Alyssa Allgood has been a jazz music lover, composer and performer for more than 10 years, and she’s not even 25. Now, this young musician can also add national award winner to her long list of accolades.
Allgood, a Forest Park resident and senior at North Central College in Naperville, recently won DownBeat Magazine’s national Student Music Award for best collegiate jazz vocal soloist.
DownBeat, a monthly American magazine tailored towards jazz and blues music news and reviews, has held its Student Music Awards for 37 years. The awards are considered among the highest student music competitions in the world, with entry categories available for junior high school, high school and university music students and their bands. This year’s awards were announced in the magazine’s June edition, which was released in late April.
Allgood learned about the opportunity to enter DownBeat’s contest from reading the magazine herself. She has been a subscriber for many years and has always been interested in entering her own submission for one of their contests.
“The magazine is sort of the magazine for the jazz genre,” Allgood said. “It’s very famous; very well known. It’s been around for a long time.”
Allgood’s interest in jazz music began at a young age listening to blues music with her father.
“My dad is a very big blues fan, so I grew up listening to a lot of blues music when I was younger, which is not the same as jazz but is very similarly related,” she said.
Allgood first began performing jazz music when she began singing with her junior high school’s band. It was there that she fell in love with the genre, and at age 12, started attending the Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp at North Central College, her soon-to-be alma mater. The camp features mentors who are internationally recognized jazz singers and musicians.
“I went there every summer and that was a really eye-opening experience for me,” Allgood explained. “I really felt a strong connection to the music and after that, I just wanted to learn more about it.”
For DownBeat’s student music contest, Allgood had to submit an audition CD with up to 10 minutes of whatever content of her choosing.
“It’s really up to each artist to decide what they want to put out there,” she said. “I decided on two songs that I had familiarity performing; things I felt really connected to [and] I had original arrangements to as well.”
Allgood recorded “You Stepped Out of a Dream,” which is a popular jazz standard as well as the jazz song “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” She recorded her demo CD in December of 2013 with Steve Yates, a music engineer based in Morton Grove who has 30 years of jazz and acoustic music recording experience throughout the Chicago area. Allgood then submitted her contest entry online to DownBeat.
At North Central College, Allgood has majored in music with a concentration in jazz studies and organizational communication. In her spare time, she performs at various jazz clubs and restaurants throughout the suburbs.
Upon her graduation in June, Allgood plans to move back home with her family and hopes to continue performing and possibly do some private teaching lessons.
“I think my goal for the long term is to be a professional musician, which to me just means like performing and writing my own music.”
As of now, Allgood does not have any immediate plans for performance in the Forest Park area but is hoping to have a few gigs this summer.
“There’s a few places I have my eye on that I know have live music, so I’m going to be contacting them pretty soon. I’d like to get some things set up in the area.”
For samples of Allgood’s music, links to her social media sites and information on how to book a performance, visit alyssaallgood.com.