Grace Kelly (musician)

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Grace Kelly
Jamie Cullum & Grace Kelly.JPG
Grace Kelly on right, with Jamie Cullum, after opening the 2010 George Wein Newport Jazz Festival
Background information
Birth name Grace Chung
Born (1992-05-15) May 15, 1992 (age 22)
Wellesley, Massachusetts, United States
Origin Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Genres Jazz,singer/songwriter,pop,blues,R&B,rock,funk
Occupation(s) Musician, composer,saxophone, singer, arranger, educator
Instruments Saxophone, vocals
Years active 1994–present

Grace Kelly (born Grace Chung; May 15, 1992)[1] is a musician, entertainer, songwriter and arranger. Kelly became the youngest ever musician voted to the Down Beat Magazine's Critics Poll at age 16.[2] At 18 she released her sixth album, Man with the Hat, a collaboration with jazz legend Phil Woods.


Early life[edit]

Born Grace Chung, in Wellesley, Massachusetts to Korean parents, she moved to Brookline, MA when she was two years old. Her mother remarried in 1997 to Robert Kelly, who legally adopted Grace a few years later, thus changing her name to Grace Kelly.[1] Kelly was brought up in a family that greatly appreciates music and the arts.

Discovering the saxophone[edit]

Kelly grew up in a household that appreciated music, especially the American Songbook, Broadway and jazz. Her parents used to play Stan Getz at Sunday brunch and she fell in love with "The Sound". She wanted to play saxophone but was too young at the time. Kelly began taking classical piano lessons at age six, but changed to jazz because she liked making up her own melodies instead of playing what was written on the page. Kelly wrote her first song On My Way Home at age seven.[3] In 4th grade, Kelly took up playing the clarinet through her elementary school, but switched over to saxophone privately later that year. At age 12, Kelly recorded her first CD, Dreaming. While in the recording stages Kelly met Ann Hampton Callaway, a renowned jazz cabaret singer who offered to write the liner notes to Grace's first CD. Of Kelly, she said "Her sensitivity, control and focus as an alto saxophonist is impressive. When I played some songs of hers for the legendary drummer Victor Lewis, he said, 'Wow I love her sound.'"[1]


She left Brookline High School at age 16, earned her GED, and began study at Berklee College of Music on full scholarship, where she graduated December 2011 with a degree in Professional Music. Kelly studies or has studied saxophone with George Garzone, Lee Konitz, Greg Osby, Jerry Bergonzi, and Allan Chase.[1]


At age 14, Kelly appeared as special guest artist for two nights with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops 2007 Jazz Series. One of the selections Kelly performed was her award winning composition Every Road I Walked which she also arranged for the entire Pops orchestra.[4]

Kelly opened the 2010 Newport Jazz Festival playing alongside Jamie Cullum.

She has performed in venues in the North America, Europe and Asia including Carnegie Hall, Rose Hall at JALC, Birdland, Kennedy Center, Detroit Jazz Festival, Blues Alley, Newport Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Toronto Jazz Festival, Boston Symphony Hall, Jazz Standard, 50th Grammy Awards (After party), Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival, Ronnie Scotts, Duc des Lombard, Porgy & Bess.[4]


Kelly has recorded and/or performed with Harry Connick, Jr. Questlove, Wynton Marsalis, Huey Lewis, David Sanborn, Gloria Estefan, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Dave Brubeck, Hank Jones, Esperanza Spalding, Keith Lockhart, Frank Morgan, Jonathan Batiste, Michael League (Snarky Puppy), Kenny Barron, Cedar Walton, Marian McPartland, Russell Malone, Rufus Reid, Matt Wilson, Ann Hampton Callaway, Jerry Bergonzi, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dianne Reeves, Chris Potter, Adam Rogers, Christian Scott, Peter Bernstein, James Cotton, Jamie Cullum, Monty Alexander, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Geri Allen, among others.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Artist quotes[edit]

"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

"I first met Grace Kelly at the 2006 summer jazz program at Stanford University. I was amazed at her precocity and talent. Recently she sat in with me and the Jazz Ambassadors Jazz Band at the Pittsfield Jazz Fest. and we jammed together through "I'll Remember April." How did she sound? I gave her my hat! That is how good she sounded! She is the first alto player to get one. Hooray for the future of jazz and the alto sax!" "Ten years ago I was asked by someone where the new Bird was going to come from. I said, half-jokingly, that it might be a dwarf, Albino woman from Africa. Jazz seems to be floundering right now, and we don't have a clear-cut leader. Maybe Grace Kelly is the one. You just never know." … Phil Woods

"Ms. Kelly is a phenomenon – not a precociously talented child, but a complete improvising musician. With Konitz, one of the great individualists in jazz, she is a peer." ……Doug Ramsey- Rifftides

"Grace had invited me to play a few tunes on her new CD but once we got into the studio there were many inspired moments and it turned out to be a whole Cd on its own. I gave her permission to play better than I, if she just couldn't stand it anymore. Grace is a fearless young improviser, and besides that she is fun to be around." …..Lee Konitz

"The future of our music is in good hands." …..Jimmy Heath

"Well after reading the glowing reviews from many of my peers on your CD jacket I expected something special, but words can only do so much justice toward introducing your talents and obvious dedication to music. It simply has to be know how to get to the essence of swing, sound, and true improvisation and whether you are playing or singing or composing this essence shines through and is the sign of a true artist at work. It also goes without saying, that you have a maturity far beyond your years. I look forward to following your career. I really think you will have a big impact on the music world." ….. Randy Brecker

"Grace Kelly is a unique and genuine talent. Great young performers are nothing new, but someone who possesses such ease of expression and musical personality at such an early stage of her career is a find, indeed. I can't wait to see what her future holds!" …Keith Lockhart

Critics quotes[edit]

"Kelly does have a lovely tone, at her best she tends to avoid cliches in her playing, she has a knack for clever arrangements, she even writes decent tunes. Her singing is no match for her sax playing, though it's not terrible, just a lot closer to pop and MOR than what we think of as jazz. Her lyrics are mostly what you'd expect from someone her age, a bit naive and not all that interesting. In short, Kelly is not breaking any new ground and may not even as she matures." "...What's not so easy to figure is how long she'll remain so popular given the calculated style of show she put on in Ottawa Friday." Doug Fischer[5]

"It's a blessing from the gods, this kind of talent, and when we see it in someone young, we marvel at the contrast: a child with the outsize abilities of an adult." Todd Leopold [6]

"Grace is rapidly making her way up in the jazz music world. Grace's talents far outstrip others her age . . . So proclaims the teenagers web site. And this is no generic MySpace page, but (like everything associated with Ms. Kelly) a slick, professional presentation... Ah, I wish I was more impressed with Grace Kelly's saxophone playing. I have been told many times that I should be impressed with it." Ted Goia[7]

"What if I told you that the future of jazz, which many have pronounced dead or dying in the last two decades, rested in the hands of a 16-year-old Korean American saxophonist named Grace Kelly? ….I’ve heard the future of jazz and it is Grace Kelly.” ....David Was, NPR’s Day to Day[8]

"Jazz has had its share of prodigies over the years, as well as players – Miles Davis was one – who established their creative credentials while they were barely out of their teens …..few teenage horn players, and even fewer who are female, have drawn much attention in recent years. With the exception, that is, of Grace Kelly, a 15-year-old alto saxophonist and singer Grace Kelly. Grace plays with stunning maturity and an extraordinary command of her instrument." ....Don Heckman, Special to The LA Times[9]

"I love this record…This young lady has bags of talent." ....Michael Jackson, Downbeat[10]

"Has she really got it? …. The answer turns out to be, yes." ....William Ruhlman, JazzTimes[11]

"What gave the evening a "star is born" dramatic tension was the playing of an amazing alto saxophonist, Grace Kelly." ....Mike Drew, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel[12]

"Grace Kelly is still on. No mere flash in the pan, Grace Kelly is here to stay." ....Ken Dryden, All About Jazz[13]

"To say that Kelly plays with maturity beyond her years is to make the understatement of the decade. She has a strong, bright, centered sound, great harmonic and melodic command, and time and technique to burn... Make no mistake; Ms. Kelly[14] has got the goods." ....Billy Kerr, Saxophone Journal

Awards and distinguished honors[edit]

  • Glamour Magazines 2011 Top 10 College Woman Competition Winner[15]
  • Youngest ever named three times in the annual Downbeat Magazines 2009, 2010, and 2011 Critics Poll as one of the Alto Saxophone Rising Stars[16][17][18]
  • Recipient of the ASCAP Foundation 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 Young Jazz Composers Award[19][20][21]
  • Winner Jimmy Woode Award Saxophone Soloist, Tuscia in Jazz Italy[22]
  • Finalist 2009 Jazz A Juan Revelations, Les Pins, France
  • Voted "Best Jazz Act" in Boston four consecutive years 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 FNX/Phoenix Best Music Poll[23][24][25][26]
  • "Outstanding Jazz Act of the Year" 2008 Boston Music Awards[27][28]
  • Finalist 2009 ISC International Songwriting Contest "But Life Goes On" – First ever recipient of the "Brad Delp Rising Star Award" – 2009 Limelight Magazine Music Awards[29]
  • Recipient of the 2008 Francis B. Lanier Award NEC Prep School (Youngest ever and first non-classical musician to receive the award.)[25]
  • Performed winning composition "Every Road I Walked" at the 2007 ASCAP Foundation Annual Awards in New York.[25]
  • 2006–2009 Winner of twelve (12) Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards. Jazz Soloist, Jazz Vocalist, Pop/Rock Blues Soloist, Composition, Extended Composition, Arrangement[30][31][32]
  • Recipient of the Berklee College of Music Superior Musicianship Award at 2007 Berklee High School Jazz Festival
  • Youngest ever winner of Fish Middleton Jazz Scholarship at the 2006 East Coast Jazz Festival.[25]
  • Winner of International Songwriting Competition ISC 2008 for her composition "101"[25]
  • Winner of two International Songwriting Competitions in 2006 & 2007 for her composition "Filosophical Flying Fish" (Every Road I Walked)[33]
  • Judged the top woodwind soloist and the top vocal alto soloist at the 2007 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival[34]
  • 2008 Gibson/Baldwin Grammy Jazz Ensemble[35]
  • 2007 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead at the Kennedy Center in Wash. D.C.[36]
  • 2007 Steans Institute at Ravinia,
  • 2006, 2007 and 2008 Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony[37][38][39]
  • 2006, 2007 and 2008 Stanford Jazz Residency Program.[40][41]


Film credits[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Grace Kelly". Jazz at Lincoln Center. 
  2. ^ "Down Beat Critics Poll 2009". Down Beat Magazine. 
  3. ^ Henderson, Alex. "Grace Kelly". AllMusic. 
  4. ^ a b c "Grace Kelly". The Boston Phoenix. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Leopold, Todd. "The making of a prodigy". CNN. 
  7. ^ Goia, Ted. "Who is Grace Kelly?". 
  8. ^ Was, David. "The New Grace Kelly, A Young Jazz Star". NPR. 
  9. ^ Heckman, Don (February 13, 2008). "Yes, theres room for another Grace Kelly". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ Jackson, Michael (November 2008). "Grace Kelly/Lee Konitz GracefulLee". DownBeat Magazine. 
  11. ^ Ruhlmann, William (October 2008). "GRACEfulLEE". Jazz Times. 
  12. ^ Drew, Mike (May 13, 2007). "Jazz Great Morgan Wows Home Crowd". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. 
  13. ^ Dryden, Ken. "GRACEfulLEE". All About Jazz. 
  14. ^ "Ascap Young Composers Awards 2007". Ascap. 
  15. ^ "Top 10 Women". Glamour Magazine. 
  16. ^ "57th Annual Critics Poll". Down Beat Magazine. 
  17. ^ "". 
  18. ^ "59th Annual Critics Poll". Downbeat Magazine. 
  19. ^ "Ascap Young Jazz Composers Awards 2008". Ascap. 
  20. ^ "Ascap Young Jazz Composers Awards 2010". Ascap. 
  21. ^ "Ascap Young Composers Awards 2011". Ascap. 
  22. ^ "Tusciain Jazz Past Winners". Tuscian Jazz. 
  23. ^ "2010 Best Jazz Acts". The Boston Phoenix. 
  24. ^ "2009 Best Jazz Act". The Boston Phoenix. 
  25. ^ a b c d e "Grace Kelly". All About Jazz. 
  26. ^ "Best Jazz Act 2011". The Boston Phoenix. 
  27. ^ "Winners List". December 5, 2008. 
  28. ^ "2010 Winners List". December 3, 2010. 
  29. ^ "International Songwriters Competition Winners". 
  30. ^ "Student Music Awards". Down Beat Magazine. 
  31. ^ "Grace Kelly wins four student music awards". 
  32. ^ Balkin, Nick. "Berklee World Jazz Nonet Performs in DC". 
  33. ^ Symister-Masterson, Cheryl. "CD Title: Every Road I Walked". 
  34. ^ "Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival 2007, February 21–24.". 
  35. ^ "News". 
  36. ^ "10th ANNIVERSARY OF BETTY CARTER'S JAZZ AHEAD". Kennedy Center. 
  37. ^ "2006 Summer Jazz Colony participants". University of the Pacific. 
  38. ^ "2007 Summer Jazz Colony participants". University of The Pacific. 
  39. ^ "2008 Summer Jazz Colony Participants". University of The Pacific. 
  40. ^ "News in the Stanford Jazz Community & Beyond". 
  41. ^ "Students and Faculty". 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]