Name: Justin Kauflin
Current City: Virginia Beach, VA
Year won: 2012
1. What led you to apply to the VSA International Young Soloists Competition?
I found out about the competition while attending William Paterson University in New Jersey. The director of jazz studies, David Demsey, encouraged me to give it a shot, so I got to work right away.
2. What is one of your proudest accomplishments (personal or professional) since winning the competition?
One of the most exciting things that’s happened to me since winning the VSA International Young Soloists Competition is going on tour with Quincy Jones. His management team represents artists he’s interested in supporting and I was added to that roster early 2012. We started the tour in Switzerland and finished up in Hiroshima, Japan. It was an incredible experience I won’t soon forget.
3. What was your biggest takeaway from being a VSA International Young Soloists Winner?
It was really great to meet the other finalists and realize the diversity in what we all have to offer. It was such an honor to be counted among such talent. In addition to meeting the other performers, I learned a great deal about how to develop a successful career in music. The advice, encouragement, and performance opportunities I’ve received from the VSA team since then have been invaluable and I’m so grateful for it all.
4. Tell us something exciting you’ve been doing lately (performance, project, travels, job, etc.).
I am featured in an incredible documentary about the great jazz trumpeter Clark Terry. It’s entitled Keep on Keepin’ On, and it explores our relationship over a 4-year period of time. It was just short listed for Best Documentary for the Academy Awards, and the whole team is overwhelmed with gratitude at its positive reception. In addition to the movie, I will be releasing my sophomore album as a leader on January 13th. It’s entitled “Dedication” and it’s a collection of tributes I’ve written for important people in my life. This was an especially exciting project for me as Quincy Jones joined me in the studio as producer.