The Oakland Jazz Choir, a unique, dynamic, multi-cultural ensemble, is dedicated to the education, preservation and perpetuation of vocal jazz, and is committed to bringing together professional and community members alike.

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The Oakland Jazz Choir got its start in 1992 as an offshoot of its namesake city's other popular choral group - the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. Stacey Hoffman, Executive Director of Living Jazz (the organization that produces the beloved Jazz Camp West) had nurtured the Gospel Choir until it took off to form its own organization. Soon after she initiated the Oakland Jazz Choir as another project of Living Jazz. In the 13 years that ensued, the choir experienced a wonderful evolution (as well as some growing pains) that took it from a 50-voice community choir to a 20-voice semi-professional choir. Also during that time several very talented musical directors gave the choir their unique musical signatures.

In 2005, OJC, following in the footsteps of its predecessor, decided to form its own nonprofit. This was a bold and frightening move, but one that was determined the best move at the time. With a small core group of dedicated singers taking on the business end of things, the choir achieved nonprofit status and pressed ahead to find performance opportunities while at the same time staying true to the mission of outreach and education.

Today, the choir consists of 15 vocalists. What makes this incarnation stand apart from its predecessors is that artistic collaboration from all singers is welcomed. It is not a "director's choir" but a "choir's choir." This occurred quite naturally as a result of committed members sticking together to keep the choir alive. OJC is truly an inspiration. In rehearsal, in performance and in its outreach each member demonstrates dedication and strives for musical excellence. A blending of hearts and voices can have so much power. These voices unite to share in their common love of jazz and to help promote the art form in new ways while respecting its cultural roots.

In a nutshell . . .Since its inception in 1992, OJC has collaborated with notable jazz, blues and gospel artists including Mark Murphy, Marlena Shaw, Madeline Eastman, Faye Carol, Brenda Boykin, Terrence Kelly and Kenny Washington. Venues have included Yoshi's, the International Association of Jazz Educators convention, The Great American Music Hall, the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, The White Barn, the JazzSchool, the Livermore Public Library and the Grass Valley Center for the Arts. The choir has performed at numerous jazz festivals including SF Jazz, the San Jose Jazz Festival, the Sonoma Jazz Festival, the Vallejo Jazz Festival, the Lake Tahoe Summer Music Festival and the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival. OJC also brings jazz into the Oakland public schools during Black History Month and Jazz Appreciation Month. Through the Bread and Roses Organization, OJC has brought its musical inspiration to those incarcerated in local jails and prisons.

OJC is funded mainly through its performances, grants and individual donations. Those dollars fund day-to-day operations, artistic and professional fees. But what keeps OJC's collective heart beating most of all is the love of Jazz. WEBMASTER - Bryan Shaner