Urban Ensemble now at Skyline

Joel Clifton/Clifton Photography

Joel Clifton/Clifton Photography

Urban Music Ensemble is one of the newest music classes to be introduced on campus, with it making it first appearances in spring of 2013.

Professor Kymberly Jackson created the class after she realized that Skyline College had various other bands such as the Jazz Band, Concert Band, Concert Choir, Guitar Ensemble, and Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Each band allows students and members of the community who have the talent and interest in these areas to to join but, sadly, there wasn’t one for for hip-hop, R&B;, and related genres.

“So I said well, you know, what we don’t have is an ensemble that is based on a culture and a genres that a lot of our students are interested in which is rap, hip-hop,” Jackson said. “We got a jazz band, a choir, a jazz choir, we even got a symphony orchestra, we don’t have a band or an ensemble that deals with funk, R&B;, that kind of thing.”

The root of the idea can be traced back to her class Music 276 Hip-Hop Culture and Politics (formerly known as Music 680SA From Jazz to Hip-Hop) and the Expression Through Black Music – Research and Performance Project where she required her students to do a research paper and then turn it into a performance of their choice, be it rap, R&B;, dance, spoken word, or a combination of different elements.

“We did two in the theater a couple of years ago,” Jackson said. “We normally do little afternoon performances over in the cafeteria in front of the fireplace at the end of the semester.”

The goal for the class is for students is to work as a team in a musical environment, study the history of black music and its influence in today’s music, practice and rehearse, and learn basic music theory. The most important thing for Professor Jackson in her decision to create the class was, “for students to be able to express themselves in a performance ensemble that mirrors the interests of today’s students as far as music and performing arts is concerned.”

Professor Jackson also owns a production company known as “Kjes Entertainment, LLC” based in Oakland and has performed live in various locations from the Apollo Theater in New York City to the San Francisco Jazz Club and won the Black Music Association Jazz Artist of the Year Award in 2011.

The next performance that she has set for her students is on November 15, as part of the Skyline College Center for Innovative Practices through Hip-Hop Education and Research also known as CIPHER “Ensemble Mik Nawooj: A Hip-Hop Orchestra” event and she already has a place booked for next semester’s Rock the School Bells.