Kelli Grant, the Queen of Swing™
TEXAS STATE MUSICIAN NOMINEE
Will Rogers Award - Female Vocalist of the Year '09
On September 22, 2009, the Queen of Swing™ WON the Will Rogers Award for Female Vocalist of the Year. An exciting and electrifying evening with Kelli’s surprise, disbelief and amazement leading her to ask the question,
“did you say, Kelli Grant?” ;o) The very prestigious award is named for one of America’s most beloved icons chosen by the Academy of Western Artist for the purpose of recognizing those who work diligently to preserve, educate and keep our Musical Heritage and it’s legacy present and alive for future generations.
Kelli has received numerous nominations and received an “Honorable Mention” from Billboard for an R&B original but never the winner. Now; she can add to her long list of credentials, AWARD WINNER! Of course, this is not to slight the nominations she has received. When there are literally thousands of eligible Candidates in the business, it is truly an honor to be one of the top 5. As Texas State Musician Nominee, if you are going to lose to someone, there is no shame when the recipient is Willie Nelson.
The CD that captured the attention of the Academy and brought about her highest honor is, "Swings & Sings". However, the CD was suppose to demonstrate her versatility as; not only a singer, since she was one of only 36 albums on the Grammy voting list for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album (Not Nominated) NO surprise when you’re among names such: Tony Bennett, Michael Buble, Bette Midler … etc. But this CD was to showcase her musicianship as the Swing Queen “swings” on several different instruments. As always Kelli is heard on piano and bass (her trademark style, Swing-a-Billy™) but this time she is also playing: Drums, Bari Sax, Clarinet, Organ, Banjo and whistles but her passion is singing. She is a music graduate receiving scholarships for Clarinet, Sax and voice.
Kelli's CD, "Swings & Sings" is a wonderful eclectic mix that "swings" East & West, with a diverse catalog, and career this CD focuses on Kelli, the musician. Recognized and Nominated by her piers for the coveted position of Texas State Musician, the CD demonstrates her versatility as a musician, swinging on several different instruments. She always plays on her CD's but this time we just sat back and turned on the recorder and let her play ... and play she did.
Included is a brand new cut on Kelli’s Texas tribute, “Don’t Mess With Texas” that meets radio format; shorter, 2:38. The previous version was dictated by the Texas Department of Transportation. With the release of this shorter version, Kelli has decided to donate all the proceeds of the “Don’t Mess With Texas” CD to the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Music Project. We hope you will add this cut to your play list. As it will stimulate the sales on the previous CD. And remember the PSA’s on your copy of that CD. “Let’s Keep Texas Beautiful.”
But the song everyone is talking about is, “Swing Me Back to Texas” which once again features the talents of a few Former Texas Playboys. Not only a former Playboy but President of the Steel Guitar Asso. is Albert Talley - Steel Guitar, Playboy “60‘s“; Johnny Patterson - lead guitar, Playboy ‘62-’63; Casey Dickens assisted on drums, Playboy ‘59 -’63; and George Uptmor on Fiddle. Although George never worked for Bob Wills, he is highly regarded as one of the best and has worked with a lot of the descendant bands including Leon Rausch and played on the Bi-Centennial CD for the state of Texas.
Of course, Kelli is playing her piano rhythm and left hand bassline which are the foundation to all of her recordings and the backbone of her band. You will also hear Kelli playing some of the most exciting piano rides I’ve ever heard. Not since her own rock-a-billy album, "Honky Tonk Rock" has she play such wonderful, exciting and gyrating leads. She has been known for her piano leads for quite awhile playing like that for other rock-a-billy artist: Mercury Recording artist & Rock-a-billy Hall of Famer, Roy Moss and the legendary, Groovy Joe Poovey. But that's not all she is playing; drums, clarinet, bari sax, organ, banjo and ... whistles on "Walking My Baby Back Home".
R&B legend, Carl Perkins, another excellent musician and Roy Moss took notice of Kelli’s unique piano style and tagged her, "the Queen of Swing," now a registered trademark. Kelli plays an unsurpassed left hand walking bassline coupled with an pulse driving right hand rhythm that “swings“ in the truest definition of the word; thus you have the one & only, "the Queen of Swing."
All of Kelli's CD's have a purpose or their own agenda:
Swing-a-Billy - Coming SOON! is a declaration of her signature style with Kelli playing all horn parts and drums
Rock-a-Billy U.S.A. - featuring the late great, Mr. Action, Roy Moss and Kelli swing-a-billy piano - 5 STAR Reviews!!
Swings & Sings - WILL ROGERS AWARD - FEMALE VOCALIST - the CD swings East to West validating her title &
nomination for Texas State Musician by playing: Piano, Bass, Organ, Clarinet, Bari-Sax, Banjo & Drums.
Honky Tonk Swing - Kelli received an "Honorable Mention" from Billboard for her R&B original,
"The Way Love Use to Be".
Don’t Mess With Texas - the title cut WOWED! The Texas Department of Transportation which issued a
Special license for use of their logo, a first for TxDot. Kelli also recorded PSA’s for their litter campaign
** “Don’t Mess With Texas” CD all proceeds are donated to the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Music Project
“Bag it! Trash it! Let’s keep Texas Beautiful” ~ Kelli Grant, the Queen of Swing™ ~
Softer Side of Swing - showcases Kelli’s low, sultry and passionate vocals. Classic pop style that is a softer
side of the Swing Queen; On the Grammy list for “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album” NOT Nominated
Blues to Me! - Recognized by some as one of the most comprehensive collections demonstrating the diverse
styles of the blues: Jump, Swing, Rhythm, Western and the low down dirty sounds of 'pure" blues,
showcasing Kelli's award winning songwriting talents
Swing ‘n Blues - is a reflection of her highly acclaimed original revue, "Swingin' the Blues". CD hailed for the
magnificent jazz improves by Kelli and her band, "the Swing Kings"
Swing Like That - a tribute to Texas Swing and it‘s innovator. Being from Texas & the Queen of Swing™, it was only
natural for this Texan to explore, research and record an album devoted to Texas Swing.
Kelli is on the Mid-America Arts Alliance touring roster with her performance fees subsidized by the National Endowment for the Arts.
This is an original presentation by an original artist. I can remember when bands and singers, worked very hard to create their own style and sound. Unfortunately, that seems to have disappeared. Nashville, L.A., New York are all presenting cloned sounds with artist indistinguishable from one another. I’m very happy that we represent such a talented artist; that not only, dreams an idea; but is, competent and talented enough, and determined to produce it and see it thru. Ladies & Gentlemen this is …
Kelli Grant, the Queen of Swing™
Johnny Patterson, Pres.
A note from Kelli:
I have really enjoyed working on this CD. I graduated in music receiving scholarships not only in voice; but also, Clarinet, Stageband (Alto Sax) and music theory. My Mom & Dad made a lot of sacrifices to buy a Buffet Clarinet for my birthday, which was very expensive. I am so glad that I finally took time to play, not only Clarinet but a few of the other instruments I have enjoyed playing in the past. My Mom would have been very proud. I played Eb Clarinet in high school & college concert band, a cute little miniature clarinet, covers the piccolo parts. I also play; guitar, drums, bass guitar, banjo, Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Oboe and organ, which was my first professional playing job as a musician, church organist. Since I had rather play by ear, it was hard telling what I would play. One Sunday morning a sweet little ol' lady came up and said, "that was so beautiful. What was the name of that song?" I smiled and said, ""When I was Twenty-One" by Frank Sinatra." She never asked me again and neither did anyone else. ;o) One of my favorite instruments is the bari-sax. I once played Bari Sax for the Miss Texas pageant. My first singing job was in a nasty little beer joint in Kilgore, The Capri lounge, a Taco Bell now sits on the spot, 5 whole dollars. Needless to say, my Mom & Dad were not as impressed. Especially, when my name appeared in the local paper. ;o) My Mom’s exact words were, "Oh, honey don't let them put your name in the paper." Was she proud? ;o)
One of my, first purchases was a Farfisa organ which had the bass pedals on the keyboard, 2 octaves. This was perfect since this is the way my Mom had taught me to play because my hands were too small to reach the octave and 10th‘s she played. I have been playing the bass with my lefthand ever since. Who knew at 7, my Mom would give me a signature piano style that would bring such accolades. When I first realized that people were referring to me as a Swing musician, I really didn’t understand why. Like so many, I thought of “swing” as big band music and I normally worked a trio, add a Sax/Clarinet maybe but not a “BIG BAND”. And because of that misunderstanding; on my part, I did not even publicize the tag for many years. But in writing my original revue, “Swingin’ the Blues” I did extensive research. Mainly, for a clever and unique way to introduce the next song on the program. I wanted to know who had recorded the song and who’s who and why the title; Benny Goodman, the King of Swing; Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing; The Count, The Duke & the King of Jazz. With this research, I finally realized that “big band” was only a reference to the entity that performed the music. So … what is “swing”?
Well, I learned there are 3 major characteristics that separate “swing” from other musical styles such as: “the Blues”, a waltz, Cha-Cha, March … etc.
1. "Swing Beat" with the bass drum changing from a 2 to an accented 4 pattern
2. "Walking Bass line" in sync & amplifying the bass drum pattern
3. "riffs" (unison or harmonic rhythms used an accompaniment or lead)“
I have done so much research and written several shows about “swing,” and it’s descendents, which entwines with “the Blues,” that I am considered to be;
somewhat of an expert, receiving an invitation to be a “Table Top Speaker” at the Texas Arts Exchange Conference. With this research, I finally realized why my piano style and why musicians were tagging me, “the Queen of Swing.”
There are a couple of songs also included that are NOT swing but they are very special and personal to me. "One Heart to Give" is a sweet little waltz about my Mom & Dad's life; how they met, marriage of 50 plus years and the grief my Dad suffered; as we all did, when my Mom passed away. It took me along time to write this song as it did for me to record.
The other non-swing number is, "Stand Up for the U.S.A." which was written as a gift to my Dad who served aboard the USS Core Aircraft Carrier. My tribute recitation to the Greatest Generation and our troops, "I Wouldn't Go..." is a FREE download at my website and www.ThreeStarPromotions.net.
~ Kelli Grant ~