2018 Grand Prize Winner John Lennon Songwriting Contest
12 acclaimed albums and a resume that includes a solo concert in Carnegie Hall and featured artist with Jon Batiste’s house band for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”
Saturday, March 14th, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.
An unequivocal musical prodigy, singer-saxophonist-songwriter Grace Kelly has rocked the jazz world with sold-out concerts, 12 acclaimed albums and a resume that includes performing at Carnegie Hall and as part of the house band for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” – all before reaching her mid-twenties. With Kelly releasing two new video albums in 2018, the versatile young performer now returns to The Smith Center with an all-new show that will appeal to jazz enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
Take what you think about jazz, what you know about some funk, and what you’ve heard about singer-songwriters, then mix it with some R&B and an electro dance beat. Together, this melds into Kelly’s energizing and uplifting show. Performing her fresh, playful musical stylings, Grace’s infectious positivity and charismatic stage presence bring a smile to everyone.
Touted for her scorching saxophone stylings and purring vocals, Kelly has performed and recorded with renowned artists including Lin Manuel-Miranda, Dave Brubeck, Huey Lewis, Harry Connick Jr., Gloria Estefan and Wynton Marsalis. She performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, and has performed over 800 concerts in over 30 countries, including at leading venues like the Hollywood Bowl and the Kennedy Center.
She has also appeared as a featured performer in films and television, including acclaimed documentary “Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story” and Amazon’s Emmy-nominated original series “Bosch.” Kelly has won multiple ASCAP Composer Awards, Boston Music Awards, International Songwriting Awards, and is the Grand Prize Winner of the 2018 John Lennon Songwriting Contest.
Offering a contagious exuberance on stage, Kelly will captivate audiences as she performs her infectious originals from her latest albums.
“Grace Kelly has an electric charisma onstage that instantly ignites the room,” says Stay Human bandleader Jon Batiste. Featured in the 2017 Emmy-winning Yamaha production "The Right Note", singer, saxophonist, and songwriter/composer Grace Kelly plays with the heart and passion of an old soul yet with the genre-bending zest and energy of a 26-year-old. The 2018 John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize winner (country genre) has appeared regularly in the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert under Jon Batiste and was highlighted on screen as a jazz soloist in the Emmy-nominated Amazon series BOSCH (S2E2). Quotes the NY Times (July 2018) .”…clearly in possession of virtuoso talents among a range of styles.”
Featured by Vanity Fair as a millennial shaking up the jazz world, Kelly is picking up steam by rewriting the rules of the performance experience. Her recent project, GO TiME: Brooklyn, brought a fully live, choreographed, electrifying show to the Systems 2 recording studio in New York City in front of a spellbound in-person audience and to thousands more globally over a Facebook Live broadcast. Fans have responded in droves, with over 100,000 views on the video and thousands of positive comments and shares. Via Facebook, Instagram, and her Youtube channel, the snackable “PopUp” video series combining soulful sax solos with unexpected and exotic locales has millions of views, further establishing her brand as an artistic veteran with a digital native’s flair for innovation.
As a songwriter, Kelly has won multiple ASCAP Composer Awards, Boston Music Awards, and International Songwriting Awards, including placing second in the 2017 International Songwriting Competition (Adult Contemporary category). Her original composition "Blues for Harry Bosch" was recorded by the legendary vocal group Manhattan Transfer on their album "The Junction." As a saxophonist, she was the winner of the 64th Annual 2016 Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll in the category “Rising Star - Alto Saxophone,” voted #4 Alto saxophonist in 2016 Downbeat Magazine Readers Poll, named “Jazz Artist of the Year” in the 2016 Boston Music Awards, and “Alto Saxophonist of the Year” by NYC Jazz Fans Decision 2016. She has been featured on CNN.com, Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women 2011, Forbes, Billboard, Huffington Post, and many appearances on NPR.
Kelly wrote her first song at 7 years old, recorded her first CD at 12, orchestrated and performed an original composition with the Boston Pops Orchestra at 14, and performed at President Obama’s inauguration at 16. As a bandleader, Grace has performed in over 800 concerts in over 30 countries at notable venues as the Hollywood Bowl, Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall, and international jazz festivals such as Montreal, Newport, and Montreux. Grace has performed and/or recorded with Questlove, Lin Manuel Miranda, Esperanza Spalding, Harry Connick Jr, Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, Emma Stone, Huey Lewis and Gloria Estefan, to name a few.