New Music USA Partners with Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice to launch new program NEXT JAZZ LEGACY for a more inclusive jazz future

Written By

Alanna Maharajh Stone

Three-year Program – with Major Funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation – Will Increase Opportunities for Women and Non-binary Musicians Through Apprenticeship, Financial Support and Promotion

NEA Jazz Master Terri Lyne Carrington Leads the Program as Artistic Director with a Stellar Advisory Board Including Award-winning Artists Sean Jones and Kris Davis and Representatives from NPR, WBGO, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, New York Winter Jazz Festival and more

Currently Accepting Candidate Submissions Through November 29 HERE

New Music USA and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice have announced the launch of Next Jazz Legacy, a new program focused on increasing opportunities for women and non-binary improvisers who are underrepresented in the art form. According to a study of the NPR Music Jazz Critics poll, women made up only 16% of the core band personnel for the albums in the 2019 poll, and the majority of jazz albums ranked included no women musicians at all. Next Jazz Legacy will address these statistics by supporting early-career-stage artists whose access to resources has been limited. By offering creative and professional experience through long-term apprenticeships, financial support and promotion, Next Jazz Legacy aims to inspire change that will benefit everyone in the jazz community. Thanks to funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this program represents a major investment in 20 artists and band leaders over the next 3 years.

The inaugural class of Next Jazz Legacy artists will include six candidates chosen by an esteemed panel of musicians, chaired by Carrington, with gender justice and racial justice as guiding principles. The overall direction of the program is being shaped by New Music USA and Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, with guidance from the advisory board, and in alignment with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s current priorities and values.

The program launched today and is accepting submissions HERE through November 29. Candidates must be U.S. residents, fully vaccinated, and not enrolled in an academic institution during the duration of the program from January 2022 to December 2022 or contracted with a third party recording company. Selected artists will be announced in January 2022.

“Next Jazz Legacy amplifies and addresses the need for all musicians, practitioners, and professionals in jazz to contribute to a more equitable jazz future,” says Terri Lyne Carrington, who is also the founder of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. “The people that have benefited the most from long established systems of oppression in our field are precisely the ones that need to help with addressing the problem. Otherwise, they are modeling, and at times even teaching, how to replicate those systems.”

Vanessa Reed, President and CEO of New Music USA, added, “Over 50% of New Music USA’s annual grant funds go to women and non-binary artists. However, we know that some of the inequities in our community can’t be resolved with grant funding alone. Next Jazz Legacy addresses this by providing experience on the road, promotion and opportunities for participants to learn and grow with other artists at similar stages in their career. I’m excited to see who applies for this opportunity which is open to improvisers from across the country. I’m also looking forward to seeing, over time, how Next Jazz Legacy becomes a trusted resource for anyone programming the best of our next generation’s talent.”

Bandleader, educator and composer Sean Jones, who is a member of the Next Jazz Legacy Advisory Board says, “For decades, gross inequities around gender diversity, specifically in the types of roles women and non-binary musicians play in jazz have caused these individuals to not have the same opportunities and to feel isolated, often discredited and disconnected from the overall community in jazz. Next Jazz Legacy program is here to not only address those concerns, but to get to the heart of these issues by providing solutions.”

L: Terri Lyne Carrington (credit Delphine Diallo); R: Vanessa Reed (top, credit Ruth Kilpatrick), Sean Jones (bottom)

Each Next Jazz Legacy artist will benefit from a comprehensive package designed to have a deep and lasting career impact, including a $10,000 grant, a one-year performance apprenticeship, a two-way mentorship program pairing them with artistic and business professionals, peer-learning cohorts led by Carrington, online learning courses from Berklee, and a variety of promotional opportunities, from a podcast series and NJL artist playlists developed with media partners, to live showcases with national presenters and more.

New Music USA and Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its generous support of this national program and to NJL donors, Joseph A and Nancy Meli Walker.

The Next Jazz Legacy Advisory Board includes: Terri Lyne Carrington (Chair), Artistic Director, BIJGJ; Gabrielle Armand, Jazz at Lincoln Center; Darlene Chan FestivalWest, Inc.; Sarah Elizabeth Charles, vocalist and educator; Kris Davis, pianist & composer/associate, Director at BIJGJ; Simone Ecclestone, The Kennedy Center; Monica Haslip, Little Black Pearl Art and Design Academy; Sean Jones, trumpeter, bandleader, composer and educator; Suraya Mohamed, Producer at NPR; Brice Rosenbloom, New York Winter Jazz Festival; Angelica Sanchez, jazz pianist & composer; Aja Burrell Wood, Managing Director at BIJGJ.

Visit the Next Jazz Legacy program and application page here.



New Music USA supports the sounds of tomorrow by nurturing the creation, performance, and appreciation of new music for adventurous listeners around the world. We empower and connect US-based music makers, organizations, and audiences by providing funding; fostering new connections; deepening knowledge and working as an advocate for the field. New Music USA works in collaboration with its community in response to pressing needs and to amplify the diverse voices of music creators. New Music USA envisions a thriving and equitable ecosystem for new music.


The Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice’s mission is to recruit, teach, mentor, and advocate for young musicians desiring to study jazz in a safe, egalitarian and nurturing environment, with gender justice and racial justice as guiding principles. We share in the collective work to challenge systemic forms of oppression embedded in the art form. We believe a cultural transformation is needed and that the music itself will not reach its full potential until these issues are meaningfully addressed.


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