Erna Ferry, Young Jazz Band-it Competitions’ General Manager
As General Manager, Erna is the first point of contact for bands entering the Young Jazz Band-it competitions.
She is an acclaimed blues vocalist and jazz educator with wide experience in arts administration.
Her arts administration experience includes 20 years as the Art Co-Ordinator at Awatapu College in Palmerston North, and as the organiser of the Arts Week, Festival of Culture and a range of other annual entertainment events.
Erna came to jazz via years of performing in commercial and blues-based bands throughout the Manawatu region in New Zealand, as well as experience in performing Theatre with roles in major musical productions the likes of Slice of Saturday Night, Hair and The Best Little Whore House in Texas.
In 1993, an enthusiastic friend entered Erna in the ‘Jazz Quest 1993” in Wellington, run by Geoff Culverwell which she won. The prize was a bottle of Chardonnay and a half-hour recording session at Radio New Zealand. On that recording date, she met a glittering array of senior jazz players – Rodger Fox, Mannie Abrahams, Nick van Dijk, Roger Sellars and jazz work came in regularly from that date onwards.
Then she went to Monterey with the Rodger Fox Band. Erna toured the USA in September 2000, alongside the Rodger Fox Big Band with appearances at the Monterey Jazz Festival and performances in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
The release of her first CD recording ‘Devil May Care’ featured the musical backing of The Rodger Fox Big Band, musical arrangement by acclaimed American writers Gordon Brisker and Jeff Driskill and special appearances by star performers Bill Cunliffe and Jon Papenbrook.
Erna has led workshops at jazz festivals in Tauranga, Wellington, Auckland, Manawatu, Nelson and Christchurch and is a tutor at the NZ Jazz Foundation High Schools’ Course in Wellington in January every year, and also in July at the ‘Rhapsody in Rotorua’ Youth Festival, which features combined schools from New Zealand and Australia.
She has been the vocal tutor at Awatapu High School for many years has a jazz choir, which evolves as students leave at Year 13 and join at Year 10. She has recently joined the teaching staff at Palmerston North Girls High School and has founded a 3-girl jazz group there.
In 2017 Erna appeared, with Rodger Fox, at the Monterey Jazz Festival in California and more recently attended and performed at the Jazz Education Network (JEN) 2020 conference in New Orleans.