Cuesta College celebrates 20 years of the Cuesta Vocal Jazz Festival

Groove for Thought is the headliner for this year’s Cuesta Vocal Jazz Festival on Nov. 2 and 3. (Contributed photo)

Headliner this year is Groove for Thought, winners of ‘The Sing-off’

COUNTY — What started in 1998 as the Cuesta Vocal Jazz Workshop, a one-day event that brought together eight high school ensembles, who performed for each other, followed by a clinic with one of several well-known clinicians from across the country who are experts at vocal jazz performance grew gradually over the years to two days, and now two days with two stages.
This year, Cuesta College is hosting 40 schools on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 2 and 3. The headliner for the evening concerts is Groove For Thought, winners of the NBC hit series “The Sing-off.”  
At the festival, each school group from middle school, high school or college, performs on the stage for 25 minutes, while clinicians make notes on paper and into a voice recorder. Then one of the clinicians works with the choir in a rehearsal room, demonstrating ways to improve their songs and general jazz performance concepts.
The festival is one of Cuesta College’s largest outreach events, attracting 500-plus students to the campus. It is a reliable recruitment tool for the Cuesta Music Department, attracting talented singers from all over the state to come and study music at Cuesta College. Over the years, the festival has hosted an eclectic variety of headliners, ranging from historically important groups like the Four Freshman, which hails back to the 1950s. Pop a cappella groups like the House Jacks, similar to what you would see on the movie Pitch Perfect. There was an all-female group called the Jazz Divas. The clinicians are the top educators and performers in the vocal jazz realm, and they are sometimes featured as the headliners, creating jazz on the spot improvising the whole concert.
The headliner for this year is the seven singers of Groove for Thought, who have been blowing audiences away for over 15 years. Their jazz-influenced arrangements of both standard and original tunes have earned them the reputation as one of the finest contemporary vocal ensembles in the world.
For more questions on the festival contact, Michelle Peters, festival coordinator at 805-546-3195 or via email at


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