Eliza Jane Berkon grew up in a musical home, where silence was rarely encountered. Her father, an operatic baritone, delighted guests with arias and show tunes, while her mother entertained on piano or guitar with a little Chopin or Bob Dylan. Eliza Jane put on performances of her own at home, starred in musicals at school, and was often a featured soloist in classical and jazz productions. After receiving the Bowman Memorial Music Scholarship, Berkon studied music at Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.
At Howard University, she explored the world of jazz. Berkon trained with acclaimed vocal jazz professor Connaitre Miller and learned how to apply a unique interpretation to best-loved standards. From there, she performed at Bohemian Caverns, HR-57 and the Smithsonian Jazz in the Garden Series as a soloist.
Berkon was selected to join Howard’s premier vocal jazz ensemble, Afro Blue, an award-winning group that has performed in some of the country’s top venues. After attaining her master’s degree in music from Howard, Berkon joined an iteration of Afro Blue that won a spot on NBC’s “The Sing-Off.” There, the group dazzled judges and took home fourth place. Now called Traces of Blue, that a cappella jazz group has brought Berkon to New York, Jamaica and even the Vice President’s Residence.
Yet Berkon could never love just one genre of music and continues to pursue a variety of styles. As far back as she can remember, she has been composing music. She formally studied composition at Howard and won first place in the Raymond T. Jackson Composition Competition for a piano piece. In 2013, Berkon studied pop song writing at New York University, learning about the intricacies of songwriting and the facets of the music industry. Today, she is hard at work on her first demo of original compositions and is collaborating with local songwriters. “The only thing better than singing songs,” she says, “is writing them.”
Eliza Jane Berkon has performed at a wide array of venues, including the Kennedy Center, Strathmore, Blues Alley and the B.B. King Blues Club. She has been seen in concert with Smokey Robinson, Geri Allen and Marvin Hamlisch and been interviewed on National Public Radio.