Oakland Jazz Choir

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Laura Blanton

Alto Born and raised in NYC, Laura was influenced by the jazz music her parents played when she was growing up, like tunes from Ella, Sarah, and Nina Simone. She joined OJC in 1995. Her most memorable performances include the IAJE convention in Long Beach in 2002, and the OJC’s tribute to Duke Ellington at […]

Marissa Matthews

Soprano Marissa’s family knew she loved music when at age 6 she was so happy to receive her first (purple) tape player that she hugged it close and danced with it around the house. She has been singing ever since! From choirs of all kinds throughout high school and college (including the SF Symphony Chorus), […]

Jocelyn Elisa

Soprano I’m a ” Newyorican,” raised with the Latin beats of Puerto Rican music and singing the songs from Broadway musicals. I started choral music in church as a child and graduated to studying Modern, Jazz, African, Middle Eastern and Latin dance in my teens and twenties. I began studying Jazz vocals in 1993 with […]

Valorie de Leña

Soprano “There’s a gift of connection to people through music and harmonies that transcends any language.” Music has been a part of Valorie’s life since she was a little girl. She has sung in choruses, quartets and choirs. Patti of the Tuck and Patti duo told her to “get singing and never stop”. And that’s […]

Deborah Blackburn

Soprano Deborah has been singing all of her life. Her family knew she was destined to sing when she memorized the entire soundtrack of “Bye Bye Birdie” when she was just two years old! Deborah’s musical artistry has been recognized with several solo and ensemble competition awards. She has performed in numerous venues throughout the […]

Heather Fong

Alto / Managing Director “Jazz is not just music, it’s a way of life, it’s a way of being, a way of thinking. . . . the new inventive phrases we make up to describe things – all that to me is jazz just as much as the music we play.” Nina Simone Heather, an […]

Walter Bankovitch

Pianist/Band Leader Walter grew up in Burlingame, California, and studied with Anna Mears in Pacifica, California; Walter Rudolph, San Francisco; Walter grew up in Burlingame, California, studying classical piano privately and learning to play jazz in bands in high school and college. At Stanford University Walter was the pianist for the college Jazz Band, playing […]

Ben Flint

Musical Director Ben has been directing the Oakland jazz choir since the spring of 2013. He and pianist Walter Bankovitch arrange most of the songs for the choir. Ben also directs the jazz choir at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill.  “I first heard OJC in the 90s – my neighbor Norma was a member […]