SKSCA Jazz Exchange ProgramAbout the Program

Every year since 2000, the winner of the Kobe Jazz Vocalist Queen Contest held in Kobe’s Shinkaichi neighborhood, the birthplace of Japanese jazz, has visited Seattle to perform at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley. In 2005, the SKSCA launched a reciprocal program: a contest to send two female jazz vocalists from Seattle to perform in Kobe! Two vocalists are selected, one high school student and one adult. The semifinalists are chosen based on their applications and taped performances. They perform in a live competition at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in the spring. The winners of this final competition win an expenses-paid trip to Kobe to perform at the Shikaichi Music Street Jazz Vocalist Queen Contest held in Kobe in the fall.

The 14th Annual Seattle-Kobe Female Jazz Vocalist Audition

The Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association (SKSCA) is pleased to announce the 14th Annual Seattle-Kobe Female Jazz Vocalist Audition. The SKSCA will send one high school student and one adult female jazz vocalist from the greater Seattle area to Kobe, Japan in May 2018 to be a guest singer at the 19th Annual Kobe Shinkaichi Jazz Vocal Queen Contest.

Every fall for the last 18 years the winner of the Kobe Shinkaichi Jazz Vocal Queen Contest — held in Kobe — has flown to Seattle to make her U.S. debut at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley. Thirteen years ago, SKSCA began holding a jazz vocalist audition as the reciprocal component of this exchange. We are now proud to be hosting our 14th jazz audition.

Finalists will be selected by early March and will be invited to give a live audition at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley on Monday, March 19, 2018 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Family, friends, and community members are encouraged to come and support the finalists. The ticket price is $15.00 ($6/ticket Jazz Alley service charge included) with proceeds supporting this and future Seattle-Kobe jazz auditions.

The two winners will be guest vocalists at the 18th Annual Kobe Shinkaichi Jazz Vocal Queen Contest held on May 12, 2018 in Seattle’s sister city, Kobe, Japan. (Back-up musicians will be provided.)

Grand Prize Winners will receive:

  1. Round-trip tickets to Kansai International Airport in Osaka (one for each winner and one for the guardian of the high school winner).
  2. Lodging for 4 nights in Kobe (winner and guardian in same hotel room).
  3. Breakfasts and dinner after the May 12th performance for winners and guardian. *Other meals/snacks, souvenirs and additional expenses are the responsibility of the winners.
  4. Airport transfers/ground transportation in Kobe.

Special Mention Winners will receive:
$150 gift certificate to Jazz Alley

All Finalists
Each finalist will have access to photography done by SKSCA during the performance.

Eligibility: Applicants must (1) be a female high school student or adult 18 years or older, (2) reside in the greater Seattle area and (3) be able to represent Seattle in Kobe, Japan.

Audition Schedule & Requirements

(1) January 30, 2018: Audition Application and Audition Fee Due – Submit your application online along with recordings of two songs for finalist selection. Then pay the application fee of $20.00 by using the form field and “Donate” button below.

$ (USD)

Screeners will judge each applicant on technical and artistic merit. One of the two tunes should be a jazz standard.

(2) March 1, 2018: Finalist Notification Finalists will be notified by email.

(3) March 19, 2018: Live Audition Live Audition

  • Live audition at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley on Monday March 19, 2018, 6:30-9:30 pm
  • Perform two tunes of contrasting jazz styles
  • May bring ONE accompanist (pianist, guitarist, etc.)
  • Each finalist will have a total of 12 minutes to set up, perform, and leave the stage.
  • Performances will be judged on technical and artistic merit.
  • Valid passport (must bring passport, copy of passport photo page to event, or proof of application for passport)

(4) May 12, 2018: Grand Prize Guest Performance in Japan!

Perform as guest singer while judges deliberate at the Kobe Shinkaichi Jazz Vocal Queen Contest in Kobe. Also, winners will have the opportunity to perform at Sone, a premier jazz club in Kobe, on Friday, May 11th. You’ll enjoy roundtrip travel from Seatac to Kobe, 4 nights lodging with breakfast, dinner after the May 12th performance, and airport transfers/ground transportation to/from hotel and KIX or Itami airports.

SKSCA is grateful to our Jazz Audition sponsors:

Sankei Travel
Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley
Kobe Trade Information Office
Shinkaichi Music Street

For questions or more information contact:


Q: What kind of proof do I need regarding my passport by the audition date?
Show us your unexpired passport or an original or current passport application at the time of audition registration. If you haven’t applied for a passport, note that you will likely need to expedite your passport so that you receive it in time for departure.
Q: By when do I need to submit my application?
Applications submitted after 11:59 pm on the deadline date will be disqualified.
Q: Am I able to receive feedback on my song submissions or audition results?
No, we do not provide feedback because the selection committee is made up of volunteers. We recommend that you attend one of the auditions to hear those who have been selected for the audition.
Q: What type of audio file should I submit?
Please only submit audio files using Quicktime or mp3. No videos.
Q: May I take side trips in Japan or elsewhere?
Sankei Travel, one of our sponsors, arranges the winners’ airline tickets. It is fine to extend your stay in Japan but winners are responsible for paying the cost difference directly to Sankei Travel.
Q: Are there any expectations of the winner after returning from Kobe?
1. Submit a short article about your experience in Kobe with a photo of you performing in Kobe.
2. Speak to the audience at both Kobe jazz events (Kobe Jazz Day with the Kobe Jazz Queen and the 2018 audition) as well as sing with the Kobe Jazz Queen while judges deliberate to select the next winners of the Seattle Kobe Female Jazz Vocalist Audition.

Jazz Audition Winners

Year Adult High School
2017 Nikki Dee Tiia Freeman
2016 LaVon Hardison Kristina Buno
2015 Taylor Zickefoose Alexandra Mountsier
2014 Jennifer Kienzle Laura Rosok
2013 Leah Natale Sofia Smith
2012 Nancy Erickson Taylor Zickefoose
2011 Jacqueline Tabor Kelila Gottlieb
2010 Kelly Eisenhour Ariel Pocock
2009 Greta Matassa Katherine Stuber
2008 Karen Shivers Siobhan Bruggers
2007 Emily Meyer Jennifer Hoyt
2006 Gail Pettis Courtney Fortune
2005 Kelley Johnson Isabella du Graf
Winners of the 2017 Jazz Competition

2017 Jazz Vocal Competition Winners: Nikki Dee, Adult; Tiia Freeman, High School; Gabriella Green, High School Special Mention; Emma Caroline Baker, Adult Special Mention