Cole Davis Announced As Third Annual BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship Winner

Published: 04.05.2017

Above: Pictured (L-R) are Deirdre Chadwick, president of The BMI Foundation; Cole Davis, recipient of the 2017 BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship; and Patrick Cook, BMI’s Director of Musical Theatre and Jazz, at the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters Awards Dinner.

Photo by: Yassine El Mansouri

The BMI Foundation has selected Cole Davis as the winner of this year’s BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship. The $5,000 award was presented to Davis at Broadcast Music Inc’s annual dinner and celebration of NEA Jazz Master Fellows at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, April 2nd, 2017. Davis, a bass player and jazz studies major at Manhattan School of Music, was chosen as the recipient by a panel of NEA Jazz Masters and flown to D.C. where he attended the dinner alongside award-winning and influential jazz musicians and composers, including one of his idols.

“Winning the BMI Future Jazz Masters Scholarship represents a promise to myself to become an original and uncompromising artist in jazz,” said Davis. “I am deeply honored to accept this award in the presence of this year's NEA Jazz Masters. It is particularly significant to me to accept an award with the distinction "Future Jazz Master" on a stage where Dave Holland, my personal hero as a bassist and composer, will accept the honor of NEA Jazz Master.”

The BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship is an annual competition for rising jazz stars pursuing an academic degree in jazz studies. The award was established by BMI in 2015 in honor of the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship, a lifetime achievement recognition program widely considered to be the highest honor in jazz music, and pays tribute to the artistic excellence of jazz pioneers while providing crucial support for an emerging artist. The scholarship is awarded by a panel of NEA Jazz Master judges based on evidence of talent and potential as a jazz performer and composer.

Born into a musical family and raised in New York City, Davis began his musical journey at just 2 years old when he sat down at the piano and played at perfect pitch with the car alarm blaring from the street outside. In addition to piano, he started to study as a vocalist in his early years. He even had the distinguished opportunity to sing on ten-time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin’s album Vocabularies.

After receiving a full scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in the areas of performance and composition, Davis headed to Cambridge to study under the direction of jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts at Harvard University. Upon returning to NYC to attend the Manhattan School of Music, he performed with soul and R&B singer Macy Gray at the famous City Winery and headlined at the Detroit Jazz Festival with his own band. Davis recently won the 2016 Ron Carter Bass Competition and currently teaches music, in addition to writing and performing.

About the BMI Foundation
The BMI Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1985 to encourage the creation, performance, and study of American music. The Foundation’s programs include competitive scholarships for songwriters and composers, operating grants for nonprofit arts presenters, and support for innovative music education initiatives in schools and communities across the country. For more information about the work of the Foundation, please visit our website at For exclusive news and content, follow @bmifoundation on Twitter at, on Instagram at and like “BMI Foundation” on Facebook at