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LENORA ZENZALAI HELM is a native of Chicago, Illinois. She was the first African-American woman to graduate from Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in Film Music Scoring/Voice. Helm also studied Indian classical voice at the Jazz India Vocal Institute in Mumbai, India. She is presently a full time faculty member at NCCU, where she co-directs their highly acclaimed Vocal Jazz Ensemble.
Helm’s work as a vocal musician earned her the accolade “...the voice of her generation...” from Jazziz Magazine. She recently completed her fourth commercially available solo jazz recording entitled, Chronicles of a Butterfly, produced by saxophonist Branford Marsalis and due for release in February 2009. Previous solo recordings are Awakenings (1997, Baoule Music), Spirit Child (1999, J Curve Records) Precipice (2002 Baoule Music) and Voice Paintings (2003 MidLantic Records), touted by Christopher Loudon of JazzTimes magazine as “....a multi-hued masterpiece”.
Since 1987, Ms. Helm leads her own group, The Zenzalai Project. As a film music composer, credits include Ms. Helm’s work featured in the film After Life which was presented in 2007 at the Arizona Black Film Festival and the Village D Cinema festival in Lisbon, Portugal. As a lyricist, she has collaborated with Wayne Shorter, Andrew Hill and Branford Marsalis.
Helm is also the Artistic Director and cofounder of the nonprofit youth music program HARMONY Program Inc., which simultaneously provides New York City underserved youth ages 9 -13 with an instrument and weekly beginning music instruction, while training college music students as teachers.
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