Chelsea Lee Smart
Jazz Vocalist / Composer
My name is Chelsea Lee Smart, and I am a South Australian Jazz Vocalist/Composer. I have recently returned home from a two-month professional development program in New York City, following on from the recording of my debut album – events that were both made possible by Helpmann Academy.
After graduating from the Elder Conservatorium of Music with my Jazz Honours degree in 2016, I have been planning the next steps to take for my musical career in both Australia and New York. Since being awarded the 2015 ‘Top Jazz Undergraduate’ award for Jazz Voice at the Helpmann Academy Jazz Awards, I have found a generous and supportive community within Helpmann Academy.
Given complete freedom of creative exploration following the end of my academic time at University, my compositions began to take a forefront in my development. To further improve my knowledge of modern jazz writing, I took lessons from Peter Bernstein and Will Vinson, which vastly shaped my skill today. Will’s impact on composition pushed me in a way I simply was not expecting.
I applied for a grant from Helpmann to assist in funding my debut album recording at WizardTone Studios, which I was fortunate to feature Will Vinson on. Being able to create this so early on in my career, and with complete artistic control has helped to shape the artist I am today.
In 2017, I was awarded Helpmann Academy’s Mike Stewart Memorial Award, which allowed me to travel to New York for two months so I could receive further lessons with Will. During this time I was also given the chance to partake in a life-changing lesson with vocalist Dominique Eade in Boston. Not only was I able to continue working on my craft in a city where Jazz thrives, I was able to watch my musical heroes perform right in front of my eyes, while also being fortunate enough to present my original music on four occasions as a bandleader.
Without the help from Helpmann Academy, I would not have been able to gain these career-building experiences. Their generous funding helped me to keep the dream of a future as a jazz musician in New York City alive.
In the near future, I plan to apply for my Master’s degree in NYC, where I will be given the opportunity to grow in new ways I could only imagine.
If you want to help keep the dream alive for other emerging South Australian artists, I would urge you to make a donation (no matter how big or small) to the Helpmann Academy.
Chelsea Lee Smart
The Mike Stewart Memorial Award is presented in partnership with Jazz SA.