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Lenora Z Helm Hammonds

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Associate Professor, Jazz Studies/Director of Vocal Jazz Ensembl
(919) 530-6653
(919) 530-7979
204 C. Ruth Edwards Music Hall


Director, NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Coordinator of Vocal Jazz activities
Associate Professor, BM. MM.
Tenured, Department of Music, Jazz Studies
Fulbright Senior Music Specialist
Franklin Humanities Institute Fellow (2017-18) for the John Hope Franklin-Mellon Foundation Duke-NCCU Digital Humanities Partnership

Coordinator, Teaching Artist Certificate Program; www.nccu.edu/teachingartist

Community Director, College of Liberal Arts; Coordinate activities, programs and events between NCCU College of Liberal Arts departments (Music, Theater, History, Art, English, Modern Foreign Language, Global Studies) and community based organizations.

Teaching Duties: Graduate and Undergraduate Jazz Studies Faculty

Also teach Undergraduate and Graduate Applied Voice, Graduate Jazz Vocal Combo, Graduate Jazz Vocal Ear Training, Jazz and Contemporary Vocal Music Online, and GEC courses: Composing, Arranging and Songwriting in a Global Network MUSL 1300 OL (online global classroom) and Songwriting (MSUL 4900 OL); Co-Author and Co-Instructor of course, Global Inequality, Global Structures, Culture and Power; (GLST 1000 02)

Lead Fellow of a 12-person team with three successful courses between schools in South Africa, Denmark and NCCU


Throughout her 30+-year span of musical achievements as a Jazz Vocal Musician specializing in Classic, Traditional standard jazz, Lenora (Zenzalai) Helm Hammonds has toured, recorded, and performed with renowned artists around the world. Her career as a vocal musician has encompassed time as a lyricist, guest artist, background singer, composer, and educator at North Carolina Central University. A 2018 inaugural Javett International Scholar in Jazz for University of Pretoria, during her time as a musician, Helm Hammonds has earned recognition as: a quarter-finalist for the GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year Award, a Salzburg Global Citizenship Fellow, a UNC Global Educator Fellow, a Fulbright Senior Music Specialist, and the former US Jazz Ambassador under the State Department and Kennedy Center. Leadership roles in jazz include, Vice President, Area Unit Leadership, North Carolina, for Jazz Education Network (JEN). Additionally, she is a member of the esteemed Jazz Vocal Advisory Board for Juilliard Jazz, Juilliard, NYC, and is vocal jazz faculty during summers for Brevard Jazz Institute, Brevard, NC.

Professionally known as Lenora Zenzalai Helm, Lenora Zenzalai (ZenZAYLay) Helm, she has also contributed to the music industry as a jazz clinician and vocal musicianship coach, with six solo recordings. Lenora?s CD, I Love Myself When I?m Laughing, was listed on Independent Ear?s ?30 recommended 2012 Record Releases.? Her seventh release, For the Love of Big Band is slated for release fall 2019.

A recognized force in music education, Lenora Helm Hammonds currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music and Jazz Studies Program for the College of Arts and Sciences at North Carolina University (NCCU). In this role, she developed and implemented curricula for graduate and undergraduate courses in vocal jazz, advises for graduate capstone projects, and mentors research projects for annual symposiums. Professor Helm Hammonds further contributes to her community as Director of NCCU?s Vocal Jazz Ensemble, compromising twelve to sixteen voices and rhythm section, and NCCU Resolution, a vocal subset group. Under her direction, NCCU?s Vocal Jazz Ensemble received the Best Choir 2018-19 award from HBCU Digest. At NCCU, one of Professor Helm Hammonds? most notable achievements was creating the inaugural Teaching Artist Certificate Program to train teaching artists in becoming global change agents. Her work has garnered her such accolades as ?voice of her generation? by Jazziz Magazine and receipt of the 2018 Who?s Who Lifetime Achievement Award.

She is a Duke University John Hope Franklin Fellow in Digital Humanities. With an expansive research background, Professor Hammonds has spent more than a decade exploring the intersection of jazz, global classrooms, intercultural competence, concurrent threads of vocal jazz pedagogy, and the application of digital humanities in the classroom. She has published over a dozen papers on these topics and regularly speaks in conferences around the world, including the Jazz Education Network Conference in Dallas, TX; Jazz Symposium at the University of Pretoria in South Africa; International Jazz Day in Oranjested, Aruba; and Chancellor?s International Symposium in Durham, NC.

Outside of the classroom, she has performed as a soloist, composer, and bandleader since 1983. Professor Hammonds has recorded and/or performed with such jazz greats as Donald Brown, Ron Carter, Andrew Hill, David Liebman, Stanley Cowell and others, headlined at venues including Jazz at Lincoln Center, Schomburg Center?s Women in Jazz Festival, JVC Jazz Festivals and Mellon Jazz Festival; and has toured with Freddie Jackson and Michael Franks. Along with appearing in St. Louis Woman with Dance Theatre of Harlem, she was a featured guest artist with the Durham Symphony and has held leading roles in theater productions including Aldonza in Man of La Mancha and in opera as Queen of the Night in Mozart?s The Magic Flute.

Her work as a composer is featured in the children?s play Indigo Blue: A Reimagining of the Pied Piper by playwright Howard Craft, and the film After Life, by filmmaker Lana Garland. Notable recognitions from Helm?s composing work include composer awards from Chamber Music America and Doris Duke? New Jazz Works, and the MacDowell Colony composer fellowship. Among her composing credits include features in several Black History Month campaigns on the ESPN Network.

Professor Helm Hammonds is currently in the final stages of her dissertation at Boston University, where she expects to receive a Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education in 2020. She currently holds a Master of Music in Jazz Performance from East Carolina University and a Bachelor of Music in Film Scoring and Vocal Performance from Berklee College of Music.

You can visit Lenora Zenzalai Helm on line at:



Research Interests

Jazz Vocal Performance Pedagogy
Intercultural Competence in Jazz Global Classrooms
Digital Humanities for Performing Arts Curricula
Performance Based Pedagogy
Teaching Artist Curriculum Development for Performing and Visual Artists

Jazz Vocal Musician, Lenora Zenzalai Helm Hammonds, (Assistant Professor, Jazz Studies/North Carolina Central University, United States) is a performer, composer (pka/Lenora Zenzalai Helm) and educator who has carved out a niche as an in-demand global inter-disciplinarian. Coalescing her decades of experience as a jazz performer with her academic experience as a jazz educator, Helm Hammonds intersects her interests as an intercultural competence researcher of jazz in globally networked classrooms. What results is Jazz-infused experiences with a down-to-earth approach to building bridges between international glocales.


MA East Carolina University 2010
BM Berklee College of Music 1982


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