The Stanley Kay Scholarship

“If you LOVE [drumming] you will definitely succeed as a player. If you LIKE it, you should do something else!”
— Stanley Kay

About Stanley KayAbout the Stanley Kay ScholarshipDonate to the Stanley Kay Scholarship FundApply for the Stanley Kay ScholarshipMeet past winners

About Stanley Kay

Stanley Kay is well known for his on-going stint as manager of the Buddy Rich Band and also for drumming in Buddy’s stead. Throughout the 1940s, 50s, & 60s Stanley played for musical greats Patti Paige, Frankie Laine and Josephine Baker. He went on to conduct and create acts for show biz icons Maurice and Gregory Hines (“Hines, Hines and Dad”) and actress Michele Lee. In the 1980s he became Entertainment Director for The New York Yankees and in 1992 founded the world-renowned DIVA Jazz Orchestra. Stanley remained DIVA’s creative force and CEO until his passing in June, 2010.

About the Stanley Kay Scholarship

DIVA honors the musical legacy, integrity, creativity and excellence of Stanley Kay through a scholarship, offering an opportunity for a seriously swingin’ drummer between the ages of 12—22 to attend COTA CampJazz from June 24-June 30, 2018.

*Scholarship award covers tuition, room and board. Transportation and any other additional expenses are the responsibility of the scholarship recipient.

COTA Camp Jazz embraces all instrumental and vocal learners age 12 and up. Applicants can apply at the beginner, intermediate, or advanced level. Every day, campers will receive focused instruction as they rehearse in combos and study improvisation, theory, ear-training, history and more. Campers also have the option to participate in jam sessions, take private lessons, and choose from a variety of special electives such as composition, arranging, technology, and music business.Throughout the week, our world-class faculty and special guests will be presenting master classes and offering in-depth Q & A’s on “all things jazz.” Camp Jazz Culminates on Saturday with each combo recording at the renowned Red Rock Recording Studio, followed on Sunday by our “COTA Camp Jazz Presents” performance, featuring all camp combos and special guests.

Click here for a donation form to print and send with your check or money order. Contributions may be sent to The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, 1 River Place, Suite 817, New York, NY, 10036. Checks should be made out to “The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Ltd.” with “SK Scholarship” indicated in the memo. Donations to the Stanley Kay Scholarship Fund are not tax-deductible.Or make your donation via PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button:

Apply for the Stanley Kay Scholarship


Applicants must be between the ages of 12 and 22 on June 24, 2018.

Include the following:

1.) A cover letter expressing WHY this opportunity would make a difference in the applicant’s musical life. Be sure to include up-do-date contact information in the form of postal and email addresses.

2.) A CD, DVD, mp3, or link to video of the applicant’s drumming. Preferred if tracks are edited to include only the melody/head, any shout-type choruses, and solos/trading. If full-length tracks are submitted, applicant should include time cues indicating where on each track the shout chorus and soloing can be found. Three tracks are required, one selection in each of these styles:

a.) Medium or up-tempo swing
b.) Ballad or slow swing
c.) Either Afro-Cuban (mambo, songo, cha-cha, etc.) or Brazilian (samba, bossa-nova, baiao, etc.)

3.) A letter of recommendation from a music teacher (private teacher, band director, regional ensemble conductor, etc.).


Cover letter, recording/links, and recommendation letter must be submitted together. Applications can be emailed to Sherrie Maricle with “SK Scholarship” in the subject line. Hard-copy packets may be sent to The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, 1 River Place, Suite 817, New York, NY 10036, with “SK Scholarship” written on the envelope flap.

CDs, DVDs, and other application materials cannot be returned.

Deadline: Applications for 2018 will be accepted starting March 5, 2018 and must be postmarked no later than May 18, 2018

Past winners

Maria Marmarou (2017)

Maria Marmarou, 17, is a junior at Kutztown Area Senior High School. She studies drum set, timpani, and mallets with Dr. Willis Rapp.

She has participated in many jazz festivals with Kutztown’s jazz band and has won various awards. She was in the Steel Stacks All-star jazz band and performed at Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA. Maria was also in the COTA Cats, playing at the COTA jazz festival in the Poconos. She was selected as the drummer for the Berks County jazz band, District 10 jazz band, and the 2017 PMEA All-State vocal jazz group. Within these groups she has worked with Dr. Neil Wetzel, Dave Kenney, Dr. William Stowman, Terell Stafford, John Riley and Sherrie Maricle. She has performed marimba solos for the Reading Musical Foundation and received many audition-based scholarships from them.

Maria is also on the cross country and track team at Kutztown High School and enjoys playing ultimate Frisbee.

Nick Kepron (2015, 2016)

NICK kepron sk scholarship 2015 copyNick Kepron is thrilled to be a recipient of the 2015 and 2016 Stanley Kay Scholarship. Nick, 16, is a drummer, abstract artist, composer and bandleader. An Honors student entering his Junior year at Cherry Hill High School East in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, he has been the drummer, co-leader and co-director of “Inspiration East,” a 17-piece funk and fusion band at his school. For the past two years, he has been the drummer for the award-winning CHE Jazz Lab Band, and played the Rowan Jazz Festival and Deptford Jazz Festival in 2015. Also during the past two years, he has been a selected member of the Creative Music Program at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, under the direction of Anthony Tidd and Brent White, and has played numerous concerts with the CMP at the Kimmel Center, Chris’s Jazz Cafe as part of Philadelphia’s Center City Jazz Festival 2015, the Brad Schoener Music Festival, “Sittin’ In” with Orin Evans at the Innovation Studio at Kimmel, and the Cheltenham Music Festival 2015.

In 2014-15, he was the drummer for Rowan University’s Honors Jazz Band. Since 2014, Nick has played weekly in a sextet led by Philly sax legend Larry McKenna. From a very young age, Nick showed an uncanny passion for music, jazz, and percussion. Ever since he got his first drum set at the age of 8, he has been exploring and playing jazz, funk, R&B, rock, fusion, Latin, hip-hop and progressive metal. He has enjoyed gigging with the best young musicians in South Jersey and Philly, playing coffeehouses, festivals and jazz clubs.

In recent years, he has begun exploring composition and music production, and, to date, has composed more than fifty songs, most of which are part of an instrumental progressive metal solo album he has been working on as well as a trip-hop jazz ensemble project.

He had the great privilege of studying with many masters of percussion over the past few years, including Dennis Chambers, Giovanni Hidalgo, Horacio Hernandez, Zoro, Ocie Davis, Chris Beck and DIVA big band leader Sherrie Maricle. His musical influences include Tony Williams, Eric Harland, Chris Dave, Elvin Jones, Philly Jo Jones and Mike Mitchell.

Last year, he combined his music and art by hand-painting one of his drum sets. He is preparing for his first two Art Shows later in the summer in New Jersey and Montreal.

Nick’s other interests include yoga, meditation, cooking, reading jazz history, and teaching music. He enjoys jamming and composing with his brother Ben who plays jazz piano. 

Nick attended the New York Summer Music Festival in 2015 and the Daniel Glass New York Jazz Intensive in 2016.

Maya Stepansky (2015)

Maya StepanskyMaya Stepansky is greatly honored to receive the 2015 Stanley Kay Scholarship and attend the NYSMF.

A 10th grade student at Montclair High School, Maya’s passion for drumming took off at age 9 when she was selected as drum majorette for Hillside School’s Drums of Thunder, a nationally-touring precision drum corp for professional sports and civic events. Early studies with Chuck Speicher and John Castiglione led to a growing love for jazz and an introduction to big band playing through the JazzHouseKids program in ensembles led by jazz masters Ed Palermo and Oscar Perez, with performances at Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center and Montclair Jazz Festival.  She subsequently attended the Juilliard Jazz Summer Workshop, Litchfield Jazz Camp and NJPAC’s All-Female Jazz Residency, where she was inspired by exposure to such drum legends as Carl Allen and Terri Lyne Carrington. In 2013, she was accepted to NJPAC’s Jazz for Teens Program and honored to take part in a faculty-student combo for 3 special NJPAC concert events with faculty artists Lauren Sevian and Jazzmeia Horn. She was also thrilled to perform original compositions by legendary saxophonist Oliver Lake with the composer himself in a special jazz education concert at the Renaissance School, and recently served as drummer for several MHS musicals (“Hair,” “Rockin’ Out”).

An MHS honor student, NJ state champion rower and MHS Crew Team varsity letter recipient, Maya is active in MHS Math League, National Latin Honor Society, and co-president of the National Art Honor Society. Her music and film collaborations with her brother Jeremy have received 2 awards in the Montclair Film Festival’s annual youth filmmaking competition and led to the creation of a full-length CD, Notes From Home, which raised over $5000 for homeless aid organizations. With Jeremy, her rock/jazz band, The Frontiers, were most recently featured guest performers at a special event sponsored by the International Rescue Committee.

I just wanted to thank you once again for the Stanley Kay scholarship and making it possible for me to come to the amazing New York Summer Music Festival. It was such a fantastic and unforgettable experience in every way–the program itself, my fellow students, the beautiful feeling of being surrounded by so many true music lovers of all genres, the Big Band experience, and the great faculty  (especially the women drummers!). I also wanted to thank you for being such a tremendous band leader and mentor to me–I learned so much under your direction, which I know has already had a profound impact on my playing. My lesson with you was extremely helpful and I was hoping to follow-up on your generous offer of more—the 2nd week got so unexpectedly filled up with extra preparations/rehearsals for the final concerts that I missed out on the chance to meet with you individually again, but hope it will be okay if I contact you in the future for some extra private lessons during the year ahead. You also mentioned that Diva is playing at Lincoln Center this coming year, which I’m really looking forward to attending!

Again, I am so grateful to you and NYSMF! Have a great rest-of-summer!

Liuba Miranosava (2014)

Stanley Kay Scholarship winner Liuba Moranosava

Bob Weidner
(ESU Photographer/Photo Archivist)

Liuba Miranosava is an honor roll student at Stroudsburg High School. She is a member of the Pocono Youth Orchestra and the Stroudsburg Marching Band. Liuba’s favorite music is indie, alternative, and classic rock. J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Jack London are among her favorite authors. Her favorite books are Gone with the Wind, White Fang, Wuthering Heights, and the Harry Potter series. Liuba is also a member of the Concert Band, and the swim team. Honors include the Achievement Academy and Citizenship Award. Her hobbies are cooking, reading, and swimming. In the future, Liuba plans to explore the medical field, anthropology, and psychiatry.

Merlin Joseph, Jr. (2013)

Merlin Joseph, Jr.Merlin Joseph, Jr. is a born musician. Merlin started playing drums at age 2, when his Little Tike drum was his favorite toy. He has since grown to become a master of percussion instruments with a passion for the drum set and jazz music. Merlin also plays the piano and trumpet.

Merlin is from Binghamton, NY, where he is a rising senior at Binghamton High School and a music student of Mr. Joel Smales and Chris Adams. Merlin’s music resume is robust, as he is a member of the six band ensembles at Binghamton High School offers.

As a result of his participation in the Steel Drum Band, Merlin has been fortunate to travel throughout the Northeast to perform. Some of his most noted performances include on-stage appearances in Akron, Ohio in November 2012 with the legendary Harry Belafonte, and performing in New York City aboard the USS Intrepid.

Merlin has also been honored with several other awards including being selected to perform in the Broome County Music Educators Association (BCMEA) music festival two years in a row, performing with the Area- All State Orchestra Symphony for percussion, and the Teen Jazz Project.

In 2013, Merlin performed three level VI All-State auditions and garnered a score of 100% on his Jazz Drum Set solo. He looks forward to majoring in percussion performance in college. His drumming mentors are Bernie Dresel, Buddy Rich, Steve Gadd, and Billy Hart.

Merlin feels honored and privileged to have won the Stanley Kay scholarship. He would like to thank the scholarship committee, his teachers, mentors, family and friends for giving him motivation, confidence, and support.

Fred Griggs (2012)

Fred GriggsFred Griggs is a jazz drummer from Central Pennsylvania. He is a current student of Paul Gallello, Dave Lazorcik, and Sherrie Maricle of The DIVA Jazz Orchestra. Other mentors include Steve Rudolph, Steve Meashey, Jim Wood, Ron Waters, and Jonathan Ragonese. Highlights of his young career include performing at the PMEA District 7 Jazz, Concert Band, and Orchestra Festivals. Fred has also had the great honor of performing with the 2012 PMEA All-State Jazz Band.

Fred also serves as a Student Representative on the Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz Board of Directors. As a rising senior, Fred is honored to have been selected for the Stanley Kay Swingin’ Big Band Scholarship.

Isabelle DeLeon (2011)

Isabelle DeLeonThe winner of the inaugural Stanley Kay Scholarship award is Isabelle DeLeon. “March to the tempo of your own beat” is her motto, and it sums up her approach to music and life. Learning piano at the age of 4 and drums at the age of 7, she has spent all her life playing music but also finds time to pursue her many other interests. A rising junior at the University of Maryland, she is studying both jazz drum performance and pre-medicine, is a distinguished College Park Scholar, and a Dean’s List student as well. One of the few undergraduates in UMD’s top jazz ensemble, she attributes much of her growth to the mentoring of her teacher Chuck Redd, with whom she has also had the privilege to perform around the DC area.

In April 2011, she was a featured performer with the Jen Krupa – Leigh Pilzer Quintet at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History for a celebration of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm and the launching of Jazz Appreciation Month. In 2008 she won the Washington Post Music and Dance Scholarship Award for her performance on drums. Isabelle is thrilled to add the Stanley Kay Scholarship to her list of awards she’s earned.

Isabelle manages to practice and perform regularly with her family band, Ivy Rose, where she is one of the contributing songwriters and arrangers, backup vocalist, and the drummer and recording pianist. Continually gaining prominence in the DC music scene, they had the honor to open for Weezer and Ben Folds last year and have played as far as Toronto, Ontario, and New York City.

Isabelle is thrilled to have just won the Stanley Kay Scholarship to attend the New York Summer Festival this July, is thankful to God, her family, teachers and friends who have supported her along the way, and is grateful for all the privileges she has had.