ARTS & CULTURE

Artist of the Year

Over the last 40 years, the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission has selected outstanding artists nominated by the public and has honored them through the Artist of the Year Award. The Artist of the Year award is presented for outstanding achievement in the discipline of performing, visual, and literary arts. Nominees must be a resident of Santa Cruz County and must have: a national or international reputation, contributed to the cultural enrichment of the local community, and created or presented work in Santa Cruz County.
2024 Artist of the Year

Tammi Brown

 

Tammi Brown, jazz and gospel singer, has been named 2024 Santa Cruz County Artist of the Year by the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission. The Artist of the Year award is presented to local artists for outstanding achievement in the discipline of performing, visual, or literary arts who have also made a substantial contribution to the cultural enrichment of Santa Cruz County. 
 

Biography

Drenched in the uplifting and sultry sounds of Gospel and Jazz music, Tammi’s voice is filled with rich tones, elegant phrasing, and vocal versatility, giving it a unique flavor. Influenced at the tender age of 4, Tammi quickly found her musical roots in the soulfulness of Gospel music while singing, playing organ, and directing the choir in church. Her musical roots blossomed when she discovered the vocal gracefulness of Ella Fitzgerald, the rawness of Aretha Franklin, and the power of Chaka Khan.

Tammi’s music journey has placed her on several stages in more than ten countries worldwide including the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, The Monterey Jazz and Blues Festivals, and various prestigious venues throughout Europe and abroad.  She has performed with some of the world’s most notable music industry icons, including Quincy Jones, Alan Parsons, Bobby McFerrin, Stanley Jordan, Dr. Maya Angelou, Joan Baez, Spyro Gyra, and Eric Bibb. She is currently a vocalist in the two-time Grammy Award nominated Vocal Ensemble, The Cultural Heritage Choir, led by the legendary musicologist Linda Tillery.  Recently, her performance on the award-winning Lost American JazzBook won the Best Jazz with Vocals album in the 18th Independent Music Awards. 

In 2008 Tammi received an invitation by renowned Jazz guitarist, Stanley Jordan, to sing background vocals for the tune Steppin’ Out on his record State of Nature, which received a 51st Grammy Award nomination. In addition, she was selected to perform in the tribute to Quincy Jones at the 59th Monterey Jazz Festival and at the Hollywood Bowl backing the legendary Valerie Simpson.

Tammi had the honor of singing an ‘Opening Song’ for the legendary Renaissance Poet, Dr. Maya Angelou at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium in 2011. She was asked to be the opening act for prominent folk singer Joan Baez at Esalen’s 50th Celebration concert. That same year, she provided vocals for Blues great, Eric Bibb’s Jericho Road.  To add to her impressive musical accomplishments, Tammi co-produced her single That’s How it Goes with 13-time Grammy nominated Jazz Fusion artist, Tom Schuman of Spyro Gyra.

As a panelist for ‘Career Day’ at local schools, Tammi has shared with hundreds of students a pathway to obtaining a successful career in the music industry. She is the vocal instructor at the Music School owned and operated by former Doobie Brother’s keyboardist, Dale Ockerman, as well as founder and Director of the Santa Cruz Gospel Choir which consisted of 50 singers who frequently sang uplifting music in Convalescent homes and on Pacific Avenue to the general public.  She has performed for many benefits, including the annual Prostate Cancer Benefit, the NAACP Gospel Night, The Youth Resource Bank, Red Cross’s Heroes Breakfast, as well as several benefits presented by the Resource Center for Non-Violence. In addition, she’s supported and performed for every Martin Luther King and Women’s Marches held within our county.

 

Experience the Art

The date and location for Tammi’s Profile Performance is to be announced.  Tammi learned in fall 2023 that she had stage 4 cancer – amazingly, several months at a Kummbwa Jazz performance, she announced that she is living and thriving, and nearly cancer-free.  Please check back for more information end of February.   

Listen to Tammi Brown perform "For Love" below.

Vocals by Tammi Brown. Piano by Dan Zemeleman. Written by Albert Greenberg and Dan Zemelman for The Lost American JazzBook
 
 

More by Tammi

"Lost Anthem of the USA" performed at the Santa Cruz Women's March 2019

 

About the Award

History
Over the last 39 years, the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission has selected outstanding artists nominated by the public and has honored them through the Artist of the Year Award. The Artist of the Year award is presented for outstanding achievement in the discipline of performing, visual, and literary arts. Nominees must be a resident of Santa Cruz County and must have: a national or international reputation, contributed to the cultural enrichment of the local community, and created or presented work in Santa Cruz County.
Nominee Criteria
Nominees must meet the criteria established by the Commission:
  • Must be nominated by a resident of Santa Cruz County
  • Artist must reside in Santa Cruz County
  • Artist must have a national or international reputation/standing
  • Artist must have contributed to the cultural enrichment of the local community
  • Artist must have created or presented work in Santa Cruz County
Nomination Process
  • People seeking more information or who wish to nominate someone for Artist of the Year, please see the document below or contact us for more information. Nominations for Artist of the Year 2025 are due March 1, 2024.
  • Nominated artists will be contacted by Parks staff regarding application details.
  • Artist of the Year Nomination Info Sheet PDF
  • Past Artist of the Year Recipients PDF

Sponsorship

The Artist of the Year program is sponsored by the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission
and the County of Santa Cruz Department of Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services.

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