Grace Kelly is an absolute prodigy. At age 26 she is an award-winning composer, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumented artist who creates in just about any genre of music. Most notable as a jazz artist, Kelly’s soulful saxophone solos have garnered millions of views on a variety of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube via her own channel and their “Pop Up” video series.
Kelly was born to create music. She wrote her first song at 7 years old, recorded her first CD at 12, orchestrated and performed her original composition with the Boston Pops Orchestra at 14, and performed at President Obama’s Inauguration at 16. Recently, she was announced the Grand Prize winner in the 2018 John Lennon Songwriting Contest (Country Category) for her single, “Feels Like Home”. As live performances go, Kelly is relentless having toured in over 30 countries (800+ concerts) at notable venues and international jazz festivals. She has performed and/or recorded with iconic artists like 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.
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). 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. Kelly has been featured on CNN.com, Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women 2011, Forbes, Billboard, Huffington Post, and many appearances on NPR.
Visit her website at www.gracekellymusic.com
WiMN: How did it make you feel having the legendary vocal group Manhattan Transfer track your original composition, “Blues For Harry Bosch”? I have always loved Manhattan Transfer, and their recording of it is so good!
GK: It felt amazing, I LOVE their version and was delighted to join them on sax, too! It was a wonderful initial surprise to get Cheryl Bentyne’s email a while back telling me she loved my song, wrote lyrics to it (which I fell in love with) and wanted to record it with MT!
WiMN: You have accomplished more before the age of 30, than most people do in their entire life. You are such a creative genius. Can you describe for us how a song or composition comes to life for you, and where your inspiration comes from?
GK: Songs are often inspired from people in my life and moving experiences I’ve had. Sometimes I overhear a conversation in a coffee shop and write down a line that intrigues me which later inspires a song! I’m also inspired by colors and visual arts.
WiMN: You have performed over 800 shows in well over 30 countries throughout your music career. Has being a woman in the music industry ever present obstacles for you? Does geographical location play a part?
GK: I’ve had moments where I’ve been the only woman in the room. Starting in high school I would be in the room with 20+ high school boys, but I’ve been fortunate that most of my musical experiences have been positive ones with little gender obstacles. In the moments where there have been obstacles I’ve let my horn and music do the talking for me. I think it’s incredibly important for any artist (male or female) to sharpen their skills as much as possible and be/become the best they can be. There will always be obstacles and people will act with unfit behavior, but the most important thing is for one to focus on their craft and carry on. I also suggest walking away from any situation that makes one feel uncomfortable. Find your community of supportive mentors and friends – they are out there.
WiMN: You were just 16 years old when you performed at President Obama’s first inauguration. What kind of impact did that one performance have on you and your career?
GK: It was an amazing experience, one I will never forget. There was such magic and celebration in the air! A truly joyous honor… I was so honored to be a part of it.
WiMN: How many instruments can you play, and how many different genres of music are you involved in?
GK: I play all the saxophones, clarinet, flute, penny whistle, piano, ukulele … in total – 7 or 8 instruments. I love listening and playing everything from jazz, singer-songwriter, EDM, Rock n Roll!
WiMN: Your work schedule is a busy one, to say the least. How do you find balance, especially when having a social life? Or….do you have one?
GK: I do! I love hanging out with friends. Life is very busy but I always make time to hang out with friends, family and date nights with my boyfriend! That is treasured time and helps keep me emotionally healthy.
WiMN: What are some of your favorite ways to regroup and ground yourself?
GK: I enjoy meditation, dance and reading!
WiMN: Where does Grace Kelly see herself in 5 years?
GK: Making lots of more music, touring the world, acting, and lots more collaborations with artists I admire! I would love to have my own experiential festival and create my own TV show in the future!
WiMN: Lastly, what advice do you have for women who wish to pursue a career in the music industry?
GK: Only get into this business if you can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s not easy but if you’re committed with passion, an incredible work ethic and commitment to your craft you will get somewhere. Keep on your own path without worrying about the naysayers and obstacles. Do your thing.
Grace Kelly was featured in the 2017 Emmy-winning Yamaha production “The Right Note”.