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KCKCC Vocal Music Wins Two Downbeat Magazine Awards; Performs with Take 6

Kelly Rogge
Public Information Supervisor
Wednesday, July 05, 2017
The Kansas City Kansas Community College Choral Department is celebrating one of its most successful seasons in KCKCC history.

The Kansas City Kansas Community College Choral Department is celebrating one of its most successful seasons in KCKCC history.

Following their performance at the American Choral Directors Association’s National Conference in March, KCKCC’s Vocal Jazz Choir “The Standard” had the opportunity to perform with Grammy Award winning Take 6 at Bethany College’s Messiah Festival of the Arts in Lindsborg, Kan. Take 6 is an a cappella gospel music group, winning 10 Grammy Awards since 1988. In addition, they have collaborated with artists such as Ray Charles, Whitney Houston, Brian McKnight, CeCe Winans and Stevie Wonder, among others.

“It was such a pleasure to open for them,” said John Stafford, director of choral activities at KCKCC. “It was not only intimidating, but exciting. I have personally idolized these musicians for 20 years. Much of what I do today is because of that group. It was so nice to sit down, even for a short time, to chat with them.”

The concert, which was on the opening day of the festival, was on Palm Sunday. The festival features a performance of J.S. Bach’s “Passion According to St. Matthew” as well as G.F. Handel’s “Messiah” by the Bethany Oratorio Society, In addition, there are other recitals, concerts and exhibitions during the week-long event.

“We were asked to open the festival by the Director of Choral Activities (Mark Lucas) at Bethany College,” Stafford said. “It was really just like icing on the cake, after the year we have had.”

To finish the year, KCKCC received two awards from “Downbeat Magazine,” a first for the college. Downbeat, created in 1934, is devoted to jazz and blues music. It publishes articles and reviews in a monthly publication related to the music industry. Annually, the magazine presents Student Music Awards. This is the 40th year for the program.

KCKCC received two awards – Community College Outstanding Performance, awarded to “The Standard” Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Community College Outstanding Live Recording, awarded to Jordan Lankhorst, a 2017 KCKCC graduate in audio engineering and sound technician for KCKCC’s Vocal Jazz Program.

“This is by far the biggest awards we have ever received,” Stafford said. “It was a major goal for the program to receive awards like this from Downbeat Magazine. It established the program nationally, which is a really good feeling.”

Stafford attributes the program’s success this year to a “good core group of students.”

“The students in the program right now have a great attitude, and they want to perform good, difficult music. There is a level of commitment that the students have to the music and to each other,” he said. “I think everyone was amazed (at receiving the Downbeat Magazine Awards). This was a major accomplishment for our program.”

For more information on the KCKCC vocal music program, contact John Stafford at 913-288-7137 or by email at

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