Hitting All the Right Notes

Ava Preston, a recent alumna of Kent State University’s Glauser School of Music, has won an award for Undergraduate College Outstanding Performance from DownBeat Magazine. She will be featured in the DownBeat Magazine Student Awards issue in June. DownBeat Jazz Magazine is an internationally recognized jazz magazine published since 1934.

“The entire Glauser School of Music community is so proud that Ava Preston was recognized by DownBeat magazine with an Undergraduate College Outstanding Performance Award,” said Dr. Sarah Labovitz, director of the Glauser School of Music, “This recognition not only highlights the outstanding musicianship that Ava brings with her every time she graces the stage but also draws much deserved attention to the experience that all of our student musicians receive as members of Kent’s jazz program, under the leadership of our Director of Jazz Studies, Bobby Selvaggio.”

Preston, having studied music with a concentration in jazz, is a singer-songwriter with a few achievements under her belt. In 2023, she performed at the prestigious 2023 Monterey Jazz Festival in California. There she sang alongside the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and participated in a smaller gala, where she performed in front of musicians such as Herbie Hancock and Christian McBride.

“The jazz program has been amazing,” said Preston, "Bobby Selvaggio has helped grow as both a musician and a person. Bobby has helped me strengthen my theory and technical proficiency among many other things. The skills he and the other jazz faculty members have taught me are invaluable and set me up for success as an aspiring young artist.”

Preston was also featured on Ideastream Public Media’s Shuffle series. She discussed her musical journey, major influences and how she has evolved her style to incorporate elements of blues, ballads, pop and indie-rock. Other achievements include being recognized as a finalist for 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts from YoungArts, a Silver Award Winner for Jazz-Voice and many more. Preston will be attending Juilliard in New York City, pursuing her Master’s degree in vocal jazz. “My education at Kent State under the direction of Bobby Selvaggio has truly prepared me to take on the New York jazz scene.”

About the DownBeat Magazine Student Awards

The DownBeat Student Music Awards are open to student jazz musicians, age groups ranging from middle school to college. Students can either submit recordings of existing pieces or original scores for the competition. Submissions are judged based musicianship, creativity, improvisation, technique, sound quality and balance, excitement and authority.

Established in 1976, the DownBeat Student Music Awards are considered the most prestigious awards in jazz education. Hundreds of musicians, music educators and music industry professionals received their first international recognition as DownBeat Student Music Award winners. 

Photography by Joseph Calhoun

POSTED: Monday, June 3, 2024 08:14 AM
Updated: Monday, June 3, 2024 11:32 AM