The Elegant ELLA GAHNT, Jazz vocalist and arranger, has been performing professionally since the age of 18 and is finally living her dream by performing the songs she loves. Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, she has studied piano, voice, guitar, saxophone, and music theory at Granoff, Settlement Music schools, and PCPA - now University of The Arts, and continues private instruction with her husband Leon Mitchell - composer, arranger, vocal coach, and musical director of The Philadelphia Legends of Jazz Orchestra.
Ella has worked as vocalist and music copyist on recordings with many popular artists like Grover Washington, Jr., The Stylistics, and Pieces of a Dream. She was founder/leader, lead and background vocalist, and arranger for Instruments and Voices, an excellent pop/jazz group that performed in the Philadelphia area. She has performed as jazz vocalist throughout the Delaware Valley with many fine jazz groups including the Cullen Knight Trio, the Sam Reed Quartet, the Roger Prieto Sextet, Tony Williams & Friends, the Sam Dockery Trio, the Butch Ballard Trio, the Webb Thomas Trio, the Gerald Smith Quartet, and her own E.G. Trio. Ella performed at the CoreStates "Philly Divas of Jazz, Poetry and Comedy" concert with Evelyn “Mama Diva” Simms and several of Philly’s finest Jazz vocalists. She performed at the PECO Energy "Jazz 'til Sunrise" Festival, and at the Philly Fall Festival of Jazz. In 2003, she performed an outstanding concert entitled "Just Us" along with vocalist Pearl Williams at the Painted Bride in Philadelphia, PA. In June 2004, Ella performed a memorable concert in the Perelman Theatre at the famed Kimmel Center during their Annual Summer Solstice Celebration. In March 2005, Ella was named “Jazz Ambassador” by the School District of Philadelphia along with her husband Leon Mitchell and several other Jazz artists and educators.
Ella has appeared at the quintessential Zanzibar Blue, Beaujolais Bistro, Sofitel Hotel, Glen Foerd on The Delaware, Ogontz Grill, Annenberg Zellerbach Theatre in Philadelphia, and in concert at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, and Haverford College, Haverford, PA. For 2 years, she appeared on both the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival and Mellon Jazz Festival. Ella performed in the “Scatfight” at The Clef Club in Philadelphia, and with the Phil Wright Quartet at the Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival. Ella is the vocalist with the Philadelphia Legends of Jazz Orchestra which was featured on the 2000 and 2001 Mellon Jazz Festivals, the 2004 Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz Appreciation Month “Jam for J.A.M.” Celebration at the Clef Club, the 2004 Collingswood, NJ “Jazz In The Wood” Festival, and the 2004 and 2005 West Oak Lane Jazz Festivals in Philadelphia. This year, Ella & The Legends appeared on the 2006 West Oak Lane Jazz Festival. Earlier this year, Ella performed stellar full concerts at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, PA, “Art After 5” Series at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Allens Lane Art Center, Cape May Jazz Festival Jazz Jam, and the Painted Bride Art Center. She has also performed a “standing room only” concert for The Historic Chicken Bone Beach Jazz Festival in Atlantic City, NJ, the Morrisville Jazz Festival in Morrisville, PA, and the Tenor Love Jazz Festival with a host of all stars at the Awbury Arboretum in Philadelphia, PA.
All of these associations give Ella the chance to blend with different sounds and tell musical stories in her own unique way while honoring the vocal styles of those great divas who trod the path before her like Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McCrae, Betty Carter, and her namesake, Ella Fitzgerald.
Some still consider Ella the country’s best kept secret, which she hopes to change with “By Request,” the 2nd CD documentation of her lovely voice. Ella’s first CD “Immaculate Union” is currently in its 3rd rotation on WRTI-FM Temple Public Radio in Philadelphia, PA. “By Request” has begun its rotation on the same station and is doing very well. This CD contains songs frequently requested by Ella’s “Jazzy” fans during her concerts. The CD was recorded live during Ella’s spectacular performance at Allens Lane Art Center in Philadelphia, PA during the Spring of 2006. Ella is backed by the wonderful talents of Joshua Richman on piano, Matt Turowski on bass and Ryan Vaughn on drums. This trio really swings and it’s Ella at her very best. The ballads are wonderfully lush and sung to perfection, and the uptempo tunes swing hard and take no prisoners! Look out for the Elegant Ms. Ella Gahnt – She's traveling at the speed of swing!
“Though listeners are often swept away by the sheer beauty of Ella Gahnt’s voice, Ella believes that her most important job is to convey the songwriter’s story to the audience, and she accomplishes this with taste, sensitivity, and some of the most sophisticated arrangements happening today.”
Greg Martino – Sedgwick Cultural Center, Philadelphia, PA
“Ella Gahnt, a jazz singer who’s been a part of the grass roots Philly Jazz scene for forever, will be a particular highlight.”
Jonathan Valania & Liz Spikol – Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia, PA
(Referring to EG’s performance in The Perelman Theatre, Kimmel Center’s Summer Solstice Celebration, Sunday, June 26, 2004)
“Ella Gahnt, attired in gold with a regal smile and the gift of radiant presence, took the stage and breezily sailed through a medley of jazz standards and original tunes with a crystal clear, octave-spanning voice that floated across the room. A professional singer since the age of 18, the quality of her sound told of a woman intimate with the craft of jazz vocalization.”
Bill Godfrey – Cape May Star and Wave, Cape May, NJ
“I have been monitoring Ella’s career for quite a while, and I’ve noticed that of late, other folks are beginning to take notice of her work, and her unusual vocal skills. I say unusual because it is unusual to hear great, or even very fine voices singing jazz and standard popular music these days. Ella’s voice ranges from a deep Marian Anderson-like, contralto, to coloratura soprano - a la Sarah Vaughn. The lady can command her voice to do tricks -meaningful vocal gymnastics, germane to the material she is performing.”
Bob Perkins – WRTI-FM - Temple Public Radio, Philadelphia, PA
“She’s Philly’s singing sensation...She’s Philly’s class act!”
Frank Johnson – Former Program Director, WRTI-FM - Temple Public Radio, Philadelphia, PA