Shannon Gunn


Department of Music

Contact Info

Shannon Gunn is the Director of the NOVA Nighthawks Jazz Ensemble, Adjunct Instructor of Jazz Trombone at VCU, and an in-demand freelance jazz trombonist. As a musician, she actively uses her music for social justice causes. In 2015 she co-founded, with local non-profit CapitalBop, the Jazz and Freedom Festival, which has in turn raised funds and support for non-profits such as Empower DC, Black Lives Matter DMV, WPFW-FM, and ICE Out of DC. She is the Artistic/Executive Director of non-profit Jazz4Justice, which creates collaborative partnerships between the legal community and music community to raise funds for Legal Aid and jazz studies. In 2019, she founded Jazz Girls Day DC to empower young women to pursue jazz without boundaries from gender.

As a band leader, she has performed at the DC Jazz Festival, the Kennedy Center, Castleton Theatre House, Washington Women in Jazz Festival, Takoma Park Jazz Festival, National Jazz Workshop, Bohemian Caverns, Mid Atlantic Jazz Fest, Levine Jazz Fest, Blues Alley, Reunion Music Society, at various TV stations such as DCTV, CBS Morning Show in Richmond, WJLA ABC in DC, and many other venues across DC, Maryland, and Virginia. As a sideperson, she has performed with the Fran Vielma Jazz Orchestra, Vaughn Ambrose, Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, DIVA! Jazz Orchestra, American Festival Pops Orchestra, and toured with Monica Herzig.

She has recorded, mixed, mastered, and produced six albums and self-published her textbook “Introduction to the Recording Arts” on Amazon. She released “What it Takes” in 2017 with a powerhouse all women jazz ensemble, and then “Gunn’s Ablazin” in 2019 with her quintet and organ trio. “Both very artistic and also providing social commentary, the incredible talent present makes it quite easy to see why Gunn was voted Best D.C, Trombonist in two separate years. Similarly, it wouldn’t surprise me if Gunn’s Ablazin’ finds itself being one of the best jazz albums this year.” (From the Take Effect Reviews Blog, 2019) Mike Greenblat’s Rant N’ Roll blog states “this popular Washington D.C. jazzer isn’t afraid to take on a less likable D.C. denizen, the President, as her protest songs, “Babes In Cages Are Not OK” and “Orange Noise” attest. She’s so cool.” She recently premiered her “Immigration Suite” for strings, bass clarinet synth and rhythm section, and is currently working on her newest suite, “5 Questions” for chamber jazz ensemble.

Hailed by the Washington City Paper as “D.C.’s Best Trombonist 2015” and the DistrictNow Blog as “Best Trombonist 2017,” she is known for her exceptional tone and her grandiose project-du-jour. She has a Bachelor of Music Industry from James Madison University, Certificate to Teach K-12 music from Michigan State University, Masters in Jazz Studies from Mason, and a second Masters in Education from Mason. Shannon plays a vintage Bach 16M New York model with lightweight slide and is endorsed by Conn Selmer. She resides in Virginia with her husband, Timothy.