To examine the degree to which attention and working memory tasks predict performance in complex auditory environments, 51 participants (21-77 yrs) with a range of pure-tone hearing thresholds completed both an auditory/visual working memory (WM) experiment and a competing speech task. WM tested auditory and visual memory both in a single-modality list recall task and in dual-modality selective and divided attention span tasks. The competing speech task used three closed-set sentences presented simultaneously via earphones using a Virtual Spatial Array, such that the target sentence was always at 0° azimuth angle and the maskers were either colocated or positioned at +-45°. Each condition was tested four times. WM performance under conditions of selective and divided attention was correlated with speech performance independently of age and hearing loss. These results suggest that the capacity to allocate attentional resources to sensory stimuli can help explain some of the variance in the ability to understand speech in complex acoustical environments.