2009 AIJF Scholarship Winner
“Being the first musician to be awarded the Amelia Island Jazz Festival Scholarship was a true honor and a blessing”
Jawren Walton, an 18-year-old senior at Douglas Anderson School of The Arts, accepted the award at the Swing Into Spring Scholarship Award Benefit Concert in April 2, 2009. The Festival’s Jazz Advisory Board chose Walton after auditioning 12 finalists from the Northeast Florida area. At the concert Jawren performed with The Dynamic Les DeMerle 8-Piece All-Star Band, featuring vocalist Bonnie Eisele, and special guest, multi-instrumentalist Dr. Bill Prince.
“I am so honored to be selected and recognized by a group of excellent players and teachers like Mr. DeMerle and Dr. Prince,” said Walton, who brought his formidable “chops” to the University of North Florida’s jazz studies program last summer. “I am most appreciative and very excited about learning all I can, completing my studies, and then hitting the road as a professional musician.” He cites many of the great jazz saxophonists as influences and inspirations, including John Coltrane, Sidney Bechet, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, and Wayne Shorter.
Walton is already considered “one of the best student musicians in the state,” according to Ace Martin, the school’s Instrumental Music Chairman. “He is a member of the Florida Music Educators Association All State Jazz Band and has won superior ratings at the Florida Bandmasters Association Solo and Ensemble Festivals for the past three years.” Additionally, Walton was a prominent member of the Douglas Anderson Jazz Ensemble, which won the national 2006 Essentially Ellington Competition, sponsored by Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in New York City.
“Jawren is a terrific player and has an exemplary academic record,” said DeMerle, the Festival’s Creative Director. “He is quite mature and is well versed in the history of jazz from the beginning. Best of all, he knows how to swing! We are very excited to have him perform with us, and everyone who attends can expect a wonderful evening of great jazz. It is most gratifying to hear upcoming musicians like Jawren, along with so many other talented young players, who deserve recognition. Our festival will continue to add inspiration and financial benefits to help advance this great American art form.”