Grace Kelly (musician)

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Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly, in 2015
Background information
Birth nameGrace Chung
Born (1992-05-15) May 15, 1992 (age 27)
Wellesley, Massachusetts, United States
OriginBoston, Massachusetts, United States
GenresJazz, Electro jazz pop, Blues
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, entertainer, , composer, songwriter, arranger, educator
InstrumentsVocals, Saxophones,(alto, soprano, baritone), piano, keyboard, flute, clarinet, Yamaha Venova, percussion
Years active2004–present
LabelsPAZZ Productions

Grace Kelly (born Grace Chung; May 15, 1992)[1] is an American musician, singer, entertainer, 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 has been 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 notable millennial in the jazz world.[9]

In her eighth year in a row being named to the Downbeat Critics Poll, Kelly won the 2016 64th Annual Downbeat Critics Poll "Rising Star Alto Saxophone"[10]

Grace's 10th album release as a leader, Trying To Figure It Out (2016 PAZZ), was voted the number-two Jazz Album of the Year in the 2016 DownBeat readers' poll.

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.[11] 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.[12] He offered to book her first headlining show at a major jazz venue.[12]

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.[13] Kelly studies or has studied saxophone with Jeremy Udden, James Merenda,[14] 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.[15] While in the recording stages, Kelly met Ann Hampton Callaway, a jazz cabaret singer, who offered to write the liner notes to Grace'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'[16] 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.[17]


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.[18]

The next year, Wynton Marsalis invited her to play with Dave Brubeck for the "Let Freedom Swing/Celebration Of America" concert held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the inaugural festivities for US President Barack Obama.[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, Grace 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]

She has performed in venues in the North America, South 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, and Porgy & Bess.[18]


At 15, Kelly and NEA jazz master Lee Konitz recorded the album, GRACEfulLEE. The album went on to garner 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" of her "GO TiME Series" Grace had Leo Pellegrino as a special guest and on a video ""Fish & Chips"". that Buzzfeed said "This dancing sax duo is giving me life". And Downbeat Magazine posted a great "review". of their collaboration


Kelly's 2013 single "Sweet Sweet Baby", recorded for the Woodward Avenue Records label, reached number 7 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Singles chart.[26] The track was also included on the label's 9 Mile Road compilation.[27]

Film and television[edit]

Kelly is a featured performer in the 2014 documentary film Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story, co-produced by author Michael Connelly and directed by N.C. Heikin.[28] In the documentary, she performs "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as part of a tribute concert held in San Quentin State Prison, where the late Frank Morgan was incarcerated at different times in his life.[29]

The documentary had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 14, 2014[30] 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.[28][31]

The documentary was selected for multiple additional film festivals, including the 2014 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival,[32] the 2014 Maine International Film Festival,[33] the 2014 Virginia Film Festival,[34] the 2014 Atlanta Film Festival,[35] the 2015 Palm Springs International Film Festival,[36] and the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.[37] First theatrical release at the IFC Center in New York City on December 2, 2015.[29]

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.[38][39][40] Kelly also performed in the house band for the 2016 NBC-TV Show Maya & Marty, a variety show produced by Lorne Michaels.[citation needed]

Kelly released her tenth CD, Trying To Figure It Out on February 19, 2016 which 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,[41] 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.[42]

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[43] at the Asianonfilm. Winner Best Director - Sbarge; Best Drama; Best Ensemble Cast; Best Original Script - Munic and Sbarge; and Supporting Actor Rob Yang.[citation needed]

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 [44] Then, with upcoming director Carla Dauden, and submissions from "She's the First" students and supporters around the world, turned it into an incredible music video.[44] All net proceeds from this song are donated to this nonprofit organization. Nonprofit She's the First, a partner of Glamour's philanthropic arm, The Girl Project, gives scholarships to girls in low-income communities all over the globe, helping them become the first member of their family to graduate from school. The video features dozens of those amazing She's the First scholars singing along to the song's inspiring lyrics.

Kelly in partnership with Berklee College of Music established the Fred Taylor Scholarship Fund[45] by producing, emceeing, and performing at an all-star benefit concert[46] at the Berklee Performance Center on September 12, 2017, raising enough funds to establish an endowed scholarship fund.[47]


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!"[48]

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 [49]
  • 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 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

List of music videos date released
Song Year
"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

Awards and distinctions[edit]

2018 Winner 2018 John Lennon Award - Country Category - "Feels Like Home"

2018 winner John Lennon Songwriting Contest - Grand Prize Country category - "Feels Like Home"

2018 Finalist Unsigned Only Song Contest, Vocal Performance Category, “Feels Like Home”

2018 Finalist Unsigned Only Song Contest, Folk Singer/songwriter Category “Feels Like Home”

2018 Finalist Leaf Music Song Contest “Feels Like Home”

2017 International Songwriting Contest, 2nd place Adult Contemporary – “She's The First”

2016 “Jazz Artist of the Year” Boston Music Awards

2016 Downbeat Magazine Readers Poll #2 Jazz Album of the Year “Trying To Figure It Out”

2016 Winner NYC Jazz Fans Decision – Alto Saxophonist of the Year

2016 Winner 64th Annual Downbeat Critics Poll[50]

2016 International Songwriting Competition, HM for lyrics, “Trying To Figure It Out”

Winner New England Music Awards – Jazz Act of the Year 2013

Winner NATIONAL Jazz Act Of The Year in 2012 Phoenix “Best Music Poll”

“Top Ten College Women 2011”, Glamour Magazine 54th annual competition winner.

Named nine times in the Annual Downbeat Magazines Critics Poll “Rising Star Alto Saxophone, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 (Youngest Ever named to critics poll in 2009)

Nominated “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” 2013 SiriusXM Watercolors

Downbeat Magazine Readers Poll Named Alto Saxophone, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017

– Recipient of the ASCAP Foundation 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Young Jazz Composers Award

– Voted “Best Jazz Act” in Boston four consecutive years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 FNX/Phoenix Best Music Poll

– Voted “Jazz Act of the Year” 2008, 2010 and 2016 Boston Music Awards


  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. ^ Henderson, Alex. "Grace Kelly". AllMusic.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Goodwin, Jeremy. "Grace Kelly Is Figuring It Out On The Fly". WBUR FM. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
  14. ^ "14-Year-Old Sax Prodigy Grace Kelly Set for Stardom". Sibelius. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  15. ^ "Grace Kelly - Dreaming: product details". Amazon. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  16. ^ "2016 Boston Music Awards".
  17. ^ "2016 NYC Jazz Fans Decision Award".
  18. ^ a b "Grace Kelly". The Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013.
  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.
  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. ^ a b "Billboard Smooth Jazz Chart for 3/11 to 4/8/2013". Billboard. April 13, 2013.
  27. ^ Black, Brent. "9 Mile Road. Woodward Ave. 2013". Bop-N-Jazz. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  28. ^ a b Peck, Claude (December 4, 2013). "Bestseller Michael Connelly Making Frank Morgan Jazz Biopic". Star Tribune.
  29. ^ a b Scherstul, Alan. "Sax Great Frank Morgan Soars and Scores in the Moving Musical Doc 'Sound of Redemption'". Village Voice. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  30. ^ Easterhouse, Jim. "'The Frank Morgan Story' sounds like a fine fit at L.A. Film Festival". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  31. ^ "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
  32. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  33. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Maine International Film Festival. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  34. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Virginia Film Festival. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  35. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Atlanta Film Festival. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  36. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Palm Springs International Film Festival. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  37. ^ "Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story". Vancouver International Film Festival. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  38. ^ "Grace Kelly @ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in New York, NY". Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  39. ^ "[e]xcited to join Jon Batiste and Stay Human on Late night w Ste..." December 7, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  40. ^ "Jon Batiste and Stay Human with special guests Grace Kelly and Brandon Niederauer at Webster Hall NY". YouTube. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  41. ^ The Thing About Secrets -- full cast on IMDb
  42. ^ Cummings-Grady, Mackenzie. "Brookline sax player Grace Kelly ready for close-up". Boston Globe Media Partners. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  43. ^ "Asians On Film Awards". Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  44. ^ 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.
  45. ^ "Join us". Fred Taylor scholarship fund. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  46. ^ James Sullivan (September 8, 2017). "An all-star outpouring for Fred Taylor". Boston Globe. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  47. ^ "Support the Fred Taylor Endowed Scholarship Fund". Berklee College. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  48. ^ Markos Papadatos (March 1, 2018). "The Manhattan Tr-ansfer discuss new jazz album 'The Junction' SPECIAL". Digital Journal. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  49. ^ The Bird Who Could Fly -- full cast on IMDb
  50. ^ Phillip Lutz (August 2016). "Grace Kelly: 'Jazz is a Mixable Genre'". Downbeat magazine. Retrieved June 26, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]