Lena Seikaly is a mezzo-soprano and jazz vocalist native to the Washington, DC area. Named “one of Washington’s preeminent jazz singers" and "brightest voices in jazz” (The Washington Post), as well as a “major league young talent in jazz” (Duke Ellington’s biographer, Dr. John Hasse), she has established herself in national and international jazz circles as both a revivalist of traditional jazz vocals and innovator in contemporary vocal jazz styles. She was one of eleven semi-finalists for the prestigious 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Vocals Competition in L.A., is an alum of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program in DC, the Jazz Aspen Snowmass program directed by Christian McBride, and the Strathmore Artist-in-Residence program in Maryland. Both as a bandleader and featured artist, Lena has headlined at Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai (China), Zorlu Center and Nardis Jazz Club (Turkey), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Strathmore Music Center, Blues Alley, the Hamilton, West Virginia Public Radio’s Mountain Stage, Sidney Harman Hall, various Smithsonian venues and DC’s famed Westminster Church. On the festival circuit, she has headlined the Elkhart Jazz Festival (Elkhart, IN), Mel Bay Jazz Festival (St. Louis, MO), Chestertown Jazz Festival (Chestertown, MD), DC Jazz Festival (Washington, DC), and Center City Jazz Festival (Philadelphia, PA). She has performed alongside Cyrus Chestnut, Byron Stripling, Sean Jones, Rodney Whitaker, Carl Allen, Norman Simmons, Michael Feinstein, the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, U.S. Army Blues, Capitol Bones Big Band, and the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra.
Lena has released four albums under her name between 2009 and 2018, all of which were released at Blues Alley. Her music is played regularly on DC’s jazz station WPFW 89.3. Her most recent album, “A Little Closer,” was featured on Washington DC’s NPR station, WAMU 88.5 shortly after its release.
As an avid educator and workshop instructor, she has taught privately and led regular workshops on jazz vocals at the Strathmore Music Center, and teaches privately in Washington, DC. Lena is also a classically-trained operatic mezzo-soprano, having studied at the University of Maryland School of Music under the instruction of François Loup. She was the first-place winner of the National Society of Arts and Letters’ 2008 DC chapter opera competition, and continued to win fifth place at the national competition in Bloomington, IN. She performs as a soloist alongside the DC area’s top orchestras and choirs, having been featured in Handel’s Messiah, Durufle’s Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s Magnificat, Debussy’s Trois Chansons, Kodaly’s Missa Brevis, Bernstein’s Missa Brevis and The Lark, Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, and Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez’ The Imaginary City 2014 world debut. She served as alto soloist and section leader at Westmoreland Congregational UCC from 2006-2015, and as lead vocalist at the Washington National Cathedral’s weekly jazz service from 2017-2018.