Not many graduates of the Berklee School of Music already have seven solo albums under their belt. Fewer yet have shared the stage with Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Phil Woods, Harry Connick Jr., Jamie Cullum, Frank Morgan, Esperanza Spalding, Toots Thielemans, and dozens of other jazz luminaries. Perhaps most incredibly, she is all of 19 years old. Kelly has been voted “Best Jazz Act” in Boston four consecutive years in the FNX/Phoenix Best Music Poll, received the ASCAP Foundation’s Young Jazz Composers Award in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 and won “Jazz Artist of the Year” at the Boston Music Awards in both 2008 and 2010. The 2009, 2010, and 2011 Downbeat Critics Poll named her one of the “Alto Saxophone Rising Stars”, the youngest ever to be named so.
Born into a strong musical family, Grace started piano lessons at age six. She picked up the clarinet in the fourth grade, adding private saxophone lessons a few months later. Further inspiration was added when Grace met vocalist Ann Hampton Callaway, who was an early champion of hers. Middle school band director Ken Berman urged Grace to record, and the result was her debut album, Dreaming, released in 2004 when Grace was 12 years old. Shortly after this, Grace started studying with saxophone great Lee Konitz.
Since then, Grace Kelly has played over 500 concerts at venues like the Montreal Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and others. She recently began a teaching residency at the Berklee School of Music. And the best is clearly yet to come. In the words of Jimmy Heath, “The future of our music is in good hands.”
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“Grace Kelly plays with intelligence, wit and feeling. She has a great amount of natural ability and the ability to adapt that is the hallmark of a first-class jazz musician.” –Wynton Marsalis
“She is not an artist for Jazz lovers only but one for the whole world.” –Monty Alexander