This week St. Louis has the joy of hosting the wonderfully talented jazz musician and vocalist Grace Kelly here at Jazz at the Bistro. Kelly has already began her stay in St. Louis with a performance and workshop with students at Jefferson College, as well as beginning her week long residence at the bistro. We had the great joy of sitting down with the young artist before her performance to chat about her career and experiences in the industry.
If you aren’t familiar with Grace Kelly, she is one of the standout names in the world of contemporary jazz. Looking at her list of achievements, which includes over 300 feature performances, you would never guess this artist is only 25. Especially in the last two years, her albums and pop up video series have gotten national attention and acclaim. Kelly has not only performed at the inauguration of President Obama, but has played Newport Jazz Festival, and even as a part of the house band for the Tonight Show with Stephen Colbert.
For Kelly things started early, as she released her first album Dreaming at age 12. In the years after her first release, she began to aggressively develop her talent. By 18 she was beginning to understand a little bit more about her music, and the importance of an artistic big picture. Reflecting on that time she says to new artists, “Focus on a message and a feeling that is unique to you. The world is looking for new fresh perspectives. Do something no one else does and celebrate your differences.”
As a young female musician and composer, she didn’t let the challenges of ignorant minds bring her down. With Jazz being a primarily male dominated genre, she definitely has faced her fair share of doubts and discrimination. For Kelly her love for the music grounded her, “Focus on your journey. There are plenty of amazing musicians and settings. You shouldn’t be weighed down by something that is supposed to be a beautiful human interaction.”
There is no questioning that Grace Kelly is out there doing her thing. While her many years of professionalism in the industry shine through, there is the radiant uniqueness to her personality. This of course follows through to her music. While Jazz is often seen as too cerebral or stuffy, Grace has found a freedom in her music that bridges the worlds of pop music and more classical jazz. Because of this her music is completely accessible, making a a place for everyone from the seasoned jazz head to people who have never had the chance to fall in love with the genre. “What I love about music today is there aren’t the same boxes and categories. It’s all about singles and playlists. It’s a creative time because of that. We’ve got these genres like acoustic EDM. I love that the lines are all blurred. Good music is good music,” says Kelly.
With her performances at festivals and viral videos on Facebook, she has gotten to pull in a new crowd of people, “We play stages with thousands of people and I love capturing people like that. People will say they just were walking by and ended up staying for the whole set. Saying ‘I didn’t think I like Jazz but whatever that was is amazing.” Kelly believes music is all about perception and finding what you love about a genre. There is no right and wrong for how to listen to Jazz.
If you have the chance this week make sure to get down to Jazz at the Bistro to catch one of her sets. Kelly’s luscious vocals and skills on the saxophone make for a wonderful performance. “We play a very dynamic upbeat show, but there are parts of it that are like an emotional roller coaster. We might go from playing an incredibly high wailing song to a ballad. I love taking people on that journey,” tells Grace. Recently a woman had emailed her and told her how her performance left her in a puddle of tears, but by the end she was dancing along. It’s that emotional connection Kelly nurtures that truly sets her apart as an artist.
We are extremely excited to check out her performance this evening, and Grace Kelly will be performing a variety of set times this week at the bistro. There are still three more nights for you to catch her play. You can purchase tickets from Jazz St. Louis for any of the following performances:
Thursday 10/5 @ 7:30 PM
Friday 10/6 @ 7:30 PM + 9:30 PM
Saturday 10/7 @ 7:30 PM + 9:30 PM