This is an archived AIR alumni spotlight. See our current spotlight here!


Christie Dashiell, Class of 2014

When speaking on current top jazz vocalists, it is impossible to not mention our alum Christie Dashiell. Following her time as an Artist in Residence, Washington City Paper named her Best Jazz Vocalist in 2015. That same year, Christie was featured on Billboard for her cover of Janet Jackson’s “Let’s Wait Awhile;” a mesmerizing single that can be found on Blue Note Records’ compilation album Supreme Sonacy (vol. 1). In 2016, she charted on Billboard again—this time for her original contemporary jazz album, Time All Mine.

When Christie is not performing with her own quartet in venues such as the Kennedy Center and Blues Alley, she can be found sharing the stage with musical giants. Helen Sung, Marcus Strickland, Christian Sands, and Smokey Robinson are just a few of the collaborations that this virtuosa currently has under her belt. In 2019, she completed a 3-week residency with the Willie Jones III Quartet at Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai. Her most recent collaboration was with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in their performance of Marsalis’ “The Ever Fonky Lowdown.”

Christie Dashiell

Christylez Bacon, Class of 2008

A little over a decade has passed and we are still captivated by the talent that is Christylez Bacon. This progressive hip hop artist wasted no time in creating a name for himself after finishing his residency in 2008. The following year, Christylez was nominated for a Grammy for his feature on Banjo to Beatbox, a joyful children’s album from Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer.

Christylez has done a remarkable job of sharing his message of cultural acceptance and unity through music around the world. In 2011, he birthed the Washington Sound Museum; a concert series that celebrates diversity and collaboration through music. The success of this organization afforded him the opportunity to travel to Brazil and immerse himself in Brazilian music and culture. The trip was filmed and turned into a stunning documentary, Washington Sound Museum: Hip Hop Meets Brazil.

Although Christylez has several international achievements, his domestic accolades are just as impressive. From performing alongside the National Symphony Orchestra to curating a Ted Talk on the art of reinventing hip hop to paying homage to go-go legend Chuck Brown in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial, he has just about done it all. His passion for music and ability to put a smile on the face of everyone he meets will undoubtedly keep him a household name for years (even decades) to come.

Christylez Bacon

Mark G. Meadows, Class of 2015

JazzTimes once wrote that our AIR alum Mark G. Meadows “fuses the tradition of jazz with the sounds of today in a very musical and entertaining way,” and we couldn’t agree more. Mark has become a force to be reckoned with, whether he’s performing music by others or his own original songs. Since his time at Strathmore, he has released two projects: To the People (2016) and Be the Change (2018). He also founded The Movement, a band that seamlessly intertwines jazz complexities and pop relatability.

Mark’s work as a music director is also truly remarkable. He recently directed Motown Christmas and Soul Divas, two sold out productions at Signature Theatre. This fall, he will be arranging and orchestrating a new musical that will run at the Kennedy Center. As if these accolades are not impressive enough, Mark currently serves as the music director for Tony award-winning actress Cynthia Erivo. His latest duties have included touring Los Angeles and Miami with Erivo and performing her Golden Globe-nominated song “Stand Up” from the film Harriet.

Mark G. Meadows

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