Lisa Kelly

National Jazz Vocal Artist/Clinician, Mentor, Composer, Band Leader, & Guest Artist (solo, small group, big band)

About Me

Lisa Kelly’s singing reflects the influences of the many legendary jazz vocalists; from Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee and Carmen McCrae, to favorite contemporaries Diana Krall and Dianne Reeves, but with a seasoned signature sound and style all her own. She has earned many ardent listeners, drawn to her rich vocal timbre, her impeccable sensitivity of phrasing, and her inviting, sophisticated stage presence. With an intimate delivery of lyric, Lisa conveys the depth of the meaning in the words she sings, with her horn-like approach to improvisation and a rock solid ‘in the pocket’ swing feel, she artfully creates musical lines & heartfelt delivery of the lyric. From jazz clubs to major festivals, small groups to big bands, the Classic American Songbook to Modern Jazz, Lisa Kelly has established herself among the continued legacy of true jazz vocal song stylists.

With a B.M. Degree in Jazz Studies from the University of North Florida, Lisa studied jazz with legendary jazz artist/educators, saxophonist, Bunky Green and guitarist Jack Petersen. The vocalist with the top UNF JE 1 big band, she was featured on 4 highly recognized UNF CD recordings, winner of an unprecedented five “DownBeat Magazine Student Awards” (4 for best vocal, 1 for best original composition), and was the 2000 vocal winning member of the esteemed “IAJE Sisters In Jazz Combo,” performing at the IAJE Convention in New Orleans, the Mary Lou William's Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center, and the “Festival Vien” and Vienna State Opera House in Austria. Lisa has been featured with many ensembles, including the famed Larry Elgart Orchestra, the St. Johns River City Band, and the Chris Riddle Orchestra, and has performed with such jazz luminaries as Bunky Green, Jack Petersen, Bill Prince, Bill Allred, Arturo Sandoval, Ed Calle, Don Menza, Slide Hampton, Dave Brubeck, Eddie Metz, Lynne Arriale, Danny Gottlieb, John Lee, Yotam Silberstein, Terry Myers, Bob Draga and many others. She has performed for numerous national and international festivals, clubs and jazz societies as a guest solo artist and as a co-leader of several small groups and big bands with her husband, renowned trumpeter, JB Scott.

Lisa is a frequent guest artist/clinician and adjudicator for both vocal and instrumental competitions and festivals, teaches voice, music theory and combo for jazz camps, and has taught formally at the middle school, high school and collegiate levels. Well known for her mentoring, Lisa has presented vocal jazz clinics for various schools and in-service teacher’s conferences, for Jazz Educators Network (JEN) National Conferences, for Florida Jazz Educators (FJE), and since 2007, for the Florida Music Educators Association (FMEA) Convention in Tampa, Florida, where her Lisa Kelly Quartet received a standing ovation for their performance at the prestigious 2012 FMEA Opening Session. Since 2000, she has been the featured vocalist with the FMEA/FBA Band Directors Reading Band Session, and in 2012, served as the mentor for the first student vocalist to ever perform with the FMEA All-State High School Jazz Ensemble. In 2013, Lisa initiated the first state-wide high school “High School Jazz Vocal Soloist Competition,” selecting 3 vocalists to mentor at the annual FMEA music conference in Tampa, Florida, then presenting them in a conference clinic, each performing a prepared piece with a professional rhythm section. One of the students selected also sang with the 2013 All-State Jazz Band, directed by Dr. Bill Prince. Since her 1997 CD, “By Request,” debuted at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Lisa has been featured on numerous radio and TV commercials and jingles, on many CD recordings, and has co-produced five successful CD's with JB Scott. In 2010, Lisa Kelly was among 320 international jazz artists profiled in the book, “The New Face of Jazz,” and in May 2013, was been the first vocalist and UNF alumni to be inducted into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.

My Jazz Story

Published on: 2016-12-19

I love being an extension of jazz history, our true American musical art form. I love the musical challenge of its discipline and the freedom found in its accomplished self-expression. I love the intimate musical conversation with fellow musical artists on the bandstand and with the listening audience. It is an art form rooted in tradition yet constantly evolving in new ideas. I was first exposed to jazz as a child by my grandparents. The best show I ever attended was Freddie Hubbard at the 200 North Sea Jazz Fest. The first jazz record I bought was by Ron Carter. My advice to new listeners is to become an educated jazz listener, read its history, take college courses (especially in history and in harmony), watch videos, listen to recordings & support live jazz performances, jazz societies, festivals. I've spent time with many jazz notables: Betty Carter, Joe Williams, Joe Henderson, John Hendricks, Diana Krall, Jimmy Cobb, Kurt Elling, Shirley Horn, Diane Schuur, Dave Holland, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Horace Silver, Marian McPartland, Herbie Hancock, Wynton, Ellis and Jason Marsalis, Jon Faddis, John Clayton, Billy Taylor, Bill Watrous, Cassandra Wilson, Claudio Roditti, George Benson, and many others. I've sung with Arturo Sandoval, Bunky Green, Dave Brubeck, Maceo Parker, Yotam Silberstein, Jack Peterson, Larry Elgart, John Lee, Chris Riddle, Mulgrew Miller, Slide Hampton, Cyrus Chestnut, Ed Calle, Michael Abene, Carmen Bradford, the Jensen Sisters, Jane Monheit, Lynne Arriale, Danny Gottlieb, Dave Steinmeyer, Bill and John Allred, Dianne Reeves, and many others.

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