Deep Dish Music Festival


Columbia College Chicago hosts an all-day invitational music festival for high school and community college ensembles to celebrate and cultivate their unique musical talents. Growing out of the Contemporary, Urban, and Popular Music and Jazz Studies programs, this festival is designed specifically for ensembles who perform pop, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, rock, gospel, and Latin music.

  • Performances of attendee ensembles adjudicated by Columbia faculty.
  • Workshops led by Chicago music professionals on topics such as music technology, music business, and music theory specific to contemporary, urban, and popular music.
  • Master classes with Isaiah Sharkey.
  • A concert featuring Columbia’s leading ensembles performing with Isaiah Sharkey

This year's festival will take place virtually. Competiton submissions will be provided by video, but the performances, workshops, and master class will be live-streaming sessions. However, if we are able to welcome groups to campus by March, the event will be virtual with a live, on-campus component for select participants. 

Isaiah Sharkey, Featured Clinician
Renowned guitarist Isaiah Sharkey (John Mayer, D'Angelo, Paul Simon) will adjudicate, perform, and lead a workshop for festival attendees.

At the age of 14, Isaiah, along with his father and brothers, released their first album entitled, "Skyliner." This album displayed Isaiah's ability to play covers and some transcriptions from greats like Wes Montgomery and George Benson. Subsequently, he started his recording career and served as a sideman for gospel artists such as Smokie Norful, Donald Lawrence and Vanessa Bell Armstrong. He also toured as lead guitarist with Ronald Isley and recorded two albums with him.  

In 2009, Isaiah started working with artist D'Angelo on his third album, Black Messiah, which won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. Based on his work and contribution to the project, Isaiah received his first Grammy. 

Isaiah also has worked, recorded, and toured with several world-renown and Grammy award winning artists including John Mayer, Patti LaBelle, Christopher Martin of Coldplay, Paul Simon, Corrine Bailey Rae, Mike Posner, Keith Urban, Brian McKnight, Boyz II Men, Lalah Hathaway, Raphael Saadiq, Chris Dave and the DrumHedz, Regina Bell, Ruben Studdard, Lupe Fiasco, Kelly Price, Faith Evans, Rance Allen, The Winans, The Clark Sisters and many others.

Isaiah Sharkey is poised to take center stage as he fuses together his background in rock, gospel, jazz, R&B, blues, and funk to create an original sound with an unmistakable dose of soul. His highly anticipated debut album "Love.Life.Live." was released in September of 2017 and earned him the iHeartRadio Artist of the Month Award in November for his single “It's a Shame," featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff.    


  • Fees

    These prices include participation in the day’s events, including adjudication of submissions, workshops, master class, and all performances.

    • 2–10 ensemble members: $200 
    • 11–20 ensemble members: $300
    • 21–30 Ensemble Members: $400 

    Some scholarships are available! Please indicate whether you’d like to be considered for a scholarship on your application.   

  • About the Music Department

    Columbia College Chicago’s Music Department focuses on contemporary, urban, jazz and popular music, and the creation of original musical work for the stage, screen and beyond. In core classes, students learn theory, composition, improvisation, arranging, technology, history, analysis, and aural skills. Instrumental, vocal, and composition private lessons complete the curriculum, designed to prepare students for collaborative music-making experiences in ensembles that play a variety of styles and genres, including the performance of original student generated songs, compositions, and productions.

    Learn more about Music at Columbia. 

Friday, March 5, 2021 
Columbia College Chicago Music Center 


  Questions? Contact   


Thank you to our Deep Dish Music Festival sponsors:

James E. Kopp, Jr. and Marilyn Kopp

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Upcoming Events:

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