Benny and the Good Men mixing it up at the outreach concert that traditionally opens the Pentastic Hot Jazz Festival. (Steve Kidd/Western News)

Jazz festival supports students

The Hot Jazz Festival has a tradition of supporting music education

One of the newest, and youngest, bands at this year’s Pentastic Hot Jazz Festival has to be Sing N’ Swing.

Made up of local music students and fronted by 16-year-old singer Jessica Singleton, this is the band’s debut performance at the jazz festival.

“We like to showcase locals. We’ve had some pretty good musicians come up through the school ranks,” said Michael Campbell, Jazz Festival society president.

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The festival’s support of young musicians also takes a very tangible form.

It’s a bit of a tradition for the Jazz Festival to open with a Friday afternoon outreach concert at one of the Penticton high schools. Not only does it help expose students to jazz, donations raised at these performances helps support band programs.

“The Pentastic Jazz Festival has supported Pen High and Princess Margaret (Secondary) for years,” said music instructor Don Grant, noting that the Festival also offers $10 student passes. “We want kids to come to this festival, don’t we?”

Grant said that getting Sing N’ Swing on the Jazz Fest schedule is a great experience for his students.

“It’s nice that we’ve got our kids on the same stage as these pros. Jessica is going to be rubbing shoulders with some guys that have been making music for 50 or 60 years,” said Grant.

Singleton said the swing music the band performs is fun to sing, but admits to a little anxiety about performing at the festival.

“I’m very nervous. I am very excited as well,” said Singleton.

Grant doesn’t think she has anything to worry about.

“They’re great old tunes. I look at it as being a Michael Buble kind of show,” said Grant. “She’s got great sound, and her stage prescence is really coming.”

Look for Sing N’ Swing at 2:30 p.m. today (Sept. 9) at the Cotton Club, also known as the Elks Hall on Ellis Street.

Related: Jazz Fest schedule and venues