Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
She’s been called a fearless young improviser, a phenom and the future of jazz. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Hatfield Hall will welcome jazz saxophone sensation Grace Kelly and the Grace Kelly Quintet at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Saxophonist, singer, composer and arranger, Kelly has toured the world, won the praise of jazz greats and played for a presidential inauguration celebration. She’s been voted Best Jazz Act in Boston four consecutive years, played 600 concerts as a leader, and performed at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. And she’s only 21.
Racking up milestones other musicians can only dream of, Kelly has performed and recorded with Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Phil Woods, Harry Connick, Jr., Jamie Cullum, Questlove, Gloria Estefan, Frank Morgan, Esperanza Spalding, Toots Thielemans, Hank Jones, Huey Lewis and Terri Lynn Carrington, among others.
Born Grace Chung, the Korean-American became Grace Kelly when she was legally adopted by stepfather, Bob Kelly. She began with piano lessons at age 6, and still does much of her composing at the piano. Kelly began to study the clarinet at her elementary school in the fourth grade, followed by private lessons. Encouraged by teacher Ken Berman, she recorded her first CD, “Dreaming,” at age 12.
She recalls taking the stage at the CD release party, “and as soon as I walked on stage, I realized that performing was my favorite thing to do.”
After releasing eight full-length albums, Kelly released her first single “Sweet Sweet Baby,” which climbed to No. 10 on Billboard Magazine’s Smooth Jazz Song chart.
She says her inspiration comes from a wide variety of influences, from rock to jazz standards.
“I listen to a wide range of music, from Miles Davis to John Mayer,” Kelly said. “Lately I’ve been listening to more contemporary music and songwriters and at the same time I’ve been more inspired to write songs.”
She’ll be joined onstage by guitarist Pete McCann, bassist Evan Gregor, percussionist Ross Pederson and pianist David Cook.
Tickets are $18-22 for adults and $10 for students and may be purchased the Hatfield Hall ticket desk, by calling 812-877-8544 or at hatfieldhall.com.