Lena Seikaly is a fresh voice on the national jazz scene from Washington, D.C. Named “one of Washington’s preeminent jazz singers” and “brightest voices in jazz” (The Washington Post), as well as a “major league young talent in jazz” by Duke Ellington’s biographer, Dr. John Hasse, Lena is already making her mark as both a revivalist of traditional jazz vocals, as well as an innovator in contemporary vocal jazz styles. Most recently, she was one of eleven semi-finalists for the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Vocals Competition. As the leader of her own trio, quartet and quintet, Lena has performed to sold-out crowds at such legendary D.C. institutions as Blues Alley, the Strathmore Mansion, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, the Carlyle Club, the Hamilton, AMP by Strathmore, the National Portrait Gallery, various embassies, and at festivals across the U.S. (including the Elkhart Jazz Festival and Mel Bay Jazz Festival) and in Holland, Switzerland, France. She was a Strathmore Artist-In-Residence in 2009, and is an alum of the prestigious Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency in Washington, D.C. and Jazz Aspen Snowmass program in Aspen, CO, directed by Christian McBride.
Lena has self-produced three albums – Written In The Stars (2009), Lovely Changes (2011) and Looking Back (2013) – the latter two of which were released to sold-out shows at Blues Alley. All three received critical acclaim from music critics in leading D.C. online and print publications, garnering full-page, in-depth feature articles in the Washington Post and the Washington City Paper. Lovely Changes earned her the titles of D.C.’s “Best Vocalist” and “Best Composer” for 2011 by the Washington City Paper, while Looking Back was dubbed “the work of a supremely confident master of her instrument” by the same publication. Looking Back features all music from the 1920s and ‘30s, and pays tribute to three of Lena’s primary vocal influences — Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. All three albums can be heard frequently on D.C.’s jazz radio station, WPFW 89.3.
Also an avid educator, Lena has worked as a private teacher of jazz and classical voice, beginning piano and guitar in the D.C. area for over 10 years, was the vocal jazz instructor at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts during the 2008-09 school year, and has led jazz vocal workshops for adults at the Strathmore Music Center since 2010.