National magazine names CHS junior ‘Outstanding Jazz Vocalist of the Year’


Emma Hedrick fell in love with jazz music when she was only 11 years old.

Little did she know that one day she’d be named “Outstanding Vocal Jazz Soloist” in the student division by DownBeat Magazine, a national magazine that focuses on jazz.

Emma Hedrick has been named the ‘Outstanding Vocal Jazz Solist’ by Downbeat Magazine. (Submitted photo)

“Downbeat magazine is so influential in the jazz world, and I am extremely honored to have received this award,” she said.

Hedrick, now a 17-year-old junior at Carmel High School, found her interest in jazz by singing Duke Ellington standards as part of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and decided she wanted to learn more about singing jazz music. She delved into Cecile McLorin Salvant, Thelonious Monk, Count Basie and, of course, Ella Fitzgerald, her biggest musical influence.

“I started listening to her when I was first learning jazz, and her music is still just as exciting to me,” Hedrick said. “Her musicality and interpretation is unparalleled, and her career spanned decades, so there is still much for me to learn.”

Hedrick started competing in solo jazz performances, and in 2012 and 2014 she was a finalist at “CarmelFest Has Talent.” At age 12, she was invited to perform on Cole Porter’s piano for his family.  In 2014,  she was — at age 14 — the youngest artist at Carmel’s Porchfest.

Hedrick started her own band, The Main Street Jazz Band, at age 14. She’s not only the lead singer and keyboard player, but she’s the band leader. She books shows, promotes the band, arranges songs and schedules lineups. The Main Street Jazz Band is a mainstay of Gallery Walks in the Carmel Arts & Design District.

“Leading a band comes with its own unique challenges,” she said. “I have found it difficult to be confident and in control of everyone and their busy schedules, but I have definitely gained a lot of valuable experience by directing the combo.”

Hedrick is a member of the honors Carmel High School Jazz Band, and she is taking private lessons at Butler University, voice with Erin Benedict and piano with Gary Walters. She regularly performs at The Jazz Kitchen and at Indy Jazzfest. She’s a member of the Butler University Jordan Jazz Choir, a collegiate choir directed by Benedict.

Hedrick plans to study vocal jazz performance in college and wants to pursue jazz performance and teaching as a career.

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