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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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"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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