The Kennedy Center

Sharel Cassity


Rising star saxophonist, composer and bandleader Sharel Cassity (pronounced sha-REL) is quickly making waves on the New York and international jazz scenes with her fiery and soulful style of playing. A native of Yukon, Oklahoma, Sharel began playing saxophone at age 9. She attended the New School for Jazz &Contemporary Music followed by a full scholarship to the Juilliard School for her Master's degree. She has two albums out as a leader, and has appeared at venues such as the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the BlueNote Jazz Club, the Iridium, the Newport Jazz Festival and Dizzy's Club Coca Cola. Besides performing with her own band, Sharel is currently a sideman with some of the most renowned jazz artists today including Jimmy Heath, Nicholas Payton, Joe Chambers, Orrin Evans, the Dizzy Gillespie All Stars, Darcy James Argue and Diva. In addition, Sharel has performed alongside Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Cyrus Chestnut, James Moody, Antonio Hart, Natalie Cole, Lewis Nash, Sonny Fortune, Anat Cohen and Monty Alexander. Sharel has been voted "Rising Star Alto Saxophone" in the Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll from 2010-2013, was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 2011, and received a four star Downbeat rating for her sophomore release, "Relentless" (Jazz Legacy Productions). She recently toured Europe as part of the Dizzy Gillespie Afro Cuban Sextet and is working on her third album as leader.

Watch Past Performances

Video 8/11/2017: Sharel Cassity & Elektra

One of the most exciting alto talents to come to prominence in the past decade, Sharel Cassity has quickly built a sterling reputation working alongside a veritable “Who’s Who” of jazz. As her career has continued to flourish, projects under her leadership have grown, developed and diversified. With Elektra, Sharel blends a disparate set of genres—jazz, rock, soul, electronica, hip hop—into a creative, groove-driven sound for the audience. Drawing on such atypical composer choices as Björk and Alicia Keys, Sharel offers up a funky, eclectic and exciting mix of music.

Video 5/24/2014: Sharel Cassity

The New York City saxophonist brings her fiery, soulful style to a performance with her own quintet. Part of the 19th annual Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival.

Sharel Cassity