“I am music” was one of April’s first proclamations as a very young child and it holds true to this day. Since singing her first notes as a four-year-old, inspired by none other than the Disney Princess movies, her journey toward growing as a musician began. In fact, April has spent the majority of her life performing and competing in the arts.
NYC-based jazz vocalist with the curly red hair from Toledo, Ohio, April Varner is a name you won’t soon forget. She began taking voice lessons at the University of Toledo as a classical vocalist at age 8 and began studying piano from her grandmother at age 6. No stranger to the stage, April began displaying vocal, musical theatre, drama, and piano talents at the local, regional, national, and international levels at a young age. This includes being a guest vocalist at the Toledo Symphony Orchestra Pops Concert, a 2-time All-National Honors Ensemble member in Nashville, TN, and a National Finalist at the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Academy in Carmel, IN. By age 16, April had made her Carnegie Hall debut in Weill Hall following a first-place award by the American Protégé International Vocal Competition, and had traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland as part of a drama group to share the stage with world actors at the renowned Edinburgh Arts Fringe Festival.
April began her musical transition into jazz after discovering a deep passion for it following her freshman year at Indiana University. April soon after became the director of the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, ResoluSHion, within the Grammy-nominated show choir, The Singing Hoosiers. During her final semester at IU, April was the vocalist in the Du Vido Septet, a Brazilian Jazz Ensemble led by Brazilian composer, arranger and pianist, Guilherme Ribeiro. The group was chosen as one of three finalists within the famed Detroit Jazz Festival’s Collegiate Combo Competition. In the spring of 2020, April graduated with her undergraduate degree in Jazz Studies (Voice).
At the age of 26, April has already performed/studied with a multitude of legendary artists and jazz luminaries such as Tierney Sutton, Sachal Vasandani, Jane Monheit,, Peter Eldridge, Walter Smith III, Kurt Elling, Darmon Meader, Sunny Wilkinson, Kate McGarry, Michael Feinstein, Benny Benack III, Dayna Stephens, Russell Malone, Theo Bleckmann, Elio Villafranca, Jean Baylor, Rogerio Boccato and Damien Sneed. Countless appearances at many of the city’s top jazz spots have followed, including The Django, 55 Bar, Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Club, Ornithology Jazz Club, Birdland Theater, Minton’s Playhouse and more. She has also performed at other notable venues around the Northeast, such as Blues Alley in Washington, D.C, and Chris's Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.
April graduated in May of 2022 with her Master’s degree in Jazz Voice Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Soon after, she released her first EP, entitled "Hummingbird", featuring both original compositions and original vocaleses. It can be found on all streaming services.
April most recently was awarded the 2023 Winner of the International Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Vocal Competition. She is excitedly awaiting the release of her debut full-length album, entitled “Dear April”, on June 28th, 2024. It was produced by Grammy-Award winning drummer, producer and educator, Ulysses Owens Jr. The personnel of the album include Russell Malone, Benny Benack III, Dayna Stephens, Theo Bleckmann, Reuben Rogers, Miguel Russell and Caelan Cardello. April will also be making her debut at the world-renowned Birdland Jazz Club on April 21st, 2024 as well as Mezzrow Jazz Club on April 28th, 2024.