Guildhall School of Music & Drama announces new Head of Jazz

Dr Jo Lawry (by Claudio Raschella)

Guildhall School of Music & Drama announces new Head of Jazz

Guildhall School of Music & Drama is very pleased to announce Dr Jo Lawry as Head of Jazz, starting in February 2024.

Dr Jo Lawry is a vocalist, composer and educator, and joins Guildhall School from the University of Sydney, where she is Equity in Jazz Team Leader. Dr Lawry has also been on the faculty of New England Conservatory, Boston; Manhattan School of Music, New York and the University of Adelaide.

As a musician, Dr Lawry has worked with Carnegie Hall as a featured artist in its ‘Musical Connections programme’, served as Artist-in-Residence at the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and has been a Teaching Artist-in-Residence at Frost School of Music, Miami and the University of North Texas, as well as being a guest teaching artist at Jazz Campus, Basel and Siena International Jazz Workshop. Her debut album, I Want to Be Happy, was named as one of “Best CDs of the Decade” by Downbeat Magazine. As a guest artist, Dr Lawry has also featured on numerous jazz recordings including Dr Lonnie Smith’s Rise Up! And Kate McGarry’s If Less is More… Nothing is Everything.

Beyond jazz circles, Dr Lawry has become well known for her work with Sting, with whom she has toured and recorded since 2009, and more recently with Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel. In 2013, Dr Lawry was featured in the film 20 Feet From Stardom, which chronicled the lives and careers of the musical voices behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century, and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Armin Zanner, Vice-Principal & Director of Music at Guildhall School, says:

“I am delighted that Dr Jo Lawry will be our new Head of Jazz. She brings exceptional experience as a performer, deep understanding as an educator, important new networks, and a passion for enabling our jazz community to become truly inclusive.

Jo’s appointment follows an extensive national and international recruitment process in which the quality of candidates was testament to the department’s position as a centre of outstanding jazz performance and training. I can’t wait to see Guildhall Jazz reach even greater heights under Jo’s leadership.”

Dr Jo Lawry, incoming Head of Jazz at Guildhall School, says: 

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2024 as Head of Jazz. To have the opportunity to teach the music I love, in an institution of such vibrancy and renown, is an incredibly exciting one. I can’t wait to work with the fantastic faculty, staff and students who make the School one-of-a-kind.”

Matt Skelton will remain in his capacity as Acting Head of Jazz until Dr Lawry’s arrival in 2024.


Photo: Dr Jo Lawry © Claudio Raschella