Saxophone Prodigy Grace Kelly to Perform at the Kennedy Center on May 20th to Celebrate the 15th Annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival


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18-Year Saxophone Prodigy Grace Kelly
to Perform at the Kennedy Center on May 20th
to Celebrate the 15th Annual Mary Lou Williams
Women in Jazz Festival

Performance to Feature All-Star Quintet of the
World's Top Female Jazz Artists

DL Media is proud to announce that saxophonist Grace Kelly will perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on Thursday, May 20th to celebrate the 15th Annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. This event also marks the 100th anniversary of Williams' birth with three evenings of star-studded performances featuring the world's top female jazz artists.

The opening night concert will feature an extended performance by an all-star quintet of Grace Kelly (saxophone), Dee Dee Bridgewater (vocal), Geri Allen (piano), Esperanza Spalding(bass), and Terri Lyne Carrington (drums); plus a set by the winner of the 2009 Women in Jazz Competition, pianist Carmen Staaf.

In August 2009, Kelly was named the youngest “Alto Saxophonist Rising Star" ever in the 57th Annual Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll. Kelly, who performed at the 2008 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, was recently voted “Best Jazz Act in Boston" in The Boston Phoenix's 2009 Best Music Poll, a title that she now holds for the second consecutive year. Additionally, she was awarded her third ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award this year (her third in past four years).

Kelly's career is growing at an ever excelling pace. Trumpeter and Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis was so impressed with Kelly's three-night stand as guest of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in November 2008 that he invited her to join the ensemble at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater in Washington, D.C. for an Martin Luther King, Jr. Day/Inauguration Eve concert on January 19th, 2009. Harry Connick, Jr.heard Kelly in a master class on a December afternoon and brought her on stage to sit in with his band that night. This capped an already exceptional end of 2008 in which Kelly's appearance on NPR's Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland was syndicated nationally.

Kelly, who enjoyed critically acclaimed success on her previous GRACEFULEE album, has dominated the DownBeat Student Awards over the past four years. From 2006 to 2009, the saxophonist has garnered 12 student awards, including her latest three for “Jazz Soloist," “Outstanding Jazz Vocalist," and “Pop-Rock Blues Soloist."

“I'm just trying to listen to as much music as possible, which makes it hard for me to put together a CD about just one thing," Kelly says in explaining her inspiration for her latest recording, Mood Changes, which was released on PAZZ Productions in November 2008. “A year before the session, I wrote 'Tender Madness,' which is slow and sad, and around the same time, when I was in a good mood, I wrote 'Happy Theme Song.' At that point, I realized that a concept for my next album was taking shape. Two more originals, '101' and 'But Life Goes On,' extended the idea, as did the six standards."

Kelly is particularly excited about the strides that Mood Changes reveals in her bandleading skills. “There's nothing like playing my own music with my own band," she acknowledges. “Everyone is so comfortable, yet I feel as if I'm getting pushed in every performance. At the same time, I realize more of what I want over the years, and more direction goes into the music. Every time we play is a complete adventure."

Without hesitation, Grace Kelly will tell you that her goal is “to stay in jazz but also do different things, bigger arrangements, like Stevie Wonder and George Benson." Her ambition has yet to outstrip her talent, and Mood Changes suggests that such a turn of events is unlikely in the foreseeable future.

Watch a highlight reel of Grace Kelly on YouTube

“Grace Kelly plays with intelligence, wit and feeling.
She has a great amount of natural ability and the ability to adapt
that is the hallmark of a first-class jazz musician." -
Wynton Marsalis

Grace Kelly at the Kennedy Center
Thursday, May 20th, 7 PM

Grace Kelly, saxophone
Dee Dee Bridgewater, vocal
Geri Allen, piano
Esperanza Spalding, bass
Terri Lyne Carrington, drums

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20566
Phone: (800) 444-1324 or (202) 467-4600

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This story appears courtesy of DL Media.
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