NCCU vocal group seeks funding for NYC festival

Mar. 15, 2014 @ 04:34 PM

North Carolina Central University’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble is trying to raise money to perform at the New York City Jazz Festival at Lincoln Center in April.

The vocal ensemble last performed at the festival in 2010, and has been invited to go to the event every year since then, said Lenora Helm Hammonds, director of the ensemble. “We’ve always had to turn it down because the state keeps cutting our budget,” Hammonds said.
To raise the money, the ensemble, part of the school’s Jazz Studies Program, has started a fundraising campaign on the “crowd funding” website. The ensemble is trying to raise $20,000 through gofundme to send 40 students, which includes vocalists and a small instrumental group, to the festival, to be held April 11-14. Because the ensemble will be trying to recruit students during the trip, NCCU agreed to fund the other $20,000 of the $40,000 the group needs, Hammonds said. The gofundme site does not require fundraisers to set a time limit on raising the money.
“The school is supportive, but they only have what they have,” she said.
At the festival, high school and college ensembles get criticism and instruction from professional musicians, and perform in Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater. Guest artists who will offer critiques are members of the New York Voices vocal quartet, and Steve Zegree, jazz vocal professor.
For students who plan to graduate this spring, this trip is their last chance to perform at the event, Hammonds said. “I’m really confident that there’s someone out there who would” help raise the money, she said. Students in many academic fields get work experience through internships, but those experiences are often difficult for musicians to find, she said. “These kinds of opportunities are these real deal situations,” Hammonds said. “It’s really about the opportunity for the students to be able to demonstrate what they know to their peers.”
The Vocal Jazz Ensemble also is planning a house concert to raise some of the money. Details will be posted later on, Hammonds said.
“It’s going to happen,” she said. “I am the eternal optimist. I just appreciate everybody’s support. No gift is too small.”


 For information about this fundraiser, go to