News / USA

Teen Musical Prodigy Earning Acclaim in Jazz World

Jazz saxophone player Grace Kelly (center) on stage
Jazz saxophone player Grace Kelly (center) on stage

Multimedia

Ernest Leong

She shares a name with a former Hollywood star and Princess of Monaco, but her talent is all her own. This Grace Kelly is a jazz saxophonist who has won multiple awards, toured around the world, and played with famous jazz musicians.  And to top it all off, she's only 18.  

She has played to packed houses of jazz fans, sometimes even getting to jam with her childhood heroes.  For Grace Kelly, the life of a jazz musician can be fun and fulfilling.  

But it also takes work.  Long before she takes the stage, she prepares through a daily ritual of listening to music on her laptop and taking notes.

Music has been a part of this prodigy's life since early childhood.

"I think it just started by singing," said Kelly.  "Because that was so natural to me.  Ever since I was little, if I could talk, I would sing."  

Grace began her musical career studying classical piano, but while doing her daily piano exercises, she and her family discovered her true calling.

"I would make up my own songs rather than practice the pieces, so my parents would walk in and go, 'that doesn't sound like the piece.'  And I realized early on, maybe they shouldn't push me in this classical realm, because I wanted to make up my own songs," Kelly recalled.

The result was a career in jazz and worldwide acclaim for her performances on the saxophone.

Grace grew up in the northeastern state of Massachusetts.  She was born Grace Chung, but took her stepfather's name, Kelly, when he adopted her.

There was always music playing in the Kelly house, including jazz.  It was the perfect setting to nurture the talents of a developing saxophonist.  

Grace now follows a grueling schedule, which revolves around practice, recording and touring, but she also takes time out to act like a normal teenager.

"I can go to school and hang out with my buddies, and it's great," she said.  "At the same time, I get to tour and do this whole thing so I feel very blessed to get to do both."

Grace is not the only hard worker in the family.  Her stepfather Robert performs many roles behind the scenes to help with her career.

"I'm her agent, her manager, her roadie, her dad, her confidant, her schlepper - anything that needs to be done," he said.

As a saxophonist, singer, composer and arranger, Grace has released five CD's to date, including one with her teacher, Lee Konitz.

She has performed around the world, in diverse venues, before celebrities and politicians. But of all the places she's been, her favorite place remains the stage.

"Doesn't really matter where," she said.  "I feel most comfortable up there [onstage], and it's funny how, a minute before [I] go on, I can feel nervous.  But as soon as I'm on, I feel like it's home."

And it was onstage that one of her most memorable moments took place.  While she was performing with jazz great Phil Woods at a 2006 concert, Woods took off his hat - an iconic symbol to jazz fans - and placed it on her head.

"It was just really, really flattering, because Phil Woods is one of my idols," Kelly recalled.

It was literally a "crowning moment" and Grace Kelly's fans hope there will be many more to come.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid