Lithuanian Grammy Winner


On Sunday, February 4, at the 66th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, jazz vocalist Nicole Zuraitis won the golden gramophone trophy for her album “How Love Begins.”

Zuraitis began to sing jazz with a local community college big band after being encouraged by her high school music director. She also frequently attended Litchfield Jazz Camp, which she attributes to her early interest in jazz. Zuraitis studied classical voice at New York University. After a brief period performing opera professionally after graduation, she moved back to New York City to pursue songwriting and jazz in 2009.

She is described as a powerhouse vocalist, New York-based bandleader and winner of the 2021 American Traditions Vocal Competition Gold Medal. It is said that Nicole’s bold, versatile voice possesses a special combination of soothing warmth, familiar authenticity, and raw grit that is reinventing the world’s conception of what it means to be a jazz artist. “She infuses elements of multiple genres and approaches into her artistry, refusing to limit herself to any one corner of the music business.” She is known for her effervescent personality, boundless enthusiasm, and relentless drive. She loves engaging with her audiences and sharing the joy that music brings to all people.

Nicole is the premier vocalist for both the Birdland Big Band and the Dan Pugach Nonet. Nicole also assembled an all-star, woman-identifying touring ensemble, Generations Of Her: Women Songwriters and Lyricists of the Last 100 Years, which played to sold-out houses in NYC and around the country.

In 2019, Nicole was nominated for a Grammy alongside her husband, renowned drummer and bandleader Dan Pugach, for their arrangement and performance of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” In recognition of her talents, Nicole has won other awards, including the New York City Songwriting Competition Coffee Music Project (2016), the Herb Alpert ASCAP Young Composer Award (2014), and the Gold Medal, Ben Tucker Jazz Award, People’s Choice, and Johnny Mercer Award in the National American Traditions Vocal Competition. More information is available on her website

As a recording artist, Nicole has released five albums as leader, and her sixth album How Love Begins, co-produced with eight-time GRAMMY-winner Christian McBride, was released in July, 2023. 

Her ancestors – grandfather Danielius Zuraitis and his parents – emigrated to the United States in 1909. She has not forgotten her Lithuanian roots and loves to participate in various events organized by Lithuanians in the USA. She has also performed in Lithuania.