Celebrating Two Grammys

Many people ask me “What is an arts council?”. ArtsWestchester is an arts council, one of some six-thousand nationwide, which supports the arts through leadership, funding, programming, education, advocacy, audience cultivation and professional development.

“One of the things I love the most about what we do is giving emerging artists and performers opportunities to have their work seen and to help them to hone their creative skills,” states Janet Langsam, CEO.  This grassroots support for artists helps to advance careers.

At our recent Arts Award Celebration, we saw our investments in emerging talent bear fruit when we gave jazz singer Samara Joy the Emerging Artist Award. In February, Samara—a 2021 graduate of SUNY Purchase—won two Grammy Awards: for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal Album.

Years before Samara became a Grammy winner, we hired her to perform at our events. This Bronx native is truly an example of what we hope many of her peers will do: come to Westchester, learn about the arts, experience the arts, and get some opportunities.

At the Arts Award Celebration, Samara credited her early ArtsWestchester gigs with paving the way for her success as a jazz vocalist and helping her to overcome fears.

“I remember during my undergraduate experience trying to seek out opportunities to sing,” she told attendees. “It couldn’t have happened without opportunities and organizations like ArtsWestchester.”

Of course, not all the young people we serve will end up on the Grammy stage, which is why ArtsWestchester exposes young people to many other career paths, including visual arts, exhibition curation and back-of-stage skills.

ArtsWestchester invests in youth while bringing people of all ages together to celebrate something that is essential to our humanity: the appreciation of art. This community building results in a county that has the power to nurture and elevate stars like Samara. That’s an accomplishment we can all cherish.