• Alexander Flood, Richard Craig, Chelsea Smart

2017 Mike Stewart Memorial Award

17 November 2017

Chelsea Lee Smart (jazz vocalist) and Alexander Flood (jazz drummer) both Elder Conservatorium of Music (University of Adelaide) graduates, have been announced as the joint recipients of the 2017 Helpmann Academy Mike Stewart Memorial Award. They will receive equal shares of the $7,500 cash award.

The Mike Stewart Memorial Award, presented by the Helpmann Academy and JazzSA Inc., was launched in 2016 to honour the legacy of Adelaide Jazz Icon Mike Stewart and provide outstanding early career jazz musicians with opportunities to help establish themselves as professional musicians.

The awards will enable Chelsea and Alexander to undertake a series of professional development opportunities, working with internationally renowned musicians.

Chelsea will undertake a nine-work program in New York City, working with a range of professional contemporary jazz musicians and composers. The program will focus on composition, and vocal and performance technique. Chelsea hopes to return to Adelaide with fresh workshopped material, with the intention of recording an original jazz album.

Chelsea said that the program would give her access to the necessary tools to push her compositional skills to new limits.

“To have an opportunity to embark on a program of this calibre, and follow in the footsteps of driven individuals such as Mike Stewart, Angus Mason (2016 Mike Stewart Memorial Award recipient) and Matthew Sheens, would be life-changing” she said.

Alexander will undertake an overseas study program in the U.S.A, travelling to four cities, and undertaking 11 private masterclasses with three professional mentors, including Robert ‘Sput’ Searight. Searight is a six-time Grammy award-winning drummer, who works regularly with artists like Snoop Dogg, Celine Dion, and Justin Timberlake. Alexander will also attend the 2018 GroundUP Music Festival.

Alexander said that the award would enable him to gain knowledge and expertise that is unattainable anywhere else in the world.

“One of my ultimate goals is to develop my own unique sound, style, and creativity, which will inspire other drummers and musicians. I hope to build a name for myself and an audience on an international scale, through my hard work, dedication, and passion for this art form. Undertaking this program will enable me to take big steps to further my career as a professional jazz musician and ultimately fulfil my goals and dreams’ said Alexander.

Richard Craig, Chair of Jazz SA Inc., presented the awards to Chelsea-Lee and Alexander at Helpmann Academy’s 2017 Celebration and Fundraiser held at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, on Thursday 16 November.

Mike Stewart was unifying figure in the Adelaide jazz community who inspired a generation of musicians to follow his strong example and pursue musical careers in Adelaide, New York City and beyond. The Mike Stewart Memorial Award has been created so that emerging musicians can access funds at a pivot moment in their careers, and help secure the future of an Australian jazz scene.

Congratulations Chelsea and Alexander!

Presented in partnership with JazzSA Inc.

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