SAXOPHONIST, SINGER, SONGWRITER, COMPOSER, ARRANGER, EDUCATOR
As Grace Kelly defiantly reminds us on The Other One, a standout number from her upcoming album Trying To Figure It Out, she’s not looking to be like anyone else. “Got my own thing,” she sings over the song’s urban, trancelike groove. Although the singer and saxophone player has been acclaimed by critics and audiences alike as a jazz musician, the track’s exhilarating chorus, haunting keyboard hook and brittle electro edge show an artist interested only in playing what she loves labels be damned.
The Wellesley, Massachusetts born artist, 24, 2016 winner of 64th Annual Downbeat Critics Poll ‘Rising Star Alto Saxophone’, has been named eight-times to the critics poll, youngest saxophonist ever to be named to poll. She recorded her first album, Dreaming, when she was 12. At 14, she received the first of her five ASCAP Foundation Composer Awards for her composition Every Road I Walked and was invited to perform with the Boston Pops. For the occasion, she wrote her first full orchestral arrangement, adapting the award winning
piece. In 2009, Kelly guested with the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra as part of the events surrounding Barack Obama’s inauguration celebration at the request of the ensemble’s director, Wynton Marsalis.
In Dec 2015 Jon Batiste snagged Grace as a regular on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’s band, Stay Human, playing multiple reeds and singing.
Among Kelly’s critically acclaimed releases are collaborations with jazz legends Lee Konitz (GRACEfulLEE, 2008) and Phil Woods (The Man With the Hat, 2011). The disc with Konitz ended up in Downbeat’s Best Albums of the 2000s issue.
A graduate from the Berklee College of Music in 2011, with a degree in professional music, Kelly has taught residency workshops there since 2012. That year also brought another important opportunity to pass on her musical knowledge: the U.S. State Department sent her on an international speakers tour to be an ambassador of jazz and educate the people of Madagascar and the Comoros Islands about the music.
Trying To Figure It Out, due in February 2016, is Kelly’s eighth studio disc. Expanding on her longstanding interest in genre-bending, while maintaining a jazz foundation, the album finds her once again following a restless artistic spirit. In her words, the new work explores “the world of jazz and beyond.” Fittingly, the album’s musical setting shifts from acoustic, conventional jazz (as typified by her touching version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, a live favourite) to a genre-bending approach, with more contemporary production values.
Maintaining a busy tour schedule with her group, Kelly has drawn critical praise and new fans every year with headlining over 700 shows in 30 countries at all major jazz festivals, from Montreux to Newport to Montreal. Awards continue to come.
But Kelly says she has never lost sight of a larger picture. “I think everybody comes to life with a calling,” Kelly says. “I’ve been super blessed that my calling in life has been music and that I found it from an early age. But what I really hope my music brings to people is healing. There’s nothing that makes me feel better than when somebody, after a show, says `You lifted me up.’”
Is it the main reason she plays? Her response comes without hesitation: “It’s the only reason.”
Media appearances include CBS Late Show with Stephen Colbert, NBC Show 'Maya Nad Marty" , Amazon Prime "emmy-Nominated Series "BOSCH", NPR “Day To Day” , NPR “ Here and Now”, NPR “Piano Jazz”, “Chronicle”, WGBH with Eric Jackson, XM Radio, WICN, KSFR, KCSM, ABC's WCVB-TV,
CBS TV4, Fox 25 News, NECN, EBS Radio and EBS TV and numerous radio interviews. Featured in many magazines and newspapers in U.S., Europe and Asia such as: LA Times, Downbeat, Jazziz, Jazz Times, Jazztitek, Chosun Daily News, Boston Globe, Washington Post, and many others.
Film: "Sound Of Redemption The Frank Morgan Story"
“Delta Rising” a Blues Documentary, including Willie Nelson, Morgan Freeman and others.
Grace appeared as special guest artist for two nights with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops 2007 Jazz Series. One of the selections Grace performed was her award winning composition “Every Road I Walked” which she also arranged for the entire Pops orchestra. It was her first arrangement for an orchestra and strings. Grace also performed with Diane Reeves and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
"Live At Scullers" (2013) Jason Palmer, Pete McCann, Zack Brown, Mark Walker, Eric Law, Jaime Woods, Chantalle Sterling
"Grace" (2012) George Russell, Jr, Jamey Haddad, Peter Clemente
"Man With The Hat" (2011) Phil Woods, Monty Alexander, Evan Gregor, Bill Goodwin
“Mood Changes” (2009) Terri Lyne Carrington, Jason Palmer, Doug Johnson, John Lockwood, with special guests Adam Rogers and Hal Crook
“GracefulLee” (2008) Lee Konitz, Russell Malone, Rufus Reid, Matt Wilson
“Every Road I Walked” (2006), Terri Lyne Carrington, Doug Johnson, John Lockwood, and special guest Christian Scott
“Times Too” (2005), Doug Johnson, John Lockwood, Yoron Israel
“Dreaming” (2004), Doug Johnson, John Lockwood, Jordan Perlson
Grace began attending Berklee College of Music on full scholarship, at age 16, in Sept 2008. Graduated at age 19 in 2011.
Awards and Distinction Highlights
Winner Downbeat Critics Poll 2016 Rising Star-Alto Saxophone
Winner 2016 NYC Jazz Fans -Alto Saxophonist of the year
Winner New England Music Awards - Jazz Act of the Year 2013
Winner NATIONAL Jazz Act Of The Year in 2012 Phoenix "Best Music Poll"
"Top Ten College Women 2011", Award, Glamour Magazine 54th annual competition
- Named five times in the annual Downbeat Magazines 2009, 2010 ,2011, 2012 and 2013 Critics Poll as one of the Alto Saxophone "Rising Star” (Youngest Ever named to critics poll)
Nominated “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” 2013 SiriusXM Watercolors
-CNN “Making of a Prodigy” feature story.
- Recipient of the ASCAP Foundation 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Young Jazz Composers Award
- Voted "Best Jazz Act” in Boston four consecutive years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 FNX/Phoenix Best Music Poll
- Voted "Jazz Act of the Year" 2008 and 2010 Boston Music Awards
-Nominated "Jazz Act of the Year" 2008 thru 2013 Boston Music Awards
- Winner Jimmy Woode Award Saxophone Soloist, Tuscia in Jazz Italy
- Finalist 2009 Jazz A Juan Revelations, Les Pins, France
- First ever recipient of the "Brad Delp Rising Star Award” - 2009 Limelight Magazine Music Awards
- Recipient of the 2008 Francis B. Lanier Award New England Conservatory Prep School (Youngest ever and first non-classical musician to receive the award.)
- Performed winning composition "Every Road I Walked” at the 2007 ASCAP Foundation Annual Awards in New York.
- 2006-2009 Winner of twelve (12) Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards. Jazz Soloist, Jazz Vocalist, Pop/Rock Blues Soloist, Composition, Extended Composition, Arrangement
- Recipient of the Berklee College of Music Superior Musicianship Award
at 2007 Berklee High School Jazz Festival
- Grace Kelly was the youngest ever winner of Fish Middleton Jazz Scholarship at the 2006 East Coast Jazz Festival.
- Winner International Songwriting Competitions in 2006 & 2007 for "Filosophical Flying Fish” (Every Road I Walked) and ISC 2008 for "101”
- Grace Kelly was judged the top woodwind soloist and the top vocal alto soloist at the 2007 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival
Grace studied saxophone with Lee Konitz, Jerry Bergonzi, and Allan Chase. Grace is the youngest ever to complete the four year Jazz Studies certificate program at New England Conservatory Prep School. Graduated from Berklee College of Music at age 19. Grace also plays piano, soprano, tenor saxophone, baritone sax, clarinet, baritone clarinet, flute, and Ewie. www.gracekellymusic.com