Lenora Zenzalai Helm - Global Leader In Jazz Education

Jazz vocal musician and educator, Lenora Zenzalai Helm is leading the way in creating vocal jazz programs, and globally networked learning environments focused on Jazz music, hop-scotching the globe from the Fiji Islands, South Africa, Denmark and the United States.

Recently returning from a string of concerts and appearances at the 2012 Fiji Jazz and Blues Festival, Port Denarau, Fiji, Helm and her trio of musicians - pianist Ryan Hanseler, bassist Lance E. Scott, Jr. and drummer Larry Q. Draughn, Jr. - performed to enthusiastic audiences garnering critical acclaim. Hanseler, Scott and Draughn are Jazz Studies alumni of the North Carolina Central University Department of Music where Helm is a music professor. This trio has traveled and performed with Helm internationally for over a year and appears on her 2011 CD release I Love Myself When I'm Laughing. True to her commitment to mentor emerging jazz vocalists, she invited a current Graduate Jazz Studies student from NCCU, vocalist Coty Cockrell, to join her trio in performance in Fiji. Her group headlined the festival, which hosted 100 musicians and more than 30 international bands. The festival ran from May 10 -13, 2012.

Frankie A. Reed, the U.S. Ambassador to Fiji, Kirabati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu, invited Helm, a former U.S. Jazz Ambassador, to visit Fiji's capital city of Suva, and requested Helm's assistance to foster cultural exchange. Ambassador Reed provided generous support for Helm and her trio to appear at the Fiji Jazz and Blues Festival, and introduced the group at the opening gala concert for the festival.

Ambassador Reed's staff at the U.S. Embassy in Suva organized several appearances for Helm, resulting in workshops and media interviews. Helm gave a master class to young instrumental and vocal college musicians at the Conservatorium of Music and appeared live on Radio FM with Wame Valentine. Ambassador Reed said she "wanted Helm to act as a positive window to the United States, encouraging and reflecting healthy ties between the two nations."

As vocal jazz builds audiences worldwide, universities are rapidly building and expanding course curricula in Jazz. Helm was tapped by the largest distance education institution on the continent of Africa, University of South Africa, Pretoria (UNISA), to create a vocal jazz syllabus, the first ever in the country. The syllabus will launch in Fall 2012, and Helm will travel to South Africa to take part in a week-long residency with other international jazz educators from South Africa, Europe and The United States at the UNISA International Jazz School. Beginning September 28 and 29, 2012 with workshops in the townships of Soweto, and Soshanguve the residency events are positioned as a kick-off introducing the new jazz syllabus offerings at UNISA. South African musicians in the townships who are not able to travel to the events in Pretoria will thus have an opportunity to experience Helm and the international array of jazz educators. Helm will perform with other Jazz School faculty at the Gala Concert at the ZK Matthews Great Hall, Pretoria on September 30, followed by the Jazz School events running from Monday, October 1 - 5, at the main UNISA campus in Pretoria and Sunnyside. Those events include a comprehensive schedule of workshops, nightly concerts, jam sessions, and a culminating concert with students and faculty on Saturday, October 6th. A final workshop in the township of Polokwane will take place on Sunday, October 7. Registration and full details on the UNISA International Jazz School can be obtained at

Helm co-created a groundbreaking new Jazz course, Jazz! Born in America, Created Internationally, where students from the United States, Europe and South Africa will explore Jazz music through the cultural lens of each country. The course begins Fall 2012 in each country with online and classroom students. This type of course, called a Globally Networked Learning Environment (GNLE), involves cohorts of students with faculty in their geographic location, working together to explore a specific subject. The class will comprise musicians and non-musicians working together creating music, and new media projects around Jazz, meeting online and traveling to the host countries. Helm led the team for this unique course of jazz faculty and staff from three universities - Royal Academy of Music, Aarhaus, Denmark, University of South Africa, Pretoria and North Carolina Central University - through a year-long collaborative process of intense course design, planning and implementation. Interested students in the United States can register to participate in this first-of-its-kind course offered at North Carolina Central University by contacting Helm at

In the United States, Helm will present a paper, at Future Teach 2012: "Preparing 21st Century Educators as Technology Leaders and Teachers of Millennial Students." Future Teach is the 4th Annual Summer Technology Institute for Educators and will take place Thursday & Friday, June 21 & 22, 2012 at the H.M. Michaux, Jr. School of Education on the campus of North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC. The "Ask The Expert" style lecture presentation, titled Asynchronous & Synchronous Learning in Globally Networked Learning Environments, will provide insight to the research of the team for which Helm is the leader, of faculty and staff from universities in the U.S., South Africa and Denmark. To register for the conference visit

Amidst a busy schedule of her activities as a leader in global jazz education, Helm manages to still perform live. You can hear her upcoming concert on Sunday, June 24, in Raleigh, NC at Ruggero Piano. The concert will benefit, at their 3rd Annual, Critics, Musicians and Audiences: Who Knows Best? is a non-profit organization, providing a free cultural arts calendar and journal with reviews, previews and arts news, serving the artists and residents of the State of North Carolina. The concert begins at 3:00 pm and will feature Helm and her trio. The concert is free, and donations to are vigorously suggested!

Lenora Zenzalai Helm is a jazz vocal musician, composer, lyricist and educator with six solo recordings, her own recording and publishing company, Zenzalai Music, and an extensive discography including her voice and compositions on numerous Jazz recordings. Her October, 2011 Zenzalai Music CD release, I Love Myself When I'm Laughing is available at Helm's achievements in music have spanned more than two decades garnering her inclusion as a subject of biographical record, since 2005, for Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Women and Who's Who in the World. A Chicago native, Helm has been a member of the music faculty at North Carolina Central University since 2005 and now makes Durham, NC her home.

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