Estar Cohen is an award-winning vocalist, lyricist, composer, and educator based out of Ypsilanti, Michigan. In 2018, she received the ASCAP Foundation’s Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award for her piece, “Endings,” and made her debut at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island as bandleader. She was also featured as an up and coming artist on the acclaimed Vocal Mania series (run by Janis Siegel of Manhattan Transfer and Lauren Kinhan of The New York Voices) in New York City, opening for legendary Jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan. In 2019, Cohen’s piece “Only Once” was named an honorary mention in the NYYS First Music Jazz Series, the jury including Arturo O' Farril, Roxy Coss, Darcy James Argue, Pedro Giraudo, and Andy Clausen. Later that year, she was also selected to present at the International Society of Jazz Composers and Arrangers Symposium in Greeley for her piece “Knowing You.”
Cohen’s ensemble is dedicated to performing original music that reflects her exploration in poetry, composition, and the deep curiosity of the stories that define us. The project formed in 2011 and has since cultivated a rich, unique sound rooted in thoughtful songwriting and spirited improvisation. Cohen has released two albums with this ensemble (“Waiting For Dawn” 2014, “Live at Willis Sound” 2017) and has performed at festivals, recitals halls, concert houses, and clubs throughout the United States.
Cohen graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from the University of Toledo where she studied voice, improvisation, and composition with pianist Tad Weed, guitarist Jay Weik, and “father of vocalese” Jon Hendricks who has called her lyrics “beautiful.” Since her graduation, she has performed at notable venues and festivals including the Newport Jazz Festival, the Ann Arbor Edgefest, the Toledo Museum of Art, and The Ark - Ann Arbor, among many others.
Cohen is also an avid writer and published poet, penning lyrics for other artists in addition to her own music. As an educator, she has presented clinics in composition, improvisation, and voice at institutions including Albion College, Spring Arbor University, and ChiArts Chicago. Cohen has also taught songwriting with Michigan label Earthwork Music in partnership with the non-profit SEEDS, improvisational theater with Toledo, Ohio’s Young Artists at Work program, and music with Washtenaw County’s Youth Arts Alliance. She currently runs her own private music studio in Ann Arbor, MI.