Helen Sung

Helen Sung


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Photo of Me

Wardrobe by Vivienne Tam, Photo by Kat Villacorta


Helen Sung is an acclaimed jazz pianist and composer, and a 
2021 Guggenheim Fellow. A native of Houston, Texas, and graduate of its High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), she eschewed her classical piano upbringing after a jazz epiphany during undergraduate studies at UT Austin. Helen went on to become part of the inaugural class of the Thelonious Monk Institute (now the Herbie Hancock Institute) at the New England Conservatory of Music. Her recent releases Sung With Words (Stricker Street), a collaborative project with renowned poet Dana Gioia, and Anthem For A New Day (Concord Jazz) topped the jazz charts. Quartet+ (Sunnyside Records), her latest release, followed suit, garnering a 4.5 star DownBeat review and inclusion in its "Best of 2021 Albums" list and a JazzTimes cover story (January 2022 issue). Helen and her band have performed at major American festivals and venues including Newport, Monterey, Disney Hall, SFJAZZ, and Carnegie Hall. Internationally, her “NuGenerations" Project toured southern Africa as a U.S. State Department Jazz Ambassador, and recent engagements include debuts at the London Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai, Blue Note Beijing, and the Sydney International Women's Jazz Festival. She has performed with such luminaries as the late Clark Terry, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Wynton Marsalis (who named her as one of his "Who's Got Next: Jazz Musicians to Watch!"), MacArthur Fellow Regina Carter, and Grammy-winning artists including Terri Lyne Carrington, Cecile McLorin Salvant, and the Mingus Big Band. Helen is a Steinway Artist and has served on the jazz faculties at Berklee College of Music, the Juilliard School, and Columbia University, where she also was the inaugural jazz artist-in-residence at Columbia's prestigious Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

Download Complete Biography >>


Jazz Community

As a classical-turned-jazz artist, one of the things I have come to love the most about this American art form is its generous, communal heart: this is music made together, played together, and enjoyed together. Tenor legend Jimmy Heath told me (during my studies at the then Monk Institute) the jazz bandstand exemplified true democracy, where the musicians each had a role to play, everyone got a chance to shine and have their say, but in the end they create something greater together than they could on their own. After the prolonged isolation of the pandemic, getting to play (and hang!) with beloved colleagues and tour again has been a joy and revelation: as Maestro Heath taught me, we need one another. May we take this message out into the jazz venues of our nation, and the world. Details about upcoming shows here.

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New Release!
Helen Sung Quartet With Special Guest Harlem Quartet

Helen Sung Quartet With The Special Guests Harlem Quartet

Releases as Leader:

Helen Sung with Marquis Hill, Everybody's Waltz
Sung with Words
Anthem for a New Day
Going Express
Sung Bird

Purchase all at Helen Sung Store >>

As a Support Player:

Various artists
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra & Wynton Marsalis
Handful of Keys
Frank Lacy & Mingus Big Band
Mingus Sings
Marcus Printup
Dara Tucker
The Sun Season
Fabio Gouvea
Greg Tardy
Iris Ornig
No Restrictions
Ronnie Cuber
Steeplechase (2011)
Lonnie Plaxico
Ancestral Devotion (2009)
Brother Thelonious Quintet
Brother Thelonious (2009)
Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion
Live at the Zinc Bar (2008)
Metta Quintet
Subway Songs (2006)
Greg Tardy
The Truth (2005)
Clark Terry & The Young Titans of Jazz
Live at Marian's Jazzroom (2005)
Ester Andujar - Celebrating Cole Porter
Ester Andujar
Celebrating Cole Porter (2005)
Tom McIntosh - With Malice Toward None
Tom McIntosh
With Malice Toward None
IPO Recordings (2004)
Lonnie Plaxico - Melange
Lonnie Plaxico
Blue Note Records (2001)
Kristin Lomholt
To Bring Him Here
(Pianist & Co-producer, 2000)
Patrice Williamson - My Shining Hour
Patrice Williamson
My Shining Hour
(Pianist & Arranger, 1999)
Thelonious Monk Institute
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at NEC
Volume One (1997)


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