaughn as her favorite jazz singers with a nod to two current performers, Michael Bublé and Jane Monteith. And while she likes singing swing, she finds singing a ballad – really getting into both the music and lyrics – very fulfilling.

Jenna is just starting to think about college. “I definitely want to pursue music,” she says. “But I’m also interested in business and economics, so I’m researching where I could get all three.”

She can already list “award winner” on her application, the first of what may well be many recognitions. The Peninsula Arts Council awards dinner, which is open to the public,  is Thursday, January 27. More information can be found here.

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