An unequivocal musical prodigy, singer-saxophonist-songwriter-composer and bandleader Grace Kelly has rocked the jazz world with sold-out concerts, 14 acclaimed albums and a resume that includes performing at the Hollywood Bowl as well as being part of the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – all before reaching her mid-twenties. As of October 2022, she has become the youngest member of the Board of Trustees of Berklee College of Music.
Kelly’s early career featured performances at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration at age 16 and at age 14 as a soloist with the Boston Pops playing an original composition arranged for the legendary orchestra; she has since then played over 1000 shows as bandleader in 35 countries at venues like the Kennedy Center and Moscow Symphony Hall and for the Montreal, Newport, and Montreux international jazz festivals.
Touted for her scorching saxophone stylings and purring vocals, Kelly has performed and recorded with renowned artists including Lin Manuel- Miranda, Dave Brubeck, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Huey Lewis, Harry Connick Jr., Gloria Estefan, Questlove, and Wynton Marsalis.
Kelly was named the winner of Song of the Year for her single “Feels Like Home” in the 2018 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, and has been named nine times consecutively in the Annual Downbeat Magazines Critics Poll “Rising Star Alto Saxophone” from the age of 17 in 2009 and winning the poll in 2017 (Youngest ever named to Downbeat critics poll in 2009.). She has also won multiple ASCAP Composer Awards, Boston Music Awards, and International Songwriting Awards. She has also appeared as a featured performer in films and television, including acclaimed documentary Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story, Amazon’s Emmy-nominated original series Bosch, and featured in the 2017 Emmy-winning Yamaha production The Right Note.
Featured by Vanity Fair as a millennial shaking up the jazz world, Kelly’s state-of-the-art brand of electro jazz-pop and inventive digital content are pushing her to the forefront of the fusion scene, alongside names like Snarky Puppy, Jacob Collier, Cory Henry, Robert Glasper, Jon Batiste, and Too Many Zooz.
Kelly’s latest album All That I Need was inspired by the different emotions that embody the courageous spirit. Kelly describes, “I found myself on a journey thinking about what the courageous spirit feels and looks like to me. I wanted to write an album that was fueled by the feeling of courage. Coming out of the pandemic, as an artist, I found myself battling the fear-based thought of: am I ever going to be able to do this thing that I love again for people? But I choose to be an optimist. To move forward with some type of courageous spirit. I always want to step into places that might feel scary or challenging in order to create an opportunity for both personal and artistic growth. That was the initial idea behind All That I Need.
The inspiration behind the album came in different forms – Kelly found inspiration in the written words of the great poet and activist Maya Angelou. Her bold beautiful words in her poem And Still I Rise inspired Kelly to write the track, “We Will Rise.” It is a song dedicated to women all around the globe, a song about pushing forward during challenging times and standing up together to advocate and fight for women’s rights.
Kelly states, “As a songwriter, my contribution to the world includes creating music that can help spark hope and be the sonic fuel to others’ words and actions. I think back to a few years ago, when April and I wrote a song for She’s The First, a non-profit I adore. They partner with grassroots organizations around the world, supporting girls’ access to education. Recently, they’ve been at the forefront of providing the public with resources since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Right now, I feel that we need to spotlight and hear the voices of great female leaders, such as those at She’s The First, more than ever. For April and me, We Will Rise comes from that same spirit — it’s about protecting our rights around our bodies and independence. I hope this song wakes up the female warrior inside and gives the inspiration to fight for our rights as women.”
Kelly’s upcoming project, At The Movies: Grace Kelly with Strings, with her fifteen piece large ensemble was inspired by Charlie Parker with Strings, one of Kelly’s all time favorite albums as well as her love of classic and contemporary movies. She reimagines her favorite movie music (Disney Medley, Back To The Future, High Society, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mission Impossible, etc.) as well as songs by legendary film composers (John Williams, Ennio Morricone) and contemporary artist like Billie Eilish (“No Time To Die” from the latest James Bond film) with fresh arrangements and fully merges it into her signature sound. The studio album will be released early spring 2024.
Aside from thrilling audiences in concert, Kelly’s stardom reaches the acclaim of her audiences online. The millennial artist has developed a new paradigm to exhibit her remarkable talent and unparalleled showmanship with the masses, curating an immersive user experience for her fans across multiple social media platforms. Kelly’s dedication to posting engaging content and offering insight into her daily life has deepened her brand, bringing thousands upon thousands of eager fans into her world and gaining millions of views online, allowing the artist to bridge the gap between virtuosic musician and cultural phenomenon.
Kelly is a masterful clinician specializing in jazz improvisation and stage performance. She has taught thousands of students to become more confident performers and players both online and in-person. She is the co-founder of Saxy School, an innovative online saxophone school. She has held a guest teaching residency at The Berklee College of Music and spearheaded the establishment of the Fred Taylor Endowed Scholarship Fund by organizing, emceeing, and performing in the All-Star Benefit Concert in 2017 which raised over $70,000 for the fund.