Grace Kelly (musician)

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Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly
Kelly in 2015
Background information
Birth nameGrace Chung
Born (1992-05-15) May 15, 1992 (age 28)
Wellesley, Massachusetts, US
OriginBoston, Massachusetts
GenresJazz, electro jazz pop
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger, educator
InstrumentsSaxophones (alto, soprano, baritone), vocals
Years active2004–present
LabelsPAZZ Productions

Grace Kelly (born Grace Chung; May 15, 1992)[1] is an American musician, songwriter, and arranger. Kelly has produced and released recordings of her own, scored soundtracks, and tours with her band. She was named one of Glamour magazine's Top 10 College Women in 2011;[2] and she has been featured on[3] and on the NPR radio shows Piano Jazz with both Marian McPartland and Jon Weber, as well as on WBGO's JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater.[4]

David Sanborn, Grace Kelly and Marcus Miller

Working professionally since she was a preteen, Kelly was dubbed a prodigy in the jazz world.[3][5][6][7] In 2014, Kelly worked with the producer Stewart Levine on her EP, Working for the Dreamers, which was released in September of that year.[8]

She was featured in the December 2015 issue of Vanity Fair as a significant millennial in the jazz world.[9] Kelly was named "Rising Star – Alto Saxophone" in DownBeat's 2016 Critics Poll.[10] Her Trying to Figure It Out (2016 PAZZ) release was voted the number-two Jazz Album of the Year in the 2016 DownBeat readers' poll.[11]

Early life and education[edit]

Born Grace Chung in Wellesley, Massachusetts, to Korean parents, she moved to Brookline, Massachusetts, when she was 2 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 wrote her first song "On My Way Home" at age seven.[12] Kelly counts it a major breakthrough in her career when singer/songwriter Fred Taylor approached her after she sat in with vocalist Ann Hampton Callaway at Sculler's.[13] He offered to book her first headlining show at a major jazz venue.[13]

Kelly left Brookline High School at age 16 and earned her GED. After studying in the Jazz Department of New England Conservatory of Music's School of Preparatory Education, she enrolled at Berklee College of Music, where she graduated in December 2011 with a bachelor of arts in professional music at age 19.[14] Kelly studies or has studied saxophone with Jeremy Udden, James Merenda,[15] George Garzone, Lee Konitz, Greg Osby, Jerry Bergonzi, and Allan Chase.[1]


On March 15, 2005, when she was just 12, Kelly released her first CD, Dreaming.[16] While in the recording stages, Kelly met Ann Hampton Callaway, a jazz cabaret singer, who offered to write the liner notes to Kelly's first CD.[1] Grace won numerous ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards. Grace previously won the "Jazz Artist of the Year" for the third time at the 2016 Boston Music Awards'[17] she had won the same award in 2008 and 2010. She was voted alto saxophonist of the year by the 2016 NYC Jazz Fans Decision Award.[18]


In 2009, she played with the Foxboro High School Jazz Ensemble and Dave Brubeck for the "Let Freedom Swing/Celebration Of America" concert held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.[19]

In 2009, Kelly was selected by the Boston Celtics to play the national anthem at the TD Garden for preseason and play-off games.[20]

For the Kennedy Center's 15th Annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, in 2010, Kelly performed as part of an all-star quintet of Dee Dee Bridgewater, Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Esperanza Spalding for a set that celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mary Lou Williams's birth.[21]

In 2012, Kelly was selected to perform at the 30th Annual NEA Jazz Masters Ceremony with Phil Woods and Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.[22]


At 15, Kelly and NEA jazz master Lee Konitz recorded the album, GRACEfulLEE. The album gained a 4 1/2-star review from DownBeat.[23]

At 18, she released her sixth album, Man with the Hat, recorded as a collaboration with another NEA jazz master Phil Woods.[21] The title of the album honors Woods, who has had a signature leather cap as his trademark since 1976.[24] The title of the album also refers to when Woods invited Kelly, when she was 14 years old, on stage during one of his performances and presented her with his iconic leather cap as a gift after her solo on "I'll Remember April".[25]

In 2017, when she recorded Go Time: Brooklyn 2, Kelly had Leo Pellegrino as a guest.[26] On November 30, 2019, Pellegrino and Kelly announced the official formation of a new "group, a band... a collaboration" called 2SAXY, which would consist of a duet between Kelly on alto saxophone and Pellegrino on baritone saxophone.[27]


Kelly's 2013 single "Sweet Sweet Baby", recorded for the Woodward Avenue Records label, reached number 7 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Singles chart.[28] The track was also included on the label's 9 Mile Road compilation.[29]

Film and television[edit]

Kelly is a featured performer in the 2014 documentary Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story, co-produced by author Michael Connelly and directed by N.C. Heikin.[30] In the documentary, she performs "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as part of a tribute concert held in San Quentin State Prison, where Frank Morgan was incarcerated at different times in his life.[31] The documentary had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 14, 2014[32] and was followed the next day by a tribute concert at the Grammy Museum, featuring Kelly, George Cables, Ron Carter, Mark Gross, and Roy McCurdy.[30][33] The documentary was selected for multiple additional film festivals, including the 2014 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival,[34] the 2014 Maine International Film Festival,[35] the 2014 Virginia Film Festival,[36] the 2014 Atlanta Film Festival,[37] the 2015 Palm Springs International Film Festival,[38] and the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.[39]

Kelly has performed many times with jazz musician Jon Batiste and his band Stay Human as the house band for the New York City-based late night television show The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as well as at other New York City locations.[40][41][42]

Kelly released her tenth CD, Trying to Figure It Out, in 2016; it includes the track "Blues For Harry Bosch", a composition written for the produced television series Bosch. In the second season, episode 2, of the series, Kelly is featured, as herself,[43] performing "Blues For Harry Bosch" in a scene in front of main character Harry Bosch Titus Welliver and his Lieutenant Amy Aquino filmed at the Catalina Jazz Club.[44]

Kelly was Executive Producer and music composer of the 2017 short film The Bird Who Could Fly, directed by Raphael Sbarge, written by Robert Munic and Raphael Sbarge. The film won multiple awards in the "Asians on Film Festival of Shorts 2016 Fall Quarter".[45]

Charity work[edit]

The song, a pop anthem she co-wrote and recorded, called "She's the First", is said to be "The girl-anthem of our dreams." by Glamour [46] Then, with upcoming director Carla Dauden, and submissions from "She's the First" students and supporters around the world, turned it into a music video.[46]

Kelly in partnership with Berklee College of Music established the Fred Taylor Scholarship Fund[47] by producing, emceeing, and performing at an all-star benefit concert[48] at the Berklee Performance Center on September 12, 2017, raising enough funds to establish an endowed scholarship fund.[49]


As leader[edit]

As sidewoman[edit]

With The Manhattan Transfer

    • The Junction (2018) When asked about her personal favorite song on the new CD, Bentyne said, "I love every single song because each song represents us as a whole. We all participated in writing. So I will say, today 'Blues For Harry Bosch.' I heard this wild, wonderful; sax player, Grace Kelly on YouTube and her video for this piece was thrilling!"[50]

With Terri Lyne Carrington

    • The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul (Concord/Universal, 2015)

With Vance Gilbert

With Bill Bandfield's Jazz Urbane

With Bob Dorough

With Various Artists

Film credits[edit]

  • The Bird Who Could Fly (2017) Director: Raphael Sbarge, Writers: Robert Munic and Raphael Sbarge, Executive Producer: Grace Kelly, Composer: Grace Kelly [52]
  • Bosch (2016, Season 2 Episode 2) Director: Alex Zakrzewski, Writer: Joe Gonzalez
  • Starcrossed (2015) Director: Chase Mohseni; starring Mischa Barton, Eric Roberts, Grant Harvey. Musical contributions by Kelly.
  • Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story (2014) Producer: James Egan; Director: NC Heikin documentary about alto saxophonist Frank Morgan (musician) and premiered at Los Angeles Film Festival in 2014. Executive produced and script by best selling novelist Michael Connelly. Interview and music performed by Kelly alongside Ron Carter, Ed Reed, George Cables, Delfeayo Marsalis, Marvin Smith, Mark Gross among others.
  • Delta Rising (2009) Directors: Michael Afendakis, Laura Bernieri; a blues documentary featuring Willie Nelson, Morgan Freeman and others. Performance by Kelly.
  • Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009) Director: Damien Chazelle. Musical contribution by Kelly.
  • Men in Green (2009) Producers: John Ippolito, Laura Bernieri (also Director); a behind-the-scenes documentary with the legends of the Boston Celtics hosted by Satch Sanders. Film score composed and performed by Kelly.

Music videos[edit]

List of music videos
Song Date released
"Sweet Sweet Baby" November 26, 2011
"Ready Set Stay" April 24, 2013
"Eggshells" June 25, 2013
"Working For The Dreamers" September 24, 2014
"Blues For Harry Bosch" March 22, 2016
"She's The First" November 1, 2016


  • 2016 Winner 64th Annual Downbeat Critics Poll[53]


  1. ^ a b c d "Grace Kelly". Jazz at Lincoln Center.
  2. ^ Struhl, Jessica (September 7, 2011). "Top Ten College Women: The Musician". Glamour. Archived from the original on October 26, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Leopold, Todd (February 12, 2012). "The making of a prodigy". Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  4. ^ "Grace Kelly on NPR".
  5. ^ Was, David. "The New Grace Kelly, A Young Jazz Star". NPR.
  6. ^ Williamson, Don. "GRACEfulLEE by Grace Kelly & Lee Konitz". Jazz Review.
  7. ^ Fischer, Doug. "Grace Kelly in the NAC Fourth Stage (concert review by Doug Fischer)". Ottawa Citizen.
  8. ^ Duckett, Richard. "Grace Kelly offers fresh take on jazz for a new generation". Worcester Telegram. Gatehouse Media. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  9. ^ Friedwald, Will. "These Millennials Are Shaking Up the Jazz World". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  10. ^ Lutz, Phillip (August 2016). "Grace Kelly Jazz Is A Mixable Genre". Downbeat Magazine.
  11. ^ "Jazz Album of the Year". DownBeat. Vol. 83 no. 12. December 2016. p. 38.
  12. ^ Henderson, Alex. "Grace Kelly". AllMusic.
  13. ^ a b Jeremy D. Goodwin (June 13, 2019). "Benefit show is a thank-you to Fred Taylor and all that jazz". Boston Globe. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  14. ^ Goodwin, Jeremy. "Grace Kelly Is Figuring It Out On The Fly". WBUR FM. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
  15. ^ "14-Year-Old Sax Prodigy Grace Kelly Set for Stardom". Sibelius. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  16. ^ "Grace Kelly - Dreaming: product details". Amazon. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  17. ^ "2016 Boston Music Awards".
  18. ^ "2016 NYC Jazz Fans Decision Award".
  19. ^ Beverelli, Luigi (January 22, 2009). "Jazz at Lincoln Center: Let Freedom Swing! A Celebration of America". Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  20. ^ "Grace Kelly performs National Anthem at Boston Celtics 2009 playoff game". Grace Kelly Music.
  21. ^ a b Pulliam, Becca. "Mary Lou Williams Festival All-Star Quintet On JazzSet". National Public Radio. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  22. ^ "National Endowment for the Arts Celebrates 30th Anniversary of NEA Jazz Masters Program with Special Performances".
  23. ^ "DownBeat Best CDs of The 2000s" (PDF). DownBeat Magazine. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 23, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  24. ^ Koert, Hans. "Grace Kelly - Phil Woods - Man With The Hat". Blogger. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  25. ^ McClenaghan, Glenn. "Grace Kelly: Every Road I Walked".
  26. ^ "Premiere: Watch a Video from Grace Kelly's 'GO Time: Brooklyn'".
  27. ^
  28. ^ a b "Billboard Smooth Jazz Chart for 3/11 to 4/8/2013". Billboard. April 13, 2013.
  29. ^ Black, Brent. "9 Mile Road. Woodward Ave. 2013". Bop-N-Jazz. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  30. ^ a b Peck, Claude (December 4, 2013). "Bestseller Michael Connelly Making Frank Morgan Jazz Biopic". Star Tribune.
  31. ^ Scherstul, Alan. "Sax Great Frank Morgan Soars and Scores in the Moving Musical Doc 'Sound of Redemption'". Village Voice. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  32. ^ Easterhouse, Jim. "'The Frank Morgan Story' sounds like a fine fit at L.A. Film Festival". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  33. ^ "News About Sound of Redemption". Retrieved January 7, 2016. Los Angeles Film Festival....June 14 – World Premiere Screening, 6:50pm, Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live...June 15 – Frank Morgan Tribute Concert at the Grammy Museum, 2-4pm
  34. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  35. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Maine International Film Festival. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  36. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Virginia Film Festival. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  37. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Atlanta Film Festival. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  38. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Palm Springs International Film Festival. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  39. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Vancouver International Film Festival. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  40. ^ "Grace Kelly @ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in New York, NY". Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  41. ^ "[e]xcited to join Jon Batiste and Stay Human on Late night w Ste..." December 7, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  42. ^ "Jon Batiste and Stay Human with special guests Grace Kelly and Brandon Niederauer at Webster Hall NY". YouTube. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  43. ^ The Thing About Secrets -- full cast at IMDb
  44. ^ Cummings-Grady, Mackenzie. "Brookline sax player Grace Kelly ready for close-up". Boston Globe Media Partners. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  45. ^ "Asians On Film Awards". Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  46. ^ a b Shay Maunz (November 2, 2016). "This Music Video Stars Inspiring Girls From All Over the World: Musician Grace Kelly wrote the girl-power anthem of our dreams to celebrate nonprofit She's the First". Glamour magazine. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  47. ^ "Join us". Fred Taylor scholarship fund. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  48. ^ James Sullivan (September 8, 2017). "An all-star outpouring for Fred Taylor". Boston Globe. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  49. ^ "Support the Fred Taylor Endowed Scholarship Fund". Berklee College. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  50. ^ Markos Papadatos (March 1, 2018). "The Manhattan Tr-ansfer discuss new jazz album 'The Junction' SPECIAL". Digital Journal. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  51. ^ Kendall Deflin (April 22, 2019). "Vulfpeck Offshoot The Fearless Flyers Announce New Record, Release First Single". Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  52. ^ The Bird Who Could Fly -- full cast at IMDb
  53. ^ Phillip Lutz (August 2016). "Grace Kelly: 'Jazz is a Mixable Genre'". Downbeat magazine. Retrieved June 26, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]