Award-winning saxophonist Jazmin Ghent heads to DC’s Blues Alley

When your name aligns with the genre of music you perform, perhaps a successful music career is meant to be.

Florida-based musician and NAACP Image Award winner Jazmin Ghent, who will play back-to-back jazz saxophone shows at Blues Alley in D.C. on June 4, said her parents discovered how much they adored the music early on.

“On their first date, they talked about their love for Jazz,” Ghent laughs. They said if they had children, they’d want to name one of them Jazmin. Ghent recalls the pair also had a plethora of jazz CDs that were part of her childhood soundtrack. “So I kind of feel destined to play Jazz,” Ghent said.

But her musicianship was born with another instrument. She started playing piano when she was in elementary school, but switched to saxophone in the sixth grade.

Two degrees, three Billboard-topping singles and many years later, Ghent’s project, “The Story of Jaz,” earned her the 2019 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. She learned of the win during this year’s Dave Koz Cruise in Australia, where she was a special guest performer.

“It’s funny, I didn’t think I would win the award, let alone be a nominee,” she said.

When Ghent won the award, she got a message of congratulations from Ben Tankard, a gospel-jazz pianist and friend who was nominated in the same category.

“I was absolutely shocked, so shocked … I’m beyond thankful and grateful.”

Ghent, who lives in Florida, balances life as a school music instructor. She said she is passionate about teaching and playing the saxophone.

“But there are moments where, [I’m] trying to drive to my classroom straight from the airport, and I’m taking my luggage in my classroom. Those are the challenging moments.”

Right now, she is able to balance both, “but if music really calls, I may have to make a decision.”

Jazmin Ghent performs at Blues Alley on June 4. Visit their website for more information.

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