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When it comes to saxophonist /vocalist/composer/lyricist/arranger Grace Kelly, people seem to be divided into two groups: those who marvel at her proficiency, creativity and ever-accelerating growth, and those who have yet to encounter the 19-year-old wunderkind. The ranks of the former category are growing by the day. 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 that he invited her to join the ensemble at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater in Washington, D.C. 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. Since then, Kelly has been voted “Best Jazz Act” in Boston three consecutive years in the FNX/Phoenix Best Music Poll, received the ASCAP Foundation’s Young Jazz Composers Award in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 and won “Jazz Artist of the Year” at the Boston Music Awards in both 2008 and 2010. The 2009, and 2010, Downbeat Critics Poll added to her list naming her one of the "Alto Saxophone Rising Stars”, the youngest ever to be named so.
Kelly has continued to garner accolades from artists she revered, performing and recording with the likes of Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Phil Woods, Harry Connick Jr., Jamie Cullum, Frank Morgan, Esperanza Spalding, Toots Thielemans, Hank Jones, Jerry Bergonzi, Adam Rogers, Chris Potter, Rufus Reid, Kenny Barron, Dianne Reeves, Billy Hart, Ann Hampton Callaway, Cedar Walton, James Cotton and Terri Lynn Carrington among others. "I gave her my hat, that’s how good she sounded,” Woods enthused. "She’s the first alto player to get one.”
Since age 12 Grace has performed over 500 concerts as a leader all around the world at prominent venues such as the Montreal Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Apollo Theater, Birdland, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Juan Les Pins Jazz Festival, Dizzy’s Club Cocoa Cola, Tanglewood Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival, Ronnie Scott’s (London), Porgy & Bess (Vienna), Scullers Jazz Club, Regatta Bar, B.B. King’s Blues Club (New York City), Jazz Bakery (LA), Dakota Jazz Club, and in venues as far away as Europe and Asia. She has also released seven full-length albums and will graduate from Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music in December 2011. As Ann Hampton Callaway predicts, “There is no telling how far this child prodigy will go with the limitless possibilities of her voluminous talents.”