Ucross and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice are pleased to announce a joint music fellowship intended to promote equity in the jazz field. The inaugural Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice Partnership at Ucross award will be presented to Shamie Royston, an acclaimed pianist from Denver, Colorado, in Fall 2022.
Made possible through the vision and leadership of Ucross trustee and alumna Kate Schutt, who studied jazz guitar at the Berklee College of Music, the fellowship will be awarded once a year to a female jazz musician/composer. The awardee will receive a two-week residency at Ucross, which consists of uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef, and the experience of the majestic High Plains on a 20,000-acre ranch in northern Wyoming. The award also includes a $2,000 stipend.
“I am incredibly proud to partner with Ucross, an organization that values artistic freedom and creativity, in presenting Shamie Royston with the inaugural fellowship,” said Terri Lyne Carrington, founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. “Shamie is incredibly talented as a composer, arranger and pianist, with limitless creative potential. I cannot wait to see the results that will come out of her artist residency. Her dedication to her craft and exemplary work deserves the opportunity to experience the unparalleled creative freedom this fellowship will provide.”
“Ucross is honored to join forces with the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice to champion women in jazz. We look forward to welcoming Shamie Royston to our campus for uninterrupted time and space this fall,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “Also, I want to thank Kate Schutt for her dedication to Ucross, her vision, and her ability to connect these two organizations in a meaningful way for the partners and for female jazz artists.”
Royston, according to JazzTimes, is “a vigorous, versatile pianist.” She grew up in Denver alongside her sister, the award-winning musician and Berklee professor Tia Fuller, in a musical and academically minded household. The daughters of two public school teachers, the sisters were introduced to jazz at a young age and eventually joined their parents in a family band. As a teenager, Royston attended the Telluride Jazz Camp and the University of Denver. She was mentored by trumpeter Ron Miles with whom she formed a band and later recorded with drummer Ginger Baker of Cream.
Today, Royston has established herself as an in-demand performer and educator in the New York/New Jersey area. Kevin Whitehead, in reviewing Royston’s album “Beautiful Liar” on Fresh Air, claims that her music is “straight-ahead, tuneful, hard-swinging brand of jazz that’s always in style” and that her “composing really stamps her music.” DownBeat Magazine states that her music is “mainstream post-bop with thoughtful interaction and a deep sense of poise. It swings hard and breathes easy.”
Aside from leading her own ensembles, she continues to work with Fuller and has appeared with Christian McBride, Sean Jones, Lonnie Plaxico, Ralph Peterson, Terri Lyne Carrington, Allison Miler, and many others.