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Artist on the Rise

A storyteller commands the Jefferson Center stage this fall!

Quiana Lynell emerged onto the jazz scene in 2017. In two short years, she has received the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition Award (2017), performed with award-winning trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard, and released her first album, A Little Love. An artist on-the-rise, Lynell has nursed her passion for music since childhood. Her blossoming career has gospel origins, and her love for music was solidified through a music education that began in public school. Over the years, she has learned the value of apprenticeship. Today, her experience fuses with talent and education to create a truly unforgettable performance.

Lynell has pursued her dreams with patience and dedication since her youth. She was the first in her family to graduate from college. She studied voice at Louisiana State University, and her education shed light on the structure behind the artistry of music. After graduation, she took a job with an AT&T call center. There, she met a friend who would later invite Lynell to sing with her blues and zydeco band. 

“I learned so much about the song form and entertainment and how to interact and take people on a journey,” she recalls. 

Lynell’s friend passed away four months later. Following her death, the band asked Lynell to become their new vocal leader. This opportunity allowed her to reshape her own journey. She began attending jam sessions. In 2011, she became a music teacher at a public school. In her spare time, she wrote, performed at gigs, and eventually accepted a position teaching voice as an adjunct professor at Loyola University.

Lynell had dreams of following in the footsteps of Dianne Reeves. She pursued those dreams fervently, formed a band, and continued studying and performing jazz. In 2017, she played at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with her trio. Her voice caught the attention of Terence Blanchard, and he invited her to perform with a 75-piece orchestra in their Poland tribute to Spike Lee. 

“Quiana Lynell is already a vocal presence,” says Blanchard. “When I first heard her sing, my initial thought was, ‘Who are you, where have you been, and why am I just hearing you now?’”

Lynell also took home the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition Award in 2017. This accomplishment opened the door for her first album, A Little Love. 

A Little Love is an impressive debut fusion of soul, gospel, r&b, jazz and groove. Its songs tell stories about searching, living through trying times, and social action. It reflects ideas that are important to Lynell, and speaks with an authenticity that delivers music to the listener’s spirit.

“I was always told that my intuition was leading me in the right direction,” explains Lynell. “This is like taking a picture of who I am today. There will be more pictures to come.”

Quiana Lynell will perform at Jefferson Center on Saturday, October 26 at 7pm and 9pm. This is a performance that you do not want to miss! For more information on Lynell and her work, visit www.quianalynell.com. Purchase tickets for her Jefferson Center performance at www.jeffcenter.org.


Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com