"...one of the local jazz scene’s most promising performers." – The Washington Post
"Lena Seikaly [is] one of the contenders for D.C.'s best singer, with a rich voice and precise articulation that belies her enormous creativity on the vocal." – Washington City Paper
"The lovely young D.C. vocalist Lena Seikaly is gaining a national reputation. Little wonder: her full-bodied voice has power and confidence far beyond [her years], and her litheness and control is incredible. [She is] well on her way to a major singing career…" – Washington City Paper
"Ms. Seikaly sings with a rich mezzo-soprano voice, using intonation, timbre and control that reflect her classical training. Her phrasing, feeling and improvisatory leanings come from an understanding of jazz values." – Doug Ramsey (2008 Lifetime Achievement award-winning jazz journalist)
LENA SEIKALY is a fresh voice on the national jazz scene from Washington, D.C. Named “one of Washington’s preeminent jazz singers" and “brightest voices in jazz" (The Washington Post), as well as a “major league young talent in jazz" by Duke Ellington’s biographer, Dr. John Hasse, Lena is already making her mark as both a revivalist of traditional jazz vocals, as well as an innovator in contemporary vocal jazz styles. She began her training at age four with piano, continued with classical voice in her teens, and went on to complete a B.M. in classical vocal performance at the University of Maryland School of Music. It was in college where Lena discovered a strong passion for jazz, and embarked on a fervent education of jazz history, styles, theory and composition before pursuing a jazz career in the Washington, D.C. area. Most recently, she was named one of eleven semi-finalists for the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Vocals Competition, and heads to L.A. in November for an internationally televised competition adjudicated by Al Jarreau, Freddy Cole, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Patti Austin and Luciana Souza. She was a Strathmore Artist-In-Residence in 2009-2010, a participant in the prestigious Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency in Washington, D.C. (2009) where she worked closely with Dr. Billy Taylor, Carmen Lundy, George Cables, Curtis Fuller, Winard Harper and others, and a participant at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass program in Aspen, CO (2005), directed by Christian McBride.
As the leader of her own trio, quartet and quintet, Lena has headlined at such renowned D.C. venues as Blues Alley, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, the Atlas Theater, Strathmore Mansion, the Carlyle Club, the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, various Smithsonian venues, and at festivals across the U.S. (including the Elkhart Jazz Festival and Mel Bay Jazz Festival) and in Holland, Switzerland, and France. Lena has self-produced three albums – Written In The Stars (2009), Lovely Changes (2011) and Looking Back (2013) – all three received critical acclaim from music critics in leading D.C. online and print publications, and the latter two were released to sold-out shows at Blues Alley. Lovely Changes earned her the titles of D.C.’s “Best Vocalist" and “Best Composer" for 2011 by the Washington City Paper, while Looking Back — a tribute to Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, and featuring “lost songs" from the 1920s and ‘30s — was dubbed “the work of a supremely confident master of her instrument" by the same publication.
Lena is also very active in the D.C. area as a professional classical mezzo-soprano, a recording artist in varying genres, and arranger, and in 2012 had the unique privilege of being commissioned to arrange a suite of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s music for a 16-piece version of the New Orchestra of Washington, which premiered later that same year. An avid educator, Lena was the jazz vocal instructor at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts during 2008-09, and has lead seasonal workshops at the Strathmore Music Center for aspiring jazz vocalists since 2010. She currently teaches privately, focusing on jazz vocal coaching, style and technique.
As a Palestinian American, Lena has also been involved in many Arabic fusion projects both in the U.S. and abroad — in summer of 2015, she toured in Palestine (West Bank) and Israel as the featured vocalist with Al-Manara, a European-Palestinian ensemble performing original music based on the life of its Palestinian composer and founder, Ramzi Aburedwan.