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Toni McGowan brings a unique brightness to the jazz genre. Her excitement about all different kinds of music shines through her performances and compositions, displaying hints of classical all the way to pop in a jazz combo setting. Growing up in Washington State, Toni started playing the violin at the age of 5. She continued to explore the orchestral world by later picking up the viola, which she played in groups like the Cascade Youth Symphony. Eventually, Toni was pulled away from string music, and ventured out to embrace vocals. Throughout high school, Toni composed many solo guitar/voice singer-songwriter tunes that she performed at various Seattle venues like the Vera Project and Hollow Earth Radio. In the summers of 2012 and 2013, Toni McGowan played her solo set at Summer Meltdown festival.
Toni McGowan was first introduced to vocal jazz while attending the Summer Sounds workshop. She participated in a vocal jazz choir, which made her fall in love with jazz. After that, Toni had her heart set on graduating from Cornish College of the Arts, where she currently attends, and pursuing a career in jazz performance, composition and teaching.
While attending Cornish, Toni McGowan has sung at jazz venues around Seattle, including Egan’s Ballard Jam House, Boxley’s, the Owl N’ Thistle Irish Pub, Julia’s, North City Bistro, The Angry Beaver, and more. She has also played with an amazing lineup of musicians such as Randy Halberstadt, Tom Varner, Jovino Santos Neto, Darin Clendenin, Eric Verlinde, Chris Symer, D’Vonne Lewis, Greg Feingold, Max Holmberg, Max Wood, Cole Schuster, Jesse Sullivan, and many others. Additionally, she has also shared the stage with her private instructor, Johnaye Kendrick, and bassists Michael Glynn and Chuck Deardorf, drummer Ray Price, and pianist Dawn Clement.
Toni McGowan contributes a revitalizing mixture of all her interests into her performance. Whether it’s lyrics that reflect a deeply personal internal conflict or a piece with strange instrumentation about the neighborhood dogs she’s met, she shares with her audience the experiences the world brings her. Randy Halberstadt, a successful Seattle pianist and mentor to Toni, had this to say of her 2015 junior recital: “I think what impressed me the most was the breadth and variety of the music you presented. It really demonstrated your love for music of all styles and also your work ethic. You are one of those students that make me happy to come to work each day”.