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Jazz talent at Glacier Peak making her mark

Mairead Rising

SNOHOMISH — “At 9 years old, I was busking on a street corner,” said Mairead Rising, who has risen from that humble start to an audition at Seattle’s famed Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley on March 19.
The 17-year-old Glacier Peak High School student has performed on many stages already, honing her craft and earning a spot at the 14th Annual Sister City Female Jazz Vocalist Audition.
Six high school students will compete at the event for a trip to Seattle’s international sister city, Kobe, Japan. The winner will fly to Japan to participate in the Kobe Shinkaichi Jazz Queen
Vocalist Contest on May 12.
Rising’s love for performing jazz began with “At Last” by the legendary Etta James, but her love of music began much earlier with her musician parents: “I play flute and sing and my husband is a rock guitarist,” said mom Michelle Rising.
“I’ve known her since she was a baby and she played at different farmers markets” and the guitar was bigger than her, said family friend Ginger Clay Bernauer.
Rising’s passion for jazz inspired her to take up the alto saxophone in middle school. She soon switched to the tenor saxophone and jazz vocals, both of which she’s practiced to acclaim during her four years at Glacier Peak.
Jazz Alley isn’t Rising’s only upcoming competition; she’ll be representing her school at the Washington Music Educators Association Solo and Ensemble Contest in Ellensburg in April.
Rising loves performing with her school’s jazz ensemble. “It’s really liberating, being able to perform with other musicians and play off of each other. It’s super fun …. being with each other, free spirited (and) spontaneous,” Rising said.
She also enjoyed a guest DJ spot last March on radio station 88.5 KNKX-FM’s “Evening Jazz.”
She’s worked diligently for her skills. Daily practice, vocal lessons, saxophone lessons, and as if that was not enough, rehearsals for Glacier Peak’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” are all part of her routine.
She’s a terrific musician and well qualified,” said Tadd Morris, Glacier Peak’s band instructor.
Rising cites many influences including her parents and music teachers and tutors, as well as some famous jazz singers.
“Over the years I’ve listened to Etta (James) and learned to scat from that and get so much inspiration from it,” Rising said.
Rising has advice for aspiring young musicians seeking inspiration, too.
“They should not be afraid of jazz, it’s really complex but it’s also great to listen to … Listen, listen, listen to as many jazz performers as you can and find the people that inspire you and try to mimic them … and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!”
As for her upcoming audition, Rising says she is not too nervous. She has been performing so long already that she these days it just feels natural, she said.
The Sister City Female Jazz Vocalist Audition takes place Monday, March 19 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are available at


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