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Darden Purcell

DARDEN PURCELL, a Washington D.C. based jazz vocalist, is an active featured soloist with symphony orchestras, big bands and small ensembles, band leader and vocal instructor. Ms. Purcell has shared the stage with many top jazz artists including Maria Schneider, Eric Alexander, Terell Stafford, Jim Pugh, Chip McNeill, Chuchito Valdes, Dana Hall, Alan Baylock, Glenn Wilson, Chip Stephens, Stockton Helbing, Byron Stripling, Bobby Floyd, Joel Spencer, Darmon Meader, Lisanne Lyons, Jim Carroll, Charlie Young, Chris Vadala, Shawn Purcell, Matt Niess, Dave Detwiler, Joe McCarthy, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, US Navy Commodores, Naval Academy Big Band, Next Wave, The Airmen of Note, US Army Blues and the American Festival Pops Orchestra (Tony Maiello) performing at concert halls and clubs nationally and internationally, including Blues Alley, Pops for Champagne, The Jazz Kitchen, The Blue Wisp, The Kitchen Cafe, The Bop Stop, Con Alma, JazzB (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Sandler Center (back-up vocals for Ben Folds) Meyerhoff Center (BSO), Wolf Trap for the Performing Arts (NSO) and The Kennedy Center (back-up vocals for Mr. George Benson, Sara Bareilles and Caroline Shaw). Dr. Purcell is the Director of Jazz Studies, Jazz Voice Instructor and Director of the Downbeat Award-winning Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble at George Mason University.

Ms. Purcell is a former Washington DC Air Force Band vocalist, with the groups High Flight and the Airmen of Note, performing nationally and internationally, including Germany, Italy, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Purcell performed back-up vocals for nationally renowned recording artists, Chaka Khan, BeBe Winans, Bryan White, Lari White, Janie Frickie, Freda Payne, Sherrie Payne, Gloria Loring, Melba Moore and Rita Coolidge as well as a televised performance behind Darlene Love on "The Late Show with David Letterman."

In addition to her active performing schedule, Dr. Purcell is a sought-after jazz vocal educator and clinician. Dr. Purcell was the Jazz Voice Instructor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and founder/director of the University of Illinois Jazz Vocal Ensemble. She is now the founder/director of the Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble. Her groups have been invited to perform at the New York Voices Jazz Festival, Western Michigan’s Gold Company Jazz Vocal Invitational, the 2012, 2018 Jazz Education Network (JEN) conference, Kansas City Jazz Summit and Tiffin Vocal Festival. Dr. Purcell has served on the faculty of the W.O. Smith Music School camp (Nashville), Illinois Summer Youth Music, George Mason Summer Jazz Workshop, National Jazz Workshop and Mason Jazz Camp to name a few.

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Album Review

Darden Purcell: Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood

Read "Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood" reviewed by Geannine Reid

Darden Purcell's album Love's Got Me In A Lazy Mood (OA2 Records, 2023) shows her keen ear for the subtleties and nuances which define the West Coast cool jazz vocal sound. Purcell's album comprises eleven tracks which blend the laid-back, sophisticated rhythms and melodic inventiveness that characterize the style with beautiful singing and nimble playing. Purcell is joined by an ensemble of musicians whose contributions are pivotal to the album's charm and success. On six tracks the ensemble ...

Album Review

Darden Purcell: Easy Living

Read "Easy Living" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Working backwards, I discovered DC-area jazz vocalist and educator Darden Purcell with her second recording, Where the Blue Begins (Armored Records, 2016). It was an impressive recital with the nominal theme of twilight winding through its repertoire. While less thematically focused, Easy Living remains a well programmed set of eleven standards, “My Funny Valentine" thankfully not among them. Easy Living smacks of youthfully precocious invention, a collection of master musicians trying their individual talents out in creative ways. ...

Album Review

Darden Purcell: Where the Blue Begins

Read "Where the Blue Begins" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Dr. Darden Purcell waited eight years to record Where the Blue Begins as a follow up to her debut recording Easy Living (Armored Records, 2009). The Dr. part? Yes, well Dr. Darden is the Director of Jazz Studies, Jazz Voice at George Mason University, and holds a doctorate of Musical Arts in Jazz. Her bona fides aside, Darden, is as much a vocalist as an educator and each role feeds the other in a most convenient relationship. Easy Living is ...

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"Darden Purcell’s latest project “Love’s Got Me in a lazy Mood” is a rich and swinging affair, with powerful, impeccably performed arrangements that (IMHO) often evoke the memory of great arrangers like George Shearing and Marty Paich. Some serious musicianship from all the players. Darden has a lovely sense of ‘history’ in her sound - it’s clear she’s listened to all the greats, while giving these songs her own stamp. Music full of joy - a pleasure".

- Peter Eldridge, Vocalist, Pianist, Composer, Arranger and founding member of the New York Voices

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Primary Instrument




Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced


Dr. Darden Purcell is the Director of Jazz Studies, Instructor of Jazz Voice and Director of the Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble at George Mason University Dewberry School of Music. www.music.gmu.edu/jazz-studies 



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Easy Living

Armored Records


Where the Blue Begins

Armored Records


Where the Blue Begins

Armored Records


Willow Weep for Me

From: Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood
By Darden Purcell


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