The Willamette Singers Earn Downbeat Again

willamette singers

For the third time at Willamette University, a choral group was recognized for their musical prowess by DownBeat magazine.

The magazine has released its 40th annual Student Music Awards in its June issue. In it, The Willamette Singers, a 17-member vocal jazz group, was named Best Large Undergraduate Vocal Jazz Ensemble.

The awards are given to students and student groups from middle schools, high schools and universities from around the world.

“DownBeat magazine is to the jazz world as Rolling Stone is to the popular music world,” says Wallace Long Jr., director of choral activities. “The next level up would be a Grammy. I don’t know of a more significant award for a vocal jazz ensemble or these performers.”

Audio submissions — judged blind by professional musicians and educators — were evaluated for such qualities as musicianship, creativity, improvisation and technique.

The Willamette Singers won for the music on its CD, “Green Garden.” 

In addition to the DownBeat awards, the Willamette Singers have received many honors during the 35 years Wallace Long has directed the group. Recognition has come in the form of honorific performances at regional and national conventions of the Oregon Music Educators Association, Music Educators National Conference, the American Choral Directors Association and the International Association of Jazz Educators.