Ashlee Varner

Associate Professor
Affiliated Departments
Faculty Bio E-Mail

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Ashlee Varner is a pianist and vocalist from Pennsylvania. She has toured throughout the world with numerous groups and is best known for her unique vocal arrangements. In 2014, she won DownBeat magazine’s award for Best Graduate College Jazz Vocal Soloist. Her latest recording work is featured on Kenneth Brown’s album, 3 Down, produced by Donald Brown and featuring Jeremy Pelt on trumpet and Greg Tardy on sax. The album has received international radio play (France, England, and the United States) and appeared at #27 in Jazz Week’s Top 50 chart.

Career Highlights
  • Performance with Kenneth Brown's So What Band
  • Background vocalist for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra
  • Recording include 3 Down by Kenneth Brown
  • Studied with Melissa Malde, author of What Every Singer Needs to Know About the Body and Donald Brown (former pianist for Art Blakey, producer for Kenny Garrett)
  • Clinician/adjudicator for Denver School of the Arts, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Metropolitan State University of Denver's Choral Celebration, Monterey Jazz Festival Summer Camp, and Greeley Jazz Festival
  • DownBeat magazine's Best Graduate College Jazz Vocalist
  • DownBeat magazine's Best Graduate College Large Ensemble
  • Departmental award for Instrumental Music, Lee University
  • B.M.E., Lee University, music education
  • B.S., Lee University, music business
  • M.M., University of Tennessee in Knoxville, jazz studies
  • D.A., University of Northern Colorado, jazz studies, coursework complete
In Their Own Words

"I want my students to leave my classes and lessons with concrete knowledge of the material and measurable improvement. I want them to be able to apply what they learn in my class to real-life situations and have fun throughout the process of learning. I hope that they leave my classroom as well-rounded, marketable musicians who feel creatively inspired and confidently prepared for any professional situation so that they can reach their full potential and create a legacy of their own."

"As an educator and musician, I have dedicated my career to developing my abilities in a variety of fields, including classical, jazz, and contemporary voice and piano; arranging; jazz history; improvisation; theory; and jazz ensemble direction. My diverse experiences have enabled me to develop curriculum that is tailored to each individual student, whether they want to self-accompany, promote and market themselves as artists, or be able to improvise like an instrumentalist with keys."