The First-Ever Skyridge Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Posted: February 7, 2018

Skyridge Middle School Director of Choirs & Drama Brenda Sappington recently announced the members of the first-ever Skyridge Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Please give a mighty congratulations to the following students:

  • Grace Barsness
  • Christina Cai
  • Ruby Cowart
  • Charlotte Cox
  • Natalie Cramer
  • Katelyn Daniels
  • Sara Davidson
  • Gracyn Epstein
  • Reagan Fallon-Small
  • Noah Fearrington
  • Lilly Freel
  • Samantha Gittings
  • Rachel Glaze
  • Rennie Graham
  • Amara Harris
  • Alexis Le
  • Katrina Le
  • Nicholas Leetham
  • Makena Linne’
  • Sofia Montovino
  • Alondra Patterson
  • Neha Ravi
  • Georgianna Ross
  • Ines Schwarzbeck
  • Aiden Shafiuzzaman
  • Mia Sugimoto
  • Rain Toney
  • Olivia Vandaele
  • Lily Walsh
  • Renae York
  • Joy Young

Says Mrs. Sappington, “I have dreamed of being able to offer our Skyridge students an extra musical opportunity ever since I became the choir director seven years ago. We have an extraordinary pool of musical talent here at Skyridge.”

The possibility of such an ensemble was encouraged last year by a dedicated group of 8th grade students (self-named ‘Hawkatonix’) that would rehearse at lunch and perform in Skyridge choir concerts.

Sappington hopes that the vocal jazz ensemble at Skyridge will continue the fine work of Natalie Wilson at Grass Valley, whose Grass Valley VOCAL JAZZ Ensemble has been acknowledged with a Downbeat Magazine award for Outstanding Performance in the Junior High School Division three separate times in the last several years. “The GVVJ group has set the bar high – with students not only singing but playing bass, piano and drums with the ensemble!”

Brenda has a background in classical music and a master’s degree in Voice from the Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she studied to be an opera singer. Her first love, however, is jazz. She attended Mount Hood Community College back in the 80s when it was the hot bed for vocal jazz in the Pacific Northwest under the direction of the late “Father of Vocal Jazz,” Hal Malcolm. “He was an internationally recognized pioneer of the vocal jazz movement and the concepts that I learned from Hal are the foundation of what I teach my students and what has shaped me as a performer,” explains Brenda.

“It is a dream come true to be able to provide this opportunity this year to 33 students from 6th, 7th and 8th grades during Flex class!” she says, recognizing the support of Principal Clint Williams. “We hope that it will be the genesis of a robust vocal jazz program here at Skyridge in the years to come!”