Grace Kelly Joins Fellow Saxophonists for a Conversation on Charlie Parker and Launches Bid to Have Her Song Become Campaign Anthem
Grace Kelly Joins Fellow Saxophonists Charles McPherson, Joe Lovano, and Antonio Hart in Celebrating Bird, a Virtual Conversation and Performance for 92Y
Saturday, August 29, 2:00 pm
Kelly Announces Plans to Offer Her Song, She's the First,
as Campaign Anthem for Vice Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris
First to dare, leave her mark; First to rise, start a spark
Fire is burning bright; She can lead us through the night …
NEW YORK, NY – Jazz in the time of COVID-19 is challenging for the art form. With clubs, concert halls and festivals dark, musicians are struggling to adapt to the new reality. One musician – the Massachusetts-born, 28-year-old saxophonist, composer, vocalist, bandleader and educator Grace Kelly – is poised to bravely blaze a trail through these new performance/multimedia opportunities. Kelly's self-described "electro jazz-pop" music, along with her lithe dance moves and her silken and soulful saxophone sound, continue to attract new fans worldwide, albeit virtually for the time being.
Kelly next takes the virtual stage at New York City's 92Y on Saturday, August 29, at 2:00 pm (EDT). She joins saxophonists Charles McPherson, Joe Lovano, Antonio Hart, and pianist Barry Harris, with moderator Gary Giddins, for a conversation and performance titled Celebrating Bird. The event is part of 92Y's Charlie Parker: Now's the Time, Celebrating Bird at 100. https://www.92y.org/event/celebrating-bird
On August 18, Kelly performed on and hosted the live-streamed concert "She's the First, " with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Wilkins. The concert commemorated the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, and featured music by all-female composers. Kelly debuted the orchestral version of her composition, She's the First, which won the International Song Competition Award and is the theme song for a non-profit foundation dedicated to educating young women, also named She's the First.
"The song was inspired by acts of courageousness, resilience, and the power of women coming together right now and shaking up the world, " said Grace.
The saxophonist and singer feels so strongly about the tune's message that she has even bigger desires to share her lyrics.
"The timing of Kamala Harris as our very first woman of color to accept a major party nomination for Vice President has given me hope and excitement for the possibility of our future. I'm quite inspired by this amazing woman and her leadership, along with our shared story of being a daughter of an immigrant, " expressed Kelly. "I would love to get my song, 'She's the First, ' in front of Ms. Harris' team as I feel it is fitting for her and would bring a wave of sonic energy to her mission and to her supporters."
Crossing musical boundaries to new and diverse audiences has been Kelly's modus operandi ever since she released her first album at the age of 12, Dreaming, in 2005. Inspired to play jazz by the great tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, Kelly, a graduate of the Berklee School of Music, created an improvisation-based style that was accessible to R&B, pop and world music genres. She's performed and recorded with a wide variety of artists including Snarky Puppy, Robert Glasper, Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr. and Esperanza Spalding. Her other recordings as a leader include her 2016 release, Trying to Figure it Out, which was voted second place in DownBeat's 2016 Readers' Poll, and three video CD's, GO TiME: Brooklyn, GO TiME: Brooklyn 2, and GO TiME: Live in LA, where she used technology to, "bring my whole dancing, furry-pink-boa-wearing self to the project."
With 13 albums to her credit, 900 concerts in 35 countries and a consistent presence in major jazz polls as well as features in fashion magazines and on television, Kelly's well-rounded career also includes appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and in 2009, she performed for President Barack Obama's inauguration. She was a guest soloist with The Boston Pops, at the age of 14, and in 2018, she won Song of the Year for her composition, Feels Like Home, in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest.
With all of her vivid and varied gifts, Grace Kelly is the prototype for the millennial musician, with impressive social media presence attracting a younger audience for jazz. More importantly, she is a dynamic role for Korean-Americans who will follow in her footsteps. "I love playing saxophone and being loud and bold and colorful and different and out-of-the-box, " Kelly said on the website, Beauty Within. "I hope to be even more of a spokesperson for Korean- Americans and Asian-American girls. I think it's something we need more of."
With her jam-packed schedule that includes teaching, pop-up concerts, on-line music clinics with her friend Leo P (together known as Weare2Saxy), her global mission for She's the First and performances like this Saturday's 92Y event, there's no doubt that Grace Kelly has come a long way since that 12-year-old girl announced her dreams to world.
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