DARDEN PURCELL is a Washington D.C. based jazz vocalist. A multi-faceted musician, Ms. Purcell is an active featured soloist with big bands and small ensembles, band leader and vocal instructor. Ms. Purcell has collaborated with many of the world's top jazz artists including Jim Pugh, Chip McNeill, Dana Hall, Don Heitler, Glenn Wilson, Chip Stephens, Jeff Helgesen, Joan Hickey, Larry Gray, Dennis Carroll, Stockton Helbing, Joel Spencer, Darmon Meader, Michelle Weir, Lisanne Lyons, Dave Detwiler, Chris Vadala and The Airmen of Note, performing at concert halls and clubs throughout the nation, including the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Pops for Champagne (Chicago), The Jazz Kitchen (Indianapolis), The Blue Wisp (Cincinnati) and The Kennedy Center (back-up vocals for Mr. George Benson).
Ms. Purcell is a former Washington DC Air Force Band vocalist, winning a slot in the pop/rock group High Flight. With High Flight she performed nationally (US Capitol, Pentagon, Air and Space Museum, DAR and Constitution Hall), as well as internationally, (Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Oman and Qatar) and can be heard as a soloist and back-up vocalist on High Flight’s CD, Highlights. A highpoint of Purcell’s Air Force career was touring with the elite jazz band, The Airmen of Note. Purcell was the featured vocalist, touring throughout California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada, as well as performing alongside gospel star BeBe Winans and Lari White for “Operation Desert Greetings,” entertaining troops in Germany, Italy, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain. In addition to being a featured soloist, Ms. Purcell performed back-up vocals, as part of the USAF Band Guest Artist Series, for nationally renowned recording artists, Chaka Khan, Bryan White, Janie Frickie, Freda Payne, Sherrie Payne, Gloria Loring, Melba Moore and Rita Coolidge as well as a nationally televised performance behind Darlene Love on "The Late Show with David Letterman.”
In addition to her active performing schedule, Ms. Purcell is a sought-after jazz vocal educator and clinician. For three years, Ms. Purcell was the jazz voice teacher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and founder/director of the University of Illinois Jazz Vocal Ensemble. Under her leadership, this ensemble was invited to perform at the New York Voices Jazz Festival in Chicago, Western Michigan’s Gold Company Jazz Vocal Invitational in Kalamazoo and the 2012 Jazz Education Network (JEN) conference in Louisville, KY. Ms. Purcell has served on the faculty of the W.O. Smith Music School summer music camp (2007 – 2011) as well as the jazz faculty for the Illinois Summer Youth Music (2009, 2011). Her students have won “Outstanding soloist” awards at collegiate festivals as well as Downbeat Student Music Awards. Ms. Purcell is currently on the jazz faculty at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
Ms. Purcell received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Vocal Jazz Performance at Virginia Tech, a Master of Music in Jazz Performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently a Doctoral candidate (ABD status) in Jazz Performance also at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was awarded a University Fellowship.
November 2009, Ms. Purcell released her debut CD, Easy Living, on Dallas based record label, Armored Records. Easy Living was produced and features Grammy Award-winning saxophonist, Chip McNeill as well as Shawn Purcell (guitar), Chip Stephens (piano), Dennis Carroll (bass) and Stockton Helbing (drums). Easy Living has received national airplay, and continues to be a top seller on CDBaby in the “Jazz,” “Jazz Vocals” and “Vocalese” categories. CDBaby voted Easy Living the Jazz Vocal Pick for September 2010.