Since 1984, Jayna has studied all forms of dance, from tap to jazz to ballet to hip hop. While still in high school, she began swing dancing in the fall of 1997 with her friend, Matt Cohen. In 1998, she enrolled at the George Washington University in Washington, DC and met Huy Pham, a Lindy Hop dancer from California. With the neo-swing movement and her passion for swing dancing, she became the head of GWU’s Jitterbugs Swing Society, which offered Lindy Hop lessons by some of the world’s most renowned instructors, produced the first ever Inter-Collegiate Swing Dance Competition, and hosted dances with up to 400 attendees. Jayna has also competed at the Virginia State Open and the American Lindy Hop Championship. Meanwhile, Jayna pursued her music degree and worked at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the special events department.
Jayna began singing jazz at the George Washington University in 1998. After receiving her BA in music with a concentration in classical voice in 2003, she returned to her hometown of New Orleans. As a swing and Charleston dancer and instructor, Jayna would frequent the jazz clubs dancing to every jazz band in the city, and would often sing a song or two.
In early 2005, Jayna and former dance partner Michael Norris formed NOLA Swing, an organization that promoted the teaching and love of swing dancing in New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, Michael moved away; however, Jayna stayed and has been blessed to work under the artistic direction of international instructor and world champion Nathalie Gomes. In addition, Jayna and her friend Ellen Boyer formed the professional Charleston dance troupe, The Frenchmen Street Flappers, and can be seen performing around town.
In recent years, Jayna studied jazz performance under the direction of famed New Orleans jazz musicians, and has branched out to perform at various jazz clubs around New Orleans and the US. She appreciates the generosity the music community has shown her and the support from her friends and family. Jayna owes everything to her mother, Carol Morgan, who passed away in April 2009, for encouraging her to fulfill her dreams and to pursue happiness.
“Jayna Morgan is the matriarch of the Frenchmen Street music scene. She sings in a classic older American style so popular among New Orleans musicians now… The Sazerac Sunrise Band adds to Jayna’s swagger, backing her up with their lively brand of traditional swing. We’re spoiled to have her play weekly gigs like many of her contemporaries.”
“Jayna Morgan puts the swing back on the dance floor”
~Deacon John Moore, legendary New Orleans vocalist, songwriter, bandleader, and guitarist
“It ain’t swingin’ if it ain’t Jayna singin’”
~George French, famed New Orleans blues and jazz bassist
“Jayna Morgan is one of the new, bright vocalists that is taking the New Orleans music scene by storm.”
~Banu Gibson, internationally renown jazz vocalist
“Jayna Morgan and the Sazerac Sunrise Jazz Band perform a classy and eminently danceable mix of vintage songs that members of the Greatest Generation will know by heart.”
~Ian McNulty, blogger, MyNewOrleans.com