Jazmin Ghent arrives for her event-closing Oct. 17 performance at 2021’s Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival riding a huge wave of success.
“Kickin’ It Up,” from her 2021 album album Forever … Jaz, reached No. 1 on the Billboard smooth jazz charts in June – her highest-ever ranking. “Kickin’ It Up” is the up-and-coming jazz saxophonist’s sixth Top 5 smash, after “Stride,” “Amends,” “Work Wit It,” “Heat” and “Compared to What.”
To some degree, she was born to play jazz, a favorite of her parents. “On their first date, they talked about their love for jazz,” Ghent told WTOP. They had records by many of the legendary greats, and even named her after this uniquely American form of music. “So, I kind of feel destined to play jazz,” she added.
Ghent’s 2019 release The Story of Jazz earned the prestigious NAACP Image Award for outstanding jazz album. She was also nominated for the Smooth Jazz Network’s artist of the year in 2019, and earned best new smooth jazz artist honors in 2017. An accomplished music educator, she takes the stage at 8 p.m. at the fifth annual Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival.
Along the way, Ghent has performed with noted artists like Kirk Whalum, Steve Cole, Kim Waters, Jeff Kashiwa and others, and had a memorable turn at the legendary Newport Jazz Festival. “It was an amazing experience,” she later told The Ledger. “I opened the festival and saw a lot of stars like Richard Elliot, Rick Braun and Norman Brown.”
She received a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, a Master’s Degree from Tennessee State University and is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of South Florida. Ghent started out playing piano as an elementary-school student, but by the sixth grade had switched to saxophone.
She’s never looked back. “If I didn’t have music, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she told Lucas Johnson. “Music distracted me from getting off track and being something I’m not. It really allowed me to express myself and find my way in life.”
The fifth annual Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival will once again be held on Carver Street, home to the historic Charlie’s Place. Dates for this year’s event are Oct. 15-17, 2021. Click here to find out how you can provide critical financial support as the festival returns after a pandemic-related pause.