2024 Contest Judges & Guest Artists
Grammy nominated pianist/vocalist, Judy Carmichael is one of the world’s leading interpreters of stride and swing piano. Count Basie nicknamed her “Stride,” acknowledging the command with which she plays this technically and physically demanding jazz piano style. Judy’s vocal debut on her CD Come and Get It features her singing everything from Peggy Lee inspired standards, to humorous takes on Fats Waller tunes. Her first all-vocal CD I Love Being Here With Youfollowed, which is also her first with someone else playing piano, in this case the great Mike Renzi (who was music director for Mel, Tormé. Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee and Sesame Street ) with Harry Allen on sax and Jay Leonhart on bass.
America’s Jazz Times says: “Judy Carmichael exhibits a truly remarkable ability to channel Peggy Lee’s breathy invitingness and her befogged insouciance. Additionally, she echoes the intense perspicacity of the solo albums of Annie Ross. In other words, Judy winningly blends two of the all-time finest, most intuitive jazz singers.”
Judy has taken this infectious style of music and her equally infectious personality everywhere from posh nightclubs in Paris and Melbourne to Carnegie Hall and a Rio concert for ten thousand Brazilians; from Arundel Castle (where she opened for Leslie Garrett and the London Philharmonic) to
Castle Fraser for the National Trust of Scotland at the behest of longtime fan, Sir Cameron Mackintosh.
Judy’s been featured on A Prairie Home Companion, NPR’s Morning Edition, Entertainment Tonight, CBS’ Sunday Morning, CNN’s Business Unusual, Mornings With Margaret Throsby for the Australia Broadcast Corporation, Jo Soaresin Brazil and the BBC’s Loose Ends, In Tune, Up All Night, Woman’s Hour and numerous other shows
For 22 years Judy has produced and hosted Judy Carmichael’s Jazz Inspired which broadcasts on NPR stations across America and podcasts everywhere but Mars, although it might be there too. She has written two books on stride piano and numerous articles about jazz. Her memoir, Swinger! A Jazz Girl’s Adventures From Hollywood To Harlem was published in January 2018 and her book, Great Inspirations: 22 Years of Jazz Inspired on NPR was published in August 2022.
Judy Carmichael is included in The Encyclopedia of Jazz, Madame Jazz: Contemporary Women Instrumentalists, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in Finance and Industry in America, “Who’s Who in American Woman, American Women in Jazz, Who’s Who in the World, as well as the Encyclopedia of Jazz and is one of the few jazz pianists honored as a Steinway Artist. She has been included in a number of jazz anthologies and at one point, to her utter surprise, turned up in the Simon and Schuster murder mystery Murder Times Two as “the stride pianist Judy Carmichael,” the main suspect’s favorite piano player.
Judy’s recordings, music books, Swinger! and Great Inspirations are available at www.judycarmichael.com or by mail order through C&D Productions, P.O. Box 360 Sag Harbor, New York, 11963. www.jazzinspired.com
Todd Robbins is an award-winning performer and creative artist that has worked in many areas of popular entertainment and the performing arts during a year career. Todd has been on more than 200 TV shows, and recently was seen hosting his True Nightmares TV series for the Investigation Discovery Channel. As an authority in many areas of arcane popular culture, Todd has been called upon to be a talking head on many TV programs, and to provide commentary on the DVDs of Tod Browning’s Freaks and the 1947 noir classic Nightmare Alley.
Classically trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, he has put his performing abilities to good use in the two Drama Desk nominated theater pieces that he created for off-Broadway. The first one, Carnival Knowledge, was a behind the scenes look at the world of the American sideshow and chronicled his experiences working in places like Coney Island. The second show was Play Dead, which he wrote with Teller (of Penn & Teller). Teller also directed this acclaimed production. Todd reprised his role in Play Dead at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, and also created and starred in The Charlatan’s Séance at the Two River Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. Most recently, Todd just finished an extended run at the SoHo Playhouse of his controversial necromantic show, Haunt Quest and Todd can currently be seen hosting Speakeasy Magic, a show he created that features an ensemble of the best close-up magicians in NYC, now in its sixth year of performances.
Todd’s podcast Abnormalcy features Todd telling true twisted stories of murder and mayhem. For more about this go to abnormalcypodcast.com, and for more information about Todd go to toddrobbins.com
Watch Todd Robbins
Julie McClarey is an awarding winning pianist with a style that lights up every venue in which she appears. She has performed at notable locations in Branson, MO, Nashville, TN and throughout the United States. An undefeated National Ragtime Piano Playing Award winner three years in a row, she is equally accomplished with classical selections, hit standards from many eras, as well as traditional hymns and contemporary Christian music.
Julie’s love of people spills over into her performances, often playing “Name That Tune” with the audience and even having fun playing the piano “backwards.” Julie’s piano skills began to develop at the early age of six as she learned how to play on the family’s upright piano in the living room of the house where her parents still reside. Her training continued as she graduated Suma Cum Laude with a degree in Piano Performance at Millikin University.
Julie loves to teach as well as perform and has appeared as featured performer and music director aboard Showboat Branson Belle; performed with Dino and with Jo Ann Castle of the Lawrence Welk Show; has served as Band Leader/Pianist of the Country Music USA Show at Opryland USA and was a featured guest on the Pat Sajak Television Show. Julie McClarey at the 2018 Contest
Adam Swanson is one of the world’s foremost pianists and historians of vintage American popular music, including ragtime, early jazz, the Great American Songbook, and more. Adam has been a featured performer and lecturer at ragtime and jazz festivals across the United States and abroad, and he is the only four-time winner of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. He made his New York debut in Carnegie Hall at the age of nineteen, where he performed with Michael Feinstein. Adam appeared alongside pianist John Arpin at the Bohem Ragtime and Jazz Festival in the Republic of Hungary, and he has also toured Switzerland and Australia.
Adam has accompanied silent films at the prestigious Cinecon Classic Film Festival at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and performed privately for Oscar-winning Disney/Hollywood composer Richard M. Sherman (Mary Poppins, etc.). At the age of twenty-one, Adam performed a solo concert at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C.
Adam holds a bachelor’s degree in classical piano and a master’s in musicology from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. He has been mentored by other ragtime artists including the famed Max Morath and legendary 1950s recording artist Johnny Maddox, who was one of Adam’s greatest influences. Adam has recorded albums with noted musicians such as former rock star Ian Whitcomb, the Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra, and the Bar D Wranglers, a classic western band. Adam’s recordings have been used on the CBC TV show Murdoch Mysteries. He lives in Durango, Colorado, where he frequently performs in the Diamond Belle Saloon at the Historic Strater Hotel. Listen to Adam’s livestream virtual concerts on his Facebook page and YouTube channel. Adam Swanson performing in Oxford