Former U.S. Jazz Ambassador and Fulbright Senior Music Specialist, Lenora Helm Hammonds is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music and Jazz Studies Program at North Carolina Central University. Her service at NCCU includes directing the NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble (12 voices and rhythm section) and a number of academic and student initiatives, including the planning, design and coordination of a Teaching Artist Certificate program, and co-authoring a Global Citizen Certificate course. Recent awards include the 2018 Javett Music Award serving as an international jazz scholar at University of Pretoria, South Africa, a 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Publishing and NCCU’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Lenora’s dream for creating access to under-served global populations interested in vocal jazz education was realized in the creation of a library of online vocal training programs at www.LenoraHelm.online.
Her achievements in academia are in addition to more than three decades as a performing artist. Professionally known as Lenora Zenzalai Helm, Lenora is a jazz vocalist, vocal musicianship coach, composer, lyricist and educator with six solo recordings, her own recording and publishing company, Zenzalai Music, and an extensive discography with some of the biggest names in jazz and contemporary music. Her achievements garnered accolades as “...the voice of her generation,” by Jazziz Magazine. She has appeared in renowned jazz festivals and venues worldwide, including Jazz at Lincoln Center, Schomburg Center's Women in Jazz Festival, JVC Jazz Festivals, Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, Capetown Jazz Festival, South Africa and Fiji Jazz & Blues Festival. Brief career highlights include jazz composer awards from Chamber Music America/Doris Duke’s New Jazz Works, a MacDowell Colony composer fellowship, and composing music for ESPN Black History Month ads. Her sixth and latest CD, I Love Myself When I’m Laughing, was listed on Independent Ear’s 30 Recommended Record Releases amongst an esteemed list of jazz artists. She lives in Durham with her husband Fred Hammonds. Visit her at www.LenoraHelm.com