KCKCC Wins 15 Awards from DownBeat Magazine

Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2022

Students from Kansas City Kansas Community College’s vocal and instrumental jazz ensembles received a combined 15 awards in DownBeat Magazine’s 2022 Student Music Awards. DownBeat has the widest circulation of any jazz magazine in the United States and has been recognizing student achievement at the middle school, high school and collegiate levels with the Student Music Awards since 1978.

“I’m both honored and humbled by the whole situation. Our students and faculty are a hard-working group of individuals that want to be artistic and want to experience the joy of creating music at a high-level. It’s pleasing to receive recognition for our work, especially from Downbeat,” said John Stafford, director of Choral Activities at KCKCC. “It’s quite remarkable and our success has to do with the character of our students. This is all about them and having them succeed. To receive this recognition, particularly this year, is a testament to their work ethic and commitment. I’m just honored to be a part of this process.”

Among the awards are two Community College winners – Jessie Glennon for Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist (electric guitar) and the Blue Devil Funk Band in the Blues/Pop/Rock Group category. Directed by Dr. Justin Binek, the Blue Devil Funk Band performs jazz-influenced funk, soul, rhythm and blues and pop music ranging from classic Motown and Stax Records hits to contemporary artists like Beyonce and Vulfpeck. The group currently includes five singers, four horns and five rhythm section members. The ensemble has been part of KCKCC’s award-winning music ensembles since Fall 2018.

“Obviously, this is a huge honor for our students and faculty. Being recognized this way in the DownBeat Student Music Awards is a remarkable recognition of what we do at KCKCC, presented on a national scale,” Binek said. “What I'm most proud of is that the awards we received this year cover the full spectrum of what we do with commercial music at KCKCC - jazz, pop/rock/R&B, vocal, instrumental, large ensembles, combos, soloists, songwriters and audio engineers. We've got a remarkable team in place - Jim Mair, John Stafford, Ian Corbett in Audio Engineering and me - and we’ve got some pretty wonderful students. These awards recognize a very cool culture that we've built in our program, one in which students challenge themselves to both perform and create excellent music and have a great time doing so.”

In addition to the overall awards, KCKCC received 13 other awards this year. These include:

  • Jaylen Ward, Community College Outstanding Performance, Jazz Soloist (drums)
  • Christian Anderson, Community College Outstanding Performance, Vocal Jazz Soloist
  • John Stafford II, guest conductor for the Iowa All-State Jazz Choir, High School Honors Ensemble Outstanding Performance, Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble
  • The Standard Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Community College Outstanding Performance, Asynchronous Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble
  • The Standard Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Community College Outstanding Performance, Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble
  • Maddie Huwe, Community College Outstanding Performance, Outstanding Soloist on “Magnolia,” Asynchronous Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble
  • Calvin Haverkamp, Community College Outstanding Performance, Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist (electric guitar)
  • Jaylen Ward, Community College Outstanding Performance, Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist (drums)
  • KCKCC Luck20, Community College Outstanding Performance, Blues/Pop/Rock Group
  • Samuel Anderson Band, Community College Outstanding Performance, Blues/Pop/Rock Group
  • Henry Fears, “Frost,” Community College Outstanding Performance, Original Composition-Small Ensemble
  • Jordan Faught, “Apology Peach,” Community College Outstanding Performance, Original Composition – Small Ensemble
  • Joe Straws, Community College Outstanding Recording, Engineered Live Recording

“I continue to be surprised,” Mair said of the number of awards KCKCC won this year. “We set the bar high both musically and personally for our students. We teach them to treat music like a business and make sure they have employable skills. They are extremely hard working.”

This continues a remarkable run of recognition for KCKCC from DownBeat, as the school’s students and faculty have now been the recipients of more than 30 awards in the past six years. This recognition of a single community college by DownBeat is extraordinary.

“I'm still trying to process the fact that we received 15 Student Music Awards this year,” Binek said. “That’s a number that schools like Berklee College of Music, the University of Miami and the University of Northern Colorado receive. The idea that KCKCC is in that company is extremely special, and honestly, a bit surreal. It’s a special thing for us as a department to be recognized like this on a national level.”

Category: Academics

Keywords: Music

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