Best Arts Ambassador - 2011
Pianist Jade Simmons has added yet another credit to her already impressive résumé — international arts ambassador. A first runner-up at the Miss America competition in 2000 with a masters degree from Rice University, Simmons long ago proved that she is beautiful and smart. A recording artist for E1 (formerly Koch Classics) and one of only a handful of female African-American concert pianists, she is unquestionably very talented. And as the founder of the Impulse Artists Series, she is a generous mentor and guide to young, emerging musicians from around the world. In 2009, Simmons hosted the first-ever Webcast for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; this June she went off to Russia for two weeks to host the Webcast for the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. She represented the United States before an international audience of an estimated million-plus viewers (and looked gorgeous while she did it). Simmons has become more than an advocate for Houston's arts scene; she's our arts ambassador to the world.