Born: March 21 Primary Instrument: Vocal
DARDEN PURCELL is a Washington D.C. based jazz vocalist. A multi-faceted musician, Ms. Purcell is an active featured soloist with big bands and small ensembles, band leader and vocal instructor. Ms. Purcell has collaborated with many of the world's top jazz artists including Jim Pugh, Chip McNeill, Dana Hall, Don Heitler, Glenn Wilson, Chip Stephens, Jeff Helgesen, Joan Hickey, Larry Gray, Dennis Carroll, Stockton Helbing, Joel Spencer, Darmon Meader, Lisanne Lyons, Dave Detwiler, Chris Vadala, Jim Carroll, The Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra and The Airmen of Note, performing at concert halls and clubs throughout the nation, including the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Pops for Champagne (Chicago), The Jazz Kitchen (Indianapolis), The Blue Wisp (Cincinnati) and The Kennedy Center (back-up vocals for Mr. George Benson). Dr. Purcell is currently the Director of Jazz Studies and Instructor of Jazz Voice at George Mason University. Jazz Voice.
Ms. Purcell is a former Washington DC Air Force Band vocalist, winning a slot in the pop/rock group High Flight. With High Flight she performed nationally (US Capitol, Pentagon, Air and Space Museum, DAR and Constitution Hall), as well as internationally, (Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Oman and Qatar) and can beheard as a soloist and back-up vocalist on High Flight’s CD, Highlights. A highpoint of Purcell’s Air Force career was touring with the elite jazz band, The Airmen of Note. Purcell was the featured vocalist, touring throughout California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada, as well as performing alongside gospel star BeBeWinans and Lari White for “Operation Desert Greetings,” entertaining troops in Germany, Italy, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain. In addition to being a featured soloist, Ms. Purcell performed back-up vocals, as part of the USAF Band Guest Artist Series, for nationally renowned recording artists, Chaka Khan, Bryan White, Janie Frickie, Freda Payne, Sherrie Payne, Gloria Loring, Melba Moore and Rita Coolidge as well as a nationally televised performance behind Darlene Love on The Late Show with David Letterman.”
In addition to her active performing schedule, Dr. Purcell is a sought-after jazz vocal educator and clinician. For three years, Dr. Purcell was the jazz voice teacher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and founder/director of the University of Illinois Jazz Vocal Ensemble. Under her leadership, this ensemble was invited to perform at the New York Voices Jazz Festival in Chicago, Western Michigan’s Gold Company Jazz Vocal Invitational in Kalamazoo and the 2012 Jazz Education Network (JEN) conference in Louisville, KY. Ms. Purcell has served on the faculty of the W.O. Smith Music School summer music camp (2007 – 2011) as well as the jazz faculty for the Illinois Summer Youth Music (2009, 2011). Her students have won “Outstanding soloist” awards at collegiate festivals as well as Downbeat Student Music Awards.
Dr. Purcell received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Vocal Jazz Performance at Virginia Tech, a Master of Music in Jazz Performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Performance also at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was awarded a University Fellowship.
November 2009, Ms. Purcell released her debut CD, Easy Living, on Dallas based record label, Armored Records. Easy Living was produced and features Grammy Award-winning saxophonist, Chip McNeill as well as Shawn Purcell (guitar), Chip Stephens (piano), Dennis Carroll (bass) and Stockton Helbing (drums). Easy Living has received national airplay, and continues to be a top seller on CDBaby in the “Jazz,” “Jazz Vocals” and “Vocalese” categories. CDBaby voted Easy Living the Jazz Vocal Pick for September 2010. Easy Living can be purchased at Amazon, CDBaby and iTunes.
Darden's time has come...a remarkable first recording from a singer of incomparable talent and depth...partnered with some of the finest jazz musicians anywhere. In a CD filled with interesting twists and turns and great songs, the treatment of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow alone is worth the price of admission. ~ Trombonist, Jim Pugh
The first thing you’ll notice about Darden Purcell when you listen to her new album Easy Living is the gorgeous timbre of her voice and the precision of her diction and time feel. She’s obviously a top-notch vocalist and her band includes some terrific performers. Saxophonist Chip McNeill is something of a hero among inner circles of jazz musicians and the harmonic substitutions he employs in some of his solos make for interesting listening. Shawn Purcell, while not as well-known to me, is highly skilled and very swinging guitar soloist. While all of the tunes were performed well, the pieces that stood out to my ears were the ballad performances, particularly Alice in Wonderland and You Don’t Know What Love Is. I would recommend the album and I plan on adding it to the queue of new recordings that I feature on my radio program. ~ Peter Solomon, WCVE-FM, Richmond, VA
This new CD by Darden Purcell is the real deal. Her take on familiar standards like Love for Sale and Get Happy is bold and fresh, and she brings an easy, innate sense to swing to every track. She is one jazz singer worthy of the name! ~ Bob Bernotas, host of “Just Jazz” www.wnti.org
I go to L.A. Jazz Institute Fests, I go to Chicago Jazz Fest, and I travel to others around the U.S, and your band and singing topped singers I have heard at these events, in other words to my ears your simply the best I've heard. Top Jazz Vocalist on my list. Please keep on swingin. ~ Harry Condon
Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
Assistant Jazz Director, Instructor of Jazz Voice George Mason University School of Music - Jazz Studies 4400 University Drive, MS 3E3 Fairfax, VA 22153 www.music.gmu.edu Instructor of Jazz Voice, director of the Mason Jazz Vocal Combo and Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble (Fall 2013).