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

Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More