Helen Sung

Helen Sung
Background information
BornHouston, Texas, U.S.
GenresJazz, classical
Years active1997 – present

Helen Sung is an American jazz pianist.

Music career

Sung is a native of Houston, Texas, and is of Chinese heritage.[1] She attended Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts,[2] and went on to receive undergraduate and master's degrees in classical piano performance at the University of Texas at Austin.[1] She first heard jazz music during that time and eventually switched her focus.[3] She went on to graduate from Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance.[4] Highlights of the two-year program include performing at the Kennedy Center and touring India and Thailand with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.[5]

Sung won the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition in 2007[6] and was a semifinalist in the Monk Institute Piano Competition in 1999. She appeared on the radio show Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland on NPR.[7]

She has performed at many festivals, including the Monterey Jazz Festival, Detroit International Jazz Festival, Aspen Institute Ideas Festival, Seattle's Earshot Festival, and the Mary Lou Williams Festival sponsored by the Kennedy Center.[8][9][10][11][12]

She has been featured at the Wigan International Jazz Festival, China's Jz Festival, India's "Jus' Jazz" Festival, and the Kalisz International Jazz Piano Festival in Poland.[13][14][15][16][17] She and her group NuGenerations toured southern Africa as jazz ambassadors.[18]

She has worked with Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, Ron Carter, Jon Faddis, Wayne Shorter, T. S. Monk, MacArthur Fellow Regina Carter, and Terri Lyne Carrington.[19][20][21][22][23][24]

Sung produced a jazz residency program for under-served students (through a Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation grant),[25] conducts workshops/master-classes, and joined the Berklee College of Music as an Associate Piano Professor in the Fall of 2011.[26] She has completed composition commissions for the West Chester University Poetry Conference,[27] arts organization JazzReach,[28] the artisanal North Coast Brewing Company,[29][30] and was selected as a 2010 NYC Spaces/Con Edison Composer-in-Residence at Flushing Town Hall.[31]


As leader

  • 2004 Push (Fresh Sound)
  • 2006 Helenistique (Fresh Sound)
  • 2007 Sungbird (After Albeniz) (Sunnyside)
  • 2010 Going Express (Sunnyside)
  • 2011 (Re)Conception (SteepleChase)
  • 2014 Anthem for a New Day (Concord Jazz)[32]
  • 2018 Sung with Words (Stricker Street)

As sidewoman


  1. "Sunnyside Records: Artists: Helen Sung". www.sunnysiderecords.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
  2. "Alumni Resources / Distinguished HISD Alumni". www.houstonisd.org. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
  3. "LondonJazz: INTERVIEW: Helen Sung". www.londonjazznews.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
  4. "Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz". monkinstitute.org. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
  5. "Jazz@Bucknell: Helen Sung Quintet". www.bucknell.edu. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
  6. Tamarkin, Jeff. "2013 Mary Lou Williams Festival". www.jazztimes.com.
  7. McPartland, Marian (August 8, 2006). "NPR Piano Jazz". www.npr.org.
  8. Espeland, Pamela (September 17, 2011). "'Round Midnight: A Late-Night Conversation With Helen Sung". www.npr.org.
  9. Marshall, Matt (September 12, 2011). "Detroit Jazz Festival: Detroit, MI September 2-5, 2011". www.allaboutjazz.com.
  10. "Aspen Ideas Festival". www.aspenideas.org. 2010.
  11. Kugiya, Hugo (October 24, 2009). "Earshot Jazz Festival: Week two". seattletimes.com. Archived from the original on August 12, 2014.
  12. "2013 Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival". kennedy-center.org. May 17, 2013.
  13. "The Helen Sung Quartet". wlct.org. July 12, 2014. Archived from the original on August 12, 2014.
  14. "The Latest From Helen Sung". jazziz.com. September 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-08-12.
  15. "Helen Sung To Perform At Jus' Jazz". Rolling Stone India. November 2, 2012. p. News & Updates.
  16. "Jus' Jazz 2013 - James & Wes Legacy Band + Helen Sung Trio". ncpamumbai.com. November 9, 2013.
  17. Sung, Helen (November 2009). "Helen Sung at Kalisz Jazz Festival: "H-Town"". youtube.com.
  18. "U.S. Department of State and Jazz at Lincoln Center Launch 2009 Concert Tour of The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad". US State Department. January 28, 2009.
  19. Park, Dale (October 9, 2000). "Clark Terry stirs it up at Sprague Hall". Yale Daily News.
  20. Terry, Clark. "Clark Terry and The Young Titans Of Jazz – Live At Marian's". clarkterry.com.
  21. Adler, David R. (March 2009). "Helen Sung and Ron Carter". allaboutjazz.com.
  22. Ratliff, Ben. "Critic's Notebook; Beside the Bay, Reimagining Jazz". Arts: Critic's Notebook: New York Times.
  23. Turner, Mark F. (14 November 2011). "Terri Lyne Carrington: The Mosaic Project". www.allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  24. St. Claire, Pat (February 10, 2012). "Terri Lyne Carrington on her Grammy-nominated album, 'The Mosaic Project'". CNN Radio: CNN.
  25. "Residency Partnership Program". chamber-music.org. 2006.
  26. Sung, Helen. "Berklee College of Music".
  27. Dix, Katrina (June 15, 2009). "A serious – not solemn – conversation about poetry". Daily Local News.
  28. "She Said/She Says the History and Status of Women in Jazz". www.jazzreach.org.
  29. Lockwood, Wayne (February 12, 2014). "Pianist Helen Sung's special brew is on tap at the Jazz Standard". New York Daily News.
  30. Crocker, Ronnie (February 11, 2014). "Donation of jazzy-brew proceeds is music to the ears". Food & Cooking: Houston Chronicle.
  31. "Roster of Composers-in-Residence". Exploring the Metropolis, Inc.
  32. "Helen Sung | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  33. "Helen Sung | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
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