Lenora Zenzalai Helm created Vocal Jazz Online over the course of several transformations of online classes. Frustrated with the absence of vocal jazz instruction that did not cater to specific needs of vocalists, Lenora began working on better ways to teach and empower vocalists. Lenora is committed to providing
accessible vocal jazz instruction online and, and a step-by-step, unique approach for vocal jazz that focuses on the learning process.
Lenora Zenzalai Helm is a native of Chicago, Illinois and is a jazz vocal musician, composer, lyricist and educator with over two decades of performing and composing experience, garnering international acclaim.
A former U.S. Jazz Ambassador, with six solo recordings and her own recording and publishing company, Zenzalai Music, she can be heard on numerous recordings with the biggest names in Jazz.
Career highlights include being the first African-American vocal jazz musician to become a MacDowell Colony Jazz Composer Fellow, graduate from Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in Film Music Scoring/Voice, earn a Master of Music in Jazz Performance from East Carolina University, and be awarded the Chamber Music America/Doris Duke New Works: Creation and Presentation award for jazz composers.
Helm’s work as a leading jazz vocal musician earned her the accolade “…the voice of her generation...” from Jazziz Magazine. Though most of her 25-year span of musical achievements as a Jazz Vocal Musician specializing in Classic, Traditional jazz standard and original repertoire to critical acclaim, she also has touring, recording and performing credits in many genres -- including R&B, Neo-Soul, and Pop, Theater and Opera.
As a TV and film music composer, notable music credits include Ms. Helm’s compositions featured in several 2012 Black History Month promo campaigns on the ESPN television network. The ESPN spots were a reunion of her work with noted writer/director Lana Garland, also the director for the ESPN Black History Month campaigns. Garland’s film, After Life, previewed and awarded at the Arizona Black Film Festival and the Village D Cinema festival in Lisbon, Portugal, also featured Helm’s score. Helm is a SESAC writer and her publishing company, Baoule Works Music Publishing, is a SESAC publishing affiliate. She also maintains her ASCAP publishing catalog, Holly’s Hits Music Publishing.
In 2011, Lenora began working on her new book, Vocal Jazz Handbook, and in 2012 was asked to write a vocal jazz syllabus for the University of South Africa, Pretoria (UNISA). This great honor marks the very first vocal jazz syllabus in the history of UNISA, the largest distance education provider on the continent of Africa. She was the first to create online vocal jazz programs for North Carolina Central University, and led a 12-person team pioneering a globally networked learning environment for students studying Jazz music through cultural exchange between South Africa, Denmark and the U.S.
Helm is on the music faculty at North Carolina Central University in Durham, and co-directs their NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Her students have not only earned positions as educators, but have also become leaders in the music business earning top prizes in competitions, concert tours with top charting artists and Grammy award nominations.
Her touring trio includes pianist Ryan Hanseler, bassist Lance E. Scott, Jr., and drummer Larry Q. Draughn, Jr. Their 2011 critically acclaimed recording, I Love Myself When I’m Laughing is available on CDBaby and iTunes and was included on the Grammy ballot for consideration of nomination as best vocal jazz album.