The KCKCC Choral and Vocal Jazz Program

The primary objective of the Choral Music Program at KCKCC is to educate the students and the community about vocal ensemble music through stylistic variety and tonal diversity, based on historical precedent. This objective is achieved by exposing choir members to music of different nationalities and/or cultures and their commitment to recreate a unique tone quality that identifies with the cultural environment of each composition.

The KCKCC Vocal Jazz Program takes pride in performing high-level vocal jazz ensemble literature that represents a crossover of the jazz and popular music idioms. The students in the program learn jazz education through a variety of methods and selected students per semester take private vocal jazz coachings weekly. Our students also perform music by professional vocal ensembles, arrangements by well-known vocal jazz educators, and learn jazz and popular music standards (both through the ensemble and within the private coachings). Our Vocal Jazz Program maintains a very actively performance schedule including performing at jazz festivals throughout the country and jazz clubs venues in the Kansas City Metro Area.

Meet the Director

John Stafford

John Stafford II is currently the Director of Choral Music Activities at Kansas City Kansas Community College, since 2010. He was previously appointed at Millikin University and Eastern Illinois University teaching music composition, theory and orchestration. He holds degrees from Millikin University, Bowling Green State University, with additional graduate studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Among his professional activities, Professor Stafford serves as the Jazz and Show Choir Chair of the Kansas Choral Directors Association; he is also a member of National Association for Music Educators, Jazz Educators Network, and American Choral Directors Association. Also, Stafford is the Director of Choral Music at Community Christian Church in Kansas City, MO

Mr. Stafford maintains a high profile as a composer, arranger, and performer. Recent musical activities have included appearing as a bass vocalist with Kansas City ensembles, such as, the KC VITAS Chamber Choir and Spire Chamber Ensemble, back-up artist for Ben Folds and the St. Louis Symphony, publishing choral works through the Roger Dean Company and Sound Music Publications. His composition, Humanity, I Love You, was recorded and released through First Step Records in 2013. His other choral and chamber music has been performed throughout North America and Europe. The University of Oregon's Waging Peace Through Singing, an international competition for choral music on the theme of peace, has recognized his work. He has also received recognition from other organizations such as American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, the Society of Composers Inc. (both national and regional conferences), the National Federation of Music Clubs, Electronic Music Midwest, and Primavera En La Habana 2004 (Spring in Havana) International Electroacoustic Music Festival in Havana, Cuba. He was selected as a finalist for the IV Edition Pierre Schaeffer International Competition of Computer Music in Italy. In addition, members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, New York New Music Ensemble, the Hradec Kralove Men's Chorus (Czech Republic), the Gregg Smith Singers, Chicago A cappella, the New York Treble Singers and the Anti-Social New Music Ensemble (New York City) had performed his music.

Recent Performances for KCKCC Choral Ensembles:

  • 2017 American Choral Directors Association National Conference (Minneapolis, MN)
  • 2017 and 2016 JENerations Jazz Festival as part of the Jazz Educators Network National Conference (Louisville, KY and New Orleans, LA)
  • 2016, 2014, and 2012 Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop
  • 2016 and 2015 Vertical Voices Vocal Jazz Festival (IL)
  • 2016 and 2015 Millikin University Vocal Jazz Festival (IL)
  • 2016, 2014, and 2012 Fox Fest Vocal Jazz Festival at Southwestern Community College (IA)
  • Performance with M-PACT at The Blue Room Jazz Club in Kansas City (2015)

Professional Clinics Attended:

The New York Voices
Cantus, Kevin Mahogany
Marilyn Maye
Anders Jalkeus, bass vocalist for The Real Group
Dr. Anton Armstrong, St. Olaf College
Dr. Elena Sharkova, San Jose State University
Dr. Brad Holmes, Millikin University
Dr. Julie Yu, Kansas State University
Dr. Arnold Epley, William Jewell College
Dr. Ronald McCudy, University of Southern California 
Dr. Jeremy Fox, Freelance Vocal Jazz Composer/Arranger
Kerry Marsh, University of Northern Colorado
Gene Aiken, University of Northern Colorado
Jennifer Barnes, University of North Texas
Rosana Eckert, University of North Texas
Greg Jasperse, University of Western Michigan
Darmon Meader, New York Voices and Indiana University
Duane Davis, Western Michigan University
LaDamion Massey, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Trist Curless, Bass vocalist for M-Pact and The Manhattan Transfer
Brennan Baglio, Tenor/Baritone vocalist for Groove For Thought

Choral Ensembles at KCKCC

Chamber Choir

MWF | 12:00 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

The KCKCC Concert Choir is a 50+ voice auditioned ensemble specializing in a cappella choral music from the 20th and 21st century. The choir performs throughout the Midwest, serving as ambassadors of the college.

Video performance of the Chamber Choir

Community Chamber Choir

Mondays only (Fall and Spring Semesters only) | 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Open to members of the community wishing to sing in a choir once a week, ages range from high school upperclassmen to older adults. Community Chamber Choir performs at the major KCKCC Choral Concerts one to two times per semester. 

Video performance of the Community Chamber Choir

Vocal Jazz Ensembles

"The Stanard" Vocal Jazz Ensemble

MWF | 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

The Standard is the flagship vocal ensemble at KCKCC. In 2017, they won a Downbeat Magazine Student Music Award for Outstanding Performance in the Community College category. The Standard has been invited performed at the National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association, the Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop, the New York Voices Jazz Festival, and New York City Jazz Festival at Jazz at the Lincoln Center. The Standard also received a number #1 rating at the University of Northern Colorado/Greeley Jazz Festival and has performed at the JENerations Jazz Festival as a part of the Jazz Educators Network National Conference. The group has performed on stage with Take 6, m-pact, Dianne Reeves and Marilyn Maye.

Video performance of the "The Standard" Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Contemporary Vocal Ensemble

MW | 2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Contemporary Vocal Ensemble (CVE) is an auditioned vocal ensemble specializing in popular music repertoire, especially Blues, Rock, and Soul. They will perform music this year by Stevie Wonder, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bob Marley, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and several other artists. CVE will perform at the 2018 JENerations Jazz Festival as a part of the Jazz Educators Network National Conference in Dallas, TX.

Summer Jazz Choir

Mondays only in June and July | 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

The Summer Jazz Choir is an ensemble made up of current music students, employees, and community members from the Kansas City Kansas Community College area. It is in the first year of its existence and the ensemble is a part of the Continuing Education program of the college. The ensemble will meet every June and July for 8 weeks of rehearsal and will put on a concert at the beginning of August. Membership is by audition.
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Contact Information

John Stafford II

Assistant Professor of Music
Director of Choral Activities


Dr. Elizabeth Birger (soprano)
Applied voice

Sarah LaBarr (soprano)
Applied voice and piano

Mike Ning
Solo jazz voice accompanist and vocal coaching

John Stafford II
Choirs and Vocal Jazz ensembles

Joyce Steeby
Staff accompanist and vocal coaching

Julia Scozzafava (mezzo-soprano)
Applied voice

Vigthor Zophoniasson (tenor)
Applied voice

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7250 State Avenue | Kansas City, KS 66112 | 913-334-1100
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