Henderson Honored For Jazz Excellence

Brittany Henderson, Benedictine Academy senior, with Governor’s Award in Arts Education for Excellence in Jazz, received May 10. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)

Brittany Henderson, Benedictine Academy senior, with Governor’s Award in Arts Education for Excellence in Jazz, received May 10. (Photo courtesy of Benedictine Academy)

ELIZABETH–Brittany Henderson, a senior at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth, was honored at the 32nd NJ Governor’s Awards in Arts Education ceremonies held in Trenton at Patriots Theatre at the War Memorial on Thursday, May 10. Henderson received the Governor’s Award in Arts Education for Excellence in Jazz. She was honored along with other outstanding students and educators in the state for their achievements in the arts.

Henderson was selected to receive the prestigious award by NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center). She has excelled in all of her performance education experiences there, including the Young Artist Institute, and, Wachovia Jazz for Teens. Because of her exceptional vocal talents, NJPAC has offered her the spotlight on various occasions. She was selected to sing as the opening act for the WBGO 2010 Champion of Jazz Benefit, joining a host of big name jazz artists on stage who were all there to honor other musical greats, including Herb Albert. She also performed vocals for NJPAC’s prelude series entertainment for South Pacific.

In 2011, Henderson was chosen as the recipient of the NJPAC-Wachovia Jazz for Teens (WJFT) Program’s fifth annual Groningen Award. Selected out of many students, she spent a week at the Prince Claus Conservatory in Groningen, Netherlands, studying music theory, vocalizing and improvising. Henderson, a Newark resident, has also performed at other venues around the state, including the Union County NJ Arts Program (2011).

“Brittany Henderson is being honored with the 2012 NJPAC Excellence in Jazz New Jersey Governor’s Award due to the fact that she is an exceptionally talented young vocalist with a bright and promising future,” Jeffrey Griglak, Director of Arts Training in the Arts Education Department at NJPAC commented. Roseanna Vitro, Vocal Jazz Instructor at NJPAC, has had high praise for Henderson’s talents. Vitro has described Henderson’s sound as “soulful, rooted in blues, gospel and R&B”. She feels Henderson has “developed the exciting element of jazz improvisation into her sound and style.” Henderson can “go anywhere” she chooses with her “talent and confidence”, according to Vitro.

Henderson reflected on her achievement in her usual unassuming manner. “When I heard that I had received the Governor’s Award I was excited and very humbled,” she commented. “I was extremely happy and proud. I would have never been able to receive the award without the support and love of the ones around me,” she added.

The Benedictine Academy senior has been accepted into Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. and will attend in the fall. She pursued her goals there last summer during a five-week long summer performance program. She is greatly anticipating her time at a college devoted to the study of music.

“Berklee was my number one choice,” she explained. “When I found out that I got in for the fall semester I was ecstatic. I hope to major in film scoring and minor in vocal jazz music for the fall of 2012,” she stated.

Henderson also developed her singing talents on campus during her four years at Benedictine Academy, providing vocals for numerous school events and projects. A member of the school’s Gospel Choir, Henderson was inspired to use her talents to write and record a song, “Stand Up for Love”. The song contained a message about taking a stand to help eradicate malaria, a preventable disease…a project in which her school became involved. Since the arts- creating, producing, and performing- are a daily occurrence at the Academy, Henderson enjoyed many opportunities to further develop her talents there also.

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