For the second year in a row, Sacramento State’s jazz vocalists have won double honors. Downbeat magazine, the bible of the jazz industry, has proclaimed the University’s Vox Now group one of the best in the nation and given the C-Sus Voices an Outstanding Performance Award in its June issue, published April 25.

This follows close on the heels of Vox Now’s win, and the Sac State Jazz Singers’ second-place finish, at the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival on April 2.

Jazz VocalistsSac State jazz singers in rehearsal. (Sacramento State/Craig Koscho)

In 2016, the University’s C-Sus Voices were named No. 1 by both Downbeat and the Next Generation Festival.

Schools and universities from across the nation submit audio selections to Downbeat for consideration. The music for Sac State’s two groups was selected by Vocal Jazz director Gaw Vang Williams and included arrangements of “Killing Me Softly” by Singers Unlimited, “Waltz for Deby” by Real Group, and “Darn that Dream,” by New York Voices.

“I submit recordings that most reflect the jazz genre,” Vang Williams says. “The songs are the most challenging repertoire we perform, with difficulty based on chordal harmonies and challenging rhythms.”

And “challenge” is an important component of the group’s success

“The students are very talented, but more of our success is based on their eagerness to be better students and musicians every day,” Vang Williams says.

She adds that the students not only trust her to guide them, but also trust one another to achieve their common goal. “Whether it’s performing arts, sports, or other endeavors, any collaborative group work is more successful if there is drive, respect, and trust among all members,” Vang Williams says.

Next up for the vocalists is a concert at 7 p.m. Friday, May 12, at the Capistrano Concert Hall featuring all three groups – Vox Now, C-Sus Voices, and the Sac State Jazz Singers. Tickets are $10 general admission, $7 seniors, and $5 students, available at the Sacramento State Ticket Office, (916) 278-4323 or

And next semester Vox Now will perform during the Sept. 15-17 Monterey Jazz Festival as part of their first-place finish at the Next Generation Festival.

For more information on Sacramento State’s jazz programs, visit the School of Music at or call (916) 278-5155. For media assistance, call the University’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156. – Craig Koscho