Women in Jazz: About the Performers

Melissa Raquel is the Band Leader of Honeybee Jazz Music. She began her professional career at the age of 16 in her hometown of Houston, Texas. Some of her singing highlights have been with Willie Nelson, Steve Tyrell, Leann Rimes, and the late Dana Rogers. She has recorded with Grammy winner pianist, Floyd Domino as well as the late Johnny Gimble and the late jazz guitarist Bucky Meadows. Melissa’s vocals have been described as jubilant in its highs, soulful in its lows, and mellifluous at its core. She warms the hearts of many with her velvet smoky tone, embodying both the blues and folk traditions of Texas along with stylings reminiscent of jazz vocal greats, generations before her.

Pamela Hart, Austin’s First Lady of Jazz, warms the heart of any audience with her pitch, clarity, and presence. Pamela has shared the stage with her idol, Miss Nancy Wilson, and has opened for many other national acts such as Dianne Reeves, Rachelle Ferrell, Kirk Whalum, Patrice Rushen, ‘Fathead’ Newman, Jazz in Pink, and more. Pamela and her husband Kevin Hart produced (and she has performed in) the Women in Jazz Concert Series 1994 through 2021.   She also loves teaching jazz performance and vocal quality, especially to youth.  She was inducted into the Austin Jazz Society Hall of Fame in 2018.  With her performances, the Women in Jazz Association, Inc., vocal performance workshops, and vocal coaching, Pamela is making a difference in the Austin jazz scene. 

Ohio native Rachel Spencer is known for her stylistic prowess in a wide range of genres, and expressive tone. Her music has afforded her many travel opportunities. She has performed at TMEA, OMEA, the Tanglewood Music Center, and has traveled to Hong Kong as a featured performer in the Chinese New Year Parade. Rachel holds a Master of Music from the University of Texas at Austin. Rachel has devoted her energy to the forward motion of music education and jazz education. She is a band director, private lesson teacher, clinician, and serves on brass faculty for the Cadets drum and bugle corps. She is a founding member of Jazz Girls Texas, and has served on faculty at the Longhorn Music Camp, Texas Jazz and Blues Camp, and works Production Central at the annual Jazz Education Network Conference. 

A physician by day and singer by night, Candace took up singing as a hobby several years ago.  Since moving to Austin, Texas, Candace has worked with many incredible musicians including Ruth Carter, bass playing legend Jimi Calhoun and Jake Langley (Roberta Flack, Willie Nelson, k.d. lang). In February of this year, Candace released a new EP, Sweetest Melody, featuring her keyboard player, Todd Wilson and in April she will reprise her role as Roberta Flack in the musical, "The Voices of Donny Hathaway".  Candace has been a SoulTracks award nominee, had her previous album, In My Lane, released in Japan by Sweet Soul Records and has traveled the United States sharing her music. The Austin Chronicle wrote,” Bellamy’s calling card is her voice, a smoky, soulful instrument of joy…” 

Double bassist Jessica Valls is an Austin, Texas-native musician who exemplifies the ubiquitous artistry of a true music lover, heeding to no one genre, discipline, or stage. Performing regularly with several orchestras including the Austin and San Antonio Symphonies, Jessica is previous principal bassist for Orquestra da Rádio e Televisão Cultura in São Paulo, Brazil, and enjoys traveling to Brazil to perform and teach. She appears with chamber ensembles, jazz, tango and bluegrass bands, in studio recording sessions, on film soundtracks, television and radio jingles, and popular festival stages around the world such as The International Festival at Round Top and Encontro Brasileiro de Contrabaixos in Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil.  Currently Dr. Valls is on faculty at Southwestern University, Huston-Tillotson University, The Girls’ School of Austin and maintains a private studio of budding string players of all ages.

Masumi Jones moved to the US from Japan to study at Berklee College of Music in 1995. Since settling in Austin, she has been playing with many Austin bands such as Alex Coke Quartet, Mitch Watkins Trio, Jitterbug Vipers, Sarah Sharp, 35mm, Austin Jazz Workshop, Tapestry Tap Dance Company, and more.  Her group 'Masumi and the Gentlemen' had a weekly residency at Lamberts BBQ downtown from 2011 to 2017 and had live streaming shows weekly on the Lunch with Masumi website.  The reunited Japanese piano trio G.G. (former Groovin' Girls in 90’s in Boston) was featured in the short documentary film 'Jazz Abroad' in 2016, and also was featured on the NPR Live Sessions 'Love Austin Music Profile' on March 2020.

Juliana Silveira is a Brazilian pianist graduated from Santa Marcelina University (São Paulo-Brazil). She took part in a wide range of different bands from the rich music scene in São Paulo, from big bands and singers projects to piano solo concerts, having performed in various important stages in the city. In 2017 she moved to Austin, Texas, where she continues her work as a performer and educator, while pursuing a Master Degree in Jazz Piano Performance at University of Texas.

Lauryn Gould enjoys a vibrant career as a performer, educator, composer/arranger, and community music facilitator. She makes music in a wide variety of contexts, both locally and internationally.  Lauryn earned a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance from Texas State University, an MA in Community Music from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, Ireland, and a MM in Jazz Saxophone Performance at Texas State University. She performed with Jon Batiste at the Austin City Limits Music Festival (2021), with Black Pumas on The Late Late Show with James Corden and at Stubbs (2021), and with Asleep at the Wheel at the Mercer Dance Hall (2019). Lauryn is also very active with music advocacy in Austin and was appointed by Councilwoman Fuentes to serve on the Austin Music Commission representing District 2 in spring 2021. Currently, Lauryn can be found performing with Floyd Domino's All Stars, The Brooks Prumo Orchestra, Texas Moaners, Rock Step Relevators, Golden Hour Quartet, Cats & the Canary, and as a studio artist, freelance flutist, saxophonist, and vocalist.