Emerging Jazz Artist Award

Celebrating Toronto's outstanding emerging jazz artists


Deadline: Feburary 2021. Nominations for this award will open in November 2020.

About: The Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Jazz Artist Award is a $10,000 cash prize with finalists receiving $1,000. The award furthers the career of an outstanding emerging jazz artist and is intended to support the pre-production, production, and/or recording of original music composed by the recipient. Established in 2014, the award is supported by Cheryl and Manuel Buchwald, and will be given out annually for at least 10 years. The Emerging Jazz Artist Award is part of our Vision Awards, presented every year at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

“As a creative person you have a lot of dreams of things you would like to do, and finances often stop them. I often dream and dream big. An award like this makes those dreams possible.” – Larnell Lewis, 2017 Emerging Jazz Artist Award Recipient

Eligibility Criteria:

• must be a professional artist 35 years of age, or younger
• must have completed training (not necessarily at a formal educational institution) in their discipline
• must have contributed significantly to arts and culture inToronto and have demonstrated an ongoing association with Toronto
• may only receive this award once
• may self-nominate  
• are not eligible to nominate or receive Toronto Arts Foundation awards while serving as an executive board member or staff of Toronto Arts Foundation or Toronto Arts Council
• Undergraduate & College students are not eligible to apply

No person may be selected for more than one Toronto Arts Foundation award within any given year. No person may receive the same Toronto Arts Foundation award twice. This does not preclude a recipient from being considered for a different Toronto Arts Foundation award in the future.

The award recipient must complete their proposed project within 2 years of the award date, and appropriately acknowledge the support of the Toronto Arts Foundation. The recipient will also be required to provide feedback on how the award and project has impacted their career.

Full Eligibility Guidelines for 2020 (PDF).

How to Apply: To nominate yourself (self-nominations are accepted for this award) or an individual for the Emerging Jazz Artist Award you must,

  • Visit the Toronto Arts Foundation Nomination portal https://tac.smartsimple.ca/welcome/taf/
  • Register an account on the Toronto Arts Foundation Nomination portal or sign in to your existing account
  • Submit the nomination online, complete with supporting material

Along with the name of the individual you are nominating, the nomination form will also ask for a biography, a nomination rationale, and accompanying support material in the form of visual, audio or text-based attachments.

Nominators can save their application at any time before submission by clicking ‘Save Draft’. Nominators can log-in and out of the Toronto Arts Foundation Nomination portal asmany times as needed before clicking ‘Submit’.

* Please ensure you are on/ register through the Toronto Arts Foundation Nomination portal and not Toronto Arts Council’s TAC Grants Online.

Selection Procedure: An award assessment panel of up to 10 members will review nomination profiles and select a shortlist and recipient recommendation for this award. Toronto Arts Foundation’s Board of Directors will make final determinations. Each panel is comprised of participants who are practitioners of the arts, organizers, programmers, producers, curators, critics, commentators and lay specialists.

This award is presented in recognition of a body of creative accomplishment, rather than for specific works or achievements. In addition to specific requirements for each award, deliberations will be guided by the following assessment criteria: artistic strength and achievement; strength of the candidate’s artistic goals and objectives; contribution to the development of arts and culture in Toronto; and the candidate’s overall public impact including public engagement and animation.

Contact Info: For questions, please contact Christy DiFelice, Toronto Arts Council Music Program Manager, by email at christy[at]torontoartscouncil[dot]org or by phone at 416-392-6802 X 202


Emerging Jazz Artist Award Recipients

  • Mark Godfrey, 2019 recipient 

    Mark Godfrey has emerged as one of the leading new faces in Canadian jazz. Awarded the Grand Prix de Jazz from the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2014 along with his ensemble Pram Trio, his work as a co-leader, bassist and composer has garnered international recognition. Equally versatile on both double and electric bass, he has established himself a mainstay on the Canadian jazz scene, performing at jazz festivals across the country and with a variety of Canadian artists, including Kellylee Evans, Barbra Lica, Jake Koffman and the Toronto Jazz Orchestra. Godfrey, who released his debut EP in 2018, also works as a jazz educator.

  • Rebecca Hennessy, 2018 Recipient 

    Rebecca Hennessy is a highly sought-after Toronto-based trumpeter, composer and bandleader. As a leader and co-leader, Rebecca has released eight albums and has toured Mexico, Panama, Sri Lanka, Europe, USA and in Canada. She has performed and recorded with internationally recognized artists including Adele, Ron Sexsmith, Andy Kim, Owen Pallett, Broken Social Scene, Feist, Ab Baars and Ken Vandermark. Rebecca co-leads modern jazz quartet Way North. In 2016, her FOG Brass Band was nominated for both the Montreal Jazz Festival’s Grand Prix de Jazz and the Halifax Jazz Festival’s Galaxie Rising Star Award. Her most recent CD, Two Calls was rated best Canadian jazz albums of 2017 by Ottawa Citizen.

  • Larnell Lewis, 2017 Recipient 

    Toronto native Larnell Lewis is a musician, composer, producer, educator and clinician. One of Canada’s most promising up-and-coming drummers, Lewis has garnered international status with his most recent works with the three-time Grammy Award winning band, Snarky Puppy. He is a part-time music professor at Humber College, has been featured on the cover of Modern Drummer (September 2016), and has performed with such artists as Fred Hammond, Lalah Hathaway, Lisa Fischer, and Laila Biali.

  • Amanda Tosoff, 2016 recipient 

    Amanda Tosoff is a Toronto-based pianist and composer. She has performed with internationally recognized artists like Ingrid Jensen, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Phil Dwyer, Brad Turner, and Kelly Jefferson, and her groups have opened for jazz legends Bobby Hutcherson, Renee Rosnes, Oliver Jones, and Brazilian singer Luciana Souza. Amanda has been awarded such honours as General Motors Grand Prix de Jazz at the 2009 Montréal Jazz Festival, and more recently, a 2014 graduating scholarship from the University of Toronto – an award given out to graduates deemed to have potential to make a contribution to music. On her fifth release, Words (2016), Amanda has taken an adventurous leap beyond the confines of conventional jazz. She has taken poems and lyrics that possess a personal resonance for her and framed them in original new compositions that utilize vocals for the first time (sung by highly-regarded singer Felicity Williams of band like Hobson’s Choice, Broken Social Scene, and Bahamas). The result is an eclectic collection that incorporates elements of art song, classical, folk and jazz.

  • Justin Gray, 2015 recipient 

    Justin Gray is a bassist, composer and producer based in Toronto. His main influences include Jazz and North Indian Classical music. Justin co-leads the Toronto based Indo-Jazz ensemble Monsoon, and contemporary jazz ensemble Gray Matter. Justin is also on faculty at Humber College, where he leads the Indo-Jazz Collective. Over the course of his career, Justin has had the opportunity to perform with a number of renowned jazz artists, including; Dave Liebman, Dave Douglas, Mike Stem, Ingrid Jensen, Seamus Blake, Dan Weiss, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Greg Osby, John Riley, Tony Mallaby, Pat Labarbera and David Mott. In 2010, Justin invented and co-created the Bass Veena, an instrument designed for Indian classical and Indo-jazz music. Justin is now emerging as the first artist to perform traditional and original music on this instrument worldwide. Justin has previously received generous support from the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts to pursue original composition, recording and formal studies.

  • Chelsea McBride, 2014 recipient 

    Chelsea McBride is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, and band leader based out of Toronto, Ontario. After relocating to Toronto from Vancouver to obtain her B.Mus at Humber College, Chelsea now leads two of her own projects: Chelsea and the Cityscape and Chelsea McBride's Socialist Night School, both of which feature her original compositions and talents as a saxophonist. Her highly personal blend of modern jazz, pop-rock influences, and subtle, moody orchestrations has coalesced into a bright and fresh new sound that listeners of all stripes can enjoy.

2019 Emerging Jazz Artist Award Finalists

  • Teri Parker, 2019 Finalist 

    "I love jazz music because of how open and all encompassing a genre it is. The word ‘jazz’ in today's world includes a large diversity of styles and mixing of influences, which allows for great freedom of expression. The creative work I do as a jazz musician brings me great joy, and I’m thrilled to be part of the constantly evolving jazz scene in Toronto." — Teri Parker is a jazz pianist, keyboardist and composer based in Toronto. She leads her own band, the Teri Parker Quartet, and co-leads the Parker Abbott Trio with pianist Simeon Abbott. With these groups, Teri has released four full-length albums of original music and toured throughout Canada. She is an active member of the jazz scene in Toronto and plays regularly at the Rex and Tranzac clubs with a varied cast of musicians, exploring original music and jazz standards in a contemporary context. Parker’s 2019 projects include an all-female band called Free Spirits, performing the music of the late Geri Allen and Mary Lou Williams.

  • Jesse Ryan, 2019 Finalist 

    "As far back as I can remember, one of the first things that attracted me to jazz was the fact that it creates a space where the collective is more important than the individual – a space for collaboration, cultural exchange, and where old and new worlds meet." — Jesse Ryan is an emerging musician, composer and community arts educator in Toronto. He is a woodwind player with a special focus on alto saxophone and flute performance. Ryan is a talented composer whose musical ideas are a true celebration of the cultural, rhythmic and expressive connections between North American jazz and the music of the islands of the Caribbean. His monthly residency at Poetry Jazz Cafe in Toronto's Kensington Market will culminate in the release of his debut album, Bridges, in August 2019.