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 award-winning KCKCC Vocal Jazz Program takes pride in performing collegiate and professional-level vocal jazz ensemble literature. The students in the vocal vazz program learn jazz education through a variety of methods. First of all, several of the students take private vocal jazz coachings weekly. They 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).

Meet the Director

John Stafford

John Stafford II is currently Associate Professor of Music, Director of Choral Activities, and Co-Coodinator of the Music Department at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Professor Stafford was a 2015 recipient of the John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Award for outstanding teaching and leadership at the community college level. He has also received two teaching awards, within the past year, from KCKCC for Recruitment and Teaching Excellence. He was previously appointed at Millikin University, Eastern Illinois University, and Danville Area Community College teaching composition, theory, orchestration, history, and vocal jazz. He holds degrees from Millikin University (music business), Bowling Green State University (composition), and has done additional doctoral studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (choral conducting). Among his professional activities, Professor Stafford serves as the Jazz 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 has served as Director of Choral Music at Community Christian Church in Kansas City, MO since 2014.

Mr. Stafford maintains a high profile as a composer, arranger, and performer. 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, and 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 compositions 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 Acappella, the New York Treble Singers and the Anti-Social New Music Ensemble (New York City) had performed his music.

Full-Tuition Music Scholarships

Our music department offers a three-year, full-tuition vocal music scholarship. The award covers tuition only, not books or fees. Also, the award is only for fall and spring semesters (it is not offered for summer semester). Students can be any major, but preference will be given to music majors.

Requirements are the following
  • Students must maintain a 2.5 GPA.
  • Students are required to take choir, applied voice lessons, vocal jazz ensemble (depending on fall auditions), and at least one semester of music theory.

Recent Performances for KCKCC Choral Ensembles

  • 2018 National Conference of the National Association for Music Education
  • 2017 and 2018 Three Student Music Awards from Downbeat Magazine
  • 2017 National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association
  • 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018 Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop
  • 2016, 2017, 2018 JENerations Jazz Festival as part of the Jazz Educators Network National Conference
  • #1 Rating at the 2015 University of Northern Colorado/Greeley Jazz Festival
  • 2014 New York City Jazz Festival with Dr. Steve Zegree
  • 2013 and 2018 New York Voices Jazz Festival (IL)
  • 2018 The Real Group Vocal Festival (IA)
  • Masterclass with the New York Voices at KCKCC (2014)
  • 2015 and 2018 Masterclass and Performance with M-PACT
  • Performance with the New York Voices (2019)
  • Performance with Take 6 at Bethany College (2017)
  • Masterclass with Cantus in Minneapolis, MN (2012)
  • Masterclass with Dr. Anton Armstrong at St. Olaf College (2012)
  • Masterclass with Dr. Ron McCurdy of USC at KCKCC (2015)
  • Masterclass with Kevin Mahogany at KCKCC (2015)
  • Masterclass with Marilyn Maye at The Green Lady Lounge Jazz Club in Kansas City (2015)
  • Masterclass with Anders Jalkeus (original bass vocalist for The Real Group) at Bethany College (2016)
  • Friends University Jazz Festival performance with Carmen Bradford (2018)

Vocal Jazz Ensembles

"The Standard" Vocal Jazz Ensemble

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

The Standard is the award-winning vocal jazz ensemble at KCKCC. Members of the ensemble have won three Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards in the past two years for Outstanding Performance, Live Engineered Recording, and Studio Engineered Recording in the Community College category. The Standard has been invited performed at the 2017 National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association (where they received a standing ovation), the 2018 National Conference of the National Association for Music Education, the Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop (four times), the New York Voices Jazz Festival (twice), and New York City Jazz Festival at Jazz at the Lincoln Center. They had also received a number #1 rating at the University of Northern Colorado/Greeley Jazz Festival and has performed three times at the JENerations Jazz Festival as a part of the Jazz Education Network National Conference. Within the past two years, the group has shared the stage with such highly acclaimed artists as, Take 6, The New York Voices, m-pact, Carmen Bradford, Dianne Reeves and Marilyn Maye.

Video performance of the "The Standard" Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Fusion Vocal Ensemble

MWF | 2:00 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

Fusion is an auditioned vocal jazz group that is in its 6th year of existence. The focus of the ensemble is to study performance practice of blues, rock, and soul music. Fusion received a number #2 rating at the 2015 University of Northern Colorado/Greeley Jazz Festival. They have also performed at the Millikin University Vocal Jazz Festival, the North Central ACDA Vocal Jazz Festival, and the The Real Group Festival at Southwestern Community College.

Vocal Jazz Lab Ensemble

TTH | 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

Vocal Lab is our newest vocal jazz ensemble in it 2nd year. The focus of the ensemble curriculum is designed to introduce students to the vocal jazz idiom and improvisation. Vocal Lab this year will perform at the Real Group Festival in Creston, IA.

Professional Music Ensemble (Directed by Dr. Justin Binek)

TTH | 12:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.

Our Pro Music Ensemble is designed for to combine both student instrumentalists and vocalists to study and perform together a different style of music every semester. The focus of this ensemble is to explore different styles including latin, funk, rock, blues, and hip-hop.

Summer Jazz Choir

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

Summer Jazz Choir is our community jazz choir that meets for 8 rehearsals every summer and presents one performance in early August. Open to members of the community wishing to sing in a choir once a week, ages range from high school upperclassmen to older adults. 

Choral Ensembles

Chamber Choir

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

KCKCC’s auditioned choir is a 50+ voice auditioned ensemble specializing in choral music from the 20th and 21st century. The choir perform throughout the Midwest, serving as ambassadors of 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 once or twice a semester.

Video performance of the Community Chamber Choir
Social Media
facebook_color youtube_color twitter_color soundcloud_color 

Contact Information

John Stafford II

Assistant Professor of Music
Director of Choral Activities


John Stafford II
Director of Choral Music, Vocal Jazz Ensembles and Co-Music Department Coordinator

Justin Binek, D.M.A.
Music Theory, Jazz Studies and Jazz Piano

Elizabeth Birger, D.M.A.
Applied Voice

Sarah LaBarr
Applied Voice, Music Theory, and Music Appreciation

Mike Ning
Jazz Piano Accompanist and Vocal Coaching

Julia Scozzafava
Applied Voice

Joyce Steeby
Staff Accompanist and Vocal Coaching

Vigthor Zophoniasson
Applied Voice

© Kansas City Kansas Community College
7250 State Avenue | Kansas City, KS 66112 | 913-334-1100
An Equal Opportunity Educational Institution
Contact | Accessibility | KCKCC Statements

KS Degree Stats