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The Kennedy Center
Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead

Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead
Jason Moran, Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz

May 26 – June 6, 2020

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will present Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead, the international jazz residency, performance and composition project discovering and presenting the next generation of jazz greats, May 26 – June 6, 2020, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Under the direction of Jason Moran, Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz, the Jazz Ahead program identifies outstanding, emerging jazz artist-composers in their mid-teens to age twenty-five, and brings them together under the tutelage of experienced artist-instructors who coach and counsel them, helping to polish their performance, composing, and arranging skills.

The two-week residency program – for which there is no tuition or application fee – includes daily workshops and rehearsal with established jazz artists and culminates in three concerts on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, which will be broadcast live over the Internet.

The Kennedy Center will provide participants with per diem to cover meal expenses and lodging at a local hotel. Transportation to and from Washington, D.C. will be the responsibility of the residency participant. International applicants are encouraged to apply; international transportation for those participants will be made on a case-by-case basis. There is no application fee or tuition.

Betty Carter, who possessed one of this era's most extraordinary voices, was devoted to jazz education. Her Jazz Ahead program, which she brought to the Kennedy Center in 1998, has helped launch the careers of several of today's stars, including Cyrus Chestnut, Jason Moran, and Jazzmeia Horn, among others.

Video: Jason Moran and Casey Benjamin discuss Betty Carter, and their time at Jazz Ahead with Betty in 1998.

Applications are now closed


Serious U.S. and international jazz musicians in their mid-teens to age twenty-five are invited to apply.

Applicants must be:

  • age 25 and under as of May 26, 2020
  • proficient in English
  • dual composers and performers

Application Recording Specifications:

Electronically submit a total of four (4) recordings, each three (3) to four (4) minutes in length, featuring performances by the applicant in a trio or larger group (no solo or duo allowed), including:

  • One (1) standard "All the Things You Are" (Kern and Hammerstein); plus
  • Three (3) original applicant compositions, including one (1) ballad

Recordings must:

  • Prominently feature applicant as soloist in each song (pianists are encouraged to show their skills as an accompanist, as well).
  • Adequately convey the composition and performance level of the applicant, but need not be of broadcast quality.

The Two-Week Residency Includes:

  • One-on-one instruction from residency leaders
  • Performance of original compositions
  • Networking opportunities with other young jazz musicians
  • Performances on Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, broadcast live, worldwide on the Internet June 4 – 6, 2020 at 6:00pm EST

2020 Resident Faculty:

  • Jason Moran, residency director
  • Casey Benjamin, saxophonist
  • Dee Dee Bridgewater, vocalist
  • Peter Martin, pianist
  • Clarence Penn, drummer

Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Alumni Include:

  • Jazzmeia Horn, vocalist
  • Maurice Brown, trumpeter
  • Sharel Cassity, saxophonist
  • Christie Dashiell, vocalist
  • Michael Dease, trombonist
  • Jon Irabagon, saxophonist
  • Grace Kelly, saxophonist
  • Michael Mayo, vocalist
  • Lage Lund, guitarist
  • Jason Moran, pianist
  • Aaron Parks, pianist
  • Benny Reid, saxophonist
  • Christian Sands, pianist
  • Yotam Silberstein, guitarist
  • Nate Smith, percussionist
  • Marcus Strickland, saxophonist
  • Milton Suggs, vocalist
  • Jacky Terrasson, pianist


Call Kennedy Center Jazz at (202) 416-8348 or email us at

Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead
Photo Credit: Margot Schulman