Award-winning vocal ensemble raises money

Nationally recognized music group prepares for concerts, fundraisers


JAZZ-ology sings during a fundraising event in front of Peet’s Coffee on 4th Street in Berkeley on Saturday. The group is fundraising toward new sound equipment, funds for department trip expenses and ts yearly CD production.

By Kit Duckworth, Staff Writer

Standing outside M-116, visitors hear the soft, melodic blend of voices through the door as music students finish up their rehearsal.

It’s late afternoon and the dark golden sunlight mixed with the singing creates a peaceful environment.

Inside the vocal room, students bustle about as they have places to be. Their energy is high from a successful rehearsal. Students talk and laugh as they gather around and lean on a piano in the middle of the room. Everyone seems at ease.

This is the image of JAZZ-ology and the JazzaNova Chamber Choir as they put in hard work doing what they love. All the groups overlap with each other, containing a majority of students from the School of Applied Commercial Music on campus.

They are known as the Contra Costa Singers.

“A lot of people don’t know we have a music department,” music major CiCi Taylor said. She has been taking music classes at Contra Costa College since 2010. “We have voice classes, piano classes, private lessons for music students and a recording studio.”

She said all these options are available to beginning, intermediate or advanced students, so there is something for everyone.

The Contra Costa College music groups were fundraising from Sept. 13 through October 1 through Eventbrite. The money raised will go toward sound equipment, hotel expenses during their trips and a CD produced every other year.

The music department is 80 percent self-funded, so fundraisers like these are vital.

“We’re trying to go to New Orleans in the spring of 2020 and France in the summer of 2019,” said the aptly named Natasha Singer, another music student and member of JAZZ-ology.

JAZZ-ology is looking to go to France, while the CCC Chamber Choir is going to perform in New Orleans. When asked how much they were looking to raise, Taylor responded half-jokingly, “As much as possible.”

The initial goal to be raised by the department was $2,500 by Saturday.

The troupe has won national music awards, as well as given prestigious performances. In April they performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Singer performed, along with the other members of JAZZ-ology, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Peet’s Coffee on 4th Street in Berkeley Saturday.

JAZZ-ology will be performing at the Chocolate and Champagne event, which is a fundraiser for the culinary arts department program on Oct. 13 in the Aqua Terra Grill. Other upcoming events for the group include the Cuesta Vocal Jazz Festival in Morro Bay, California on Nov. 3, the City of San Pablo Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec. 7, and the Piano and Vocal Showcase Concert at the John and Jean Knox Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 14.

“We will be doing a Vocal Jazz Retreat Oct. 26,” music department Chairperson Stephanie Austin said.

Dr. Austin also said singers will be performing in CCC adjunct professor Roger Letson’s Jazz Solo Voice class. So there are plenty of opportunities to watch a performance and to donate to the groups — even though official fundraising has ended, she said.

Additionally, vocal and piano students will take part in the CCC Invitational Choral Festival on Nov. 1 at the Knox Center. That event will take place from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

To offer a donation, contact Austin or Sara Marcellino with the CCC Foundation.