Written by from NPR
Grace Kelly was born May 15, 1992, in Wellesley, Mass. She grew up in nearby Brookline in a family that encouraged a great deal of music listening. As a child, Kelly was especially taken with the music of Broadway, and had dreams of singing in musical theater.
She kicked off her music career on piano, beginning lessons at age 6. Though she started out studying classical music, her proclivity for improvisation and composition led her parents and teachers to have her study jazz. In the fourth grade, Kelly began taking clarinet lessons at school. Already a huge fan of Stan Getz, Kelly took up the sax the following year. She played her first gig just six weeks later.
By the end of middle school, Kelly was beginning to make a name for herself as a jazz player. She dominated the Downbeat Annual Student Music Award competition, winning top honors for Best Sax Soloist, Best Vocalist, Best Original Composition and Outstanding Performance. She also won prizes for Outstanding Vocalist and Outstanding Woodwinds in the junior high school division at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.
Kelly currently studies alto sax with Lee Konitz, Jerry Bergonzi and Allan Chase. In addition to playing soprano, tenor and alto sax, she also studies flute, piano, drums, composition and arranging. At just 16, Kelly has already played at some of the most famous venues in the world, including Birdland, Scullers, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. She’s performed with such jazz masters as Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Hank Jones, Dianne Reeves and Phil Woods, who, upon playing with Kelly for the first time, bestowed upon her his trademark leather cap.
In 2008, Grace Kelly recorded her fourth album, Gracefullee, with teacher and mentor Lee Konitz. Guitarist Russell Malone, bassist Rufus Reed and drummer Matt Wilson also performed on the session.
Originally recorded April 17, 2008.