By Howard Monroe

WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) — The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival is underway in Wilmington. The event continues through Saturday on Rodney Square. It takes a lot of work to get to this stage. Some young performers just underwent a two-week residency program in Wilmington. This program is designed to bring talented musicians together and allow them to shine together.

You don’t get to this stage by accident, and this program is designed to bring talented musicians together and allow them to shine together.

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“I honestly, as a vocalist I didn’t think I would fit in,” vocalist Maya Belardo said.

Maya is not only fitting in, but she’s also standing out.

The Wilmington native and scat singer is one of 13 young musicians taking part in the Boysie Lowery Living Jazz Residency.

“I just go into another world,” Maya said. “I don’t know how to explain it.”

Andrew Wilcox is a pianist from Connecticut. He graduated from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford.

“It’s a freeing feeling to be able to express yourself on the instrument in a way that words cannot describe,” Wilcox said.

This is the seventh year of the program. These young jazz musicians are between the ages of 17 and 25 and come from across the United States and from as far away as Russia.

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“I would say these are some of the best young musicians in the world,” Boysie Lowery Living Jazz Residency Program Director Jonathan Whitney said. “They come here and they’re focused and ready to work. We tell them on their first day, it’s not camp, it’s a residency.”

Whitney is the founder of the program.

On this day, they recorded music at a local jazz radio station, WRTI. During the two-week-long residency, they compose music from scratch and prepare to perform it at the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival.

“We’re always trading ideas with each other,” Wilcox said. “We have this excited energy as we’re trying out new things and inspiring each other.”

“They come here and have a chance to form their voice and then run and that’s really what we want to do,” Whitney said.

Maya is sort of running already. She performed at the Kimmel Center a few weeks ago, and she’s changing her tune as far as fitting in.

“I realized I am a musician too,” Maya said. “Being a vocalist, you’re a musician.”

That program is fully funded and free for the musicians to attend.

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Whitney says he has former students performing in New York City and Europe.