Photos by: Taso Papadakis Photography
For most people, the saxophone is a melodic, woodwind instrument with a lot of history attached to it. But for prodigy musician, Grace Kelly, it’s so much more.
“The saxophone, for me, has always resonated with the human voice,” says Kelly.
At age six, Kelly was singing and playing classical piano. By fourth grade, she made her way over to the clarinet only to find that it didn’t quite match the sound she had in mind. Later on, that school year, she found the alto saxophone.
“It was love at first note,” she says with a giggle.
By 2007, Kelly had performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra and even had the opportunity to share her composition of “Every Road I Walked” with many jazz fans from the Greater Boston Area.
Over the course of her career, Kelly has released ten albums. She started recording at the recommendation of her music teacher.
“It’s been a real learning process,” says Kelly. “The first half a dozen albums was a documentation of where I was [musically and in life].”
Her newest album, Trying to Figure it Out shows Kelly getting into her own artistry. Her past albums consisted of different pieces that she’d composed over time. However, Trying to Figure it Out shows a different side of Kelly—her true self, which is equal parts mature and fun.
“[I was] crafting a musical statement that was a lot more me,” says Kelly.
Her career took an exciting and unexpected turn in December of 2015 when bandleader Jon Batiste invited her to perform with his band Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. A week-long gig turned into a six-month gig that took Kelly on an amazing journey. She became part of the CBS family pretty quickly as she performed with the close-knit house band every night. Kelly even found herself playing five different instruments in the process.
Soon after, Kelly played with the band on the variety show Maya & Marty starring Maya Rudolph and Martin Short.
“2016 was the year of television for me,” says Kelly.
Looking back on those experiences and her career thus far, Kelly wishes that she would have known to train on more instruments to better prepare for the musical journey that presented itself before her. However, she has risen to the occasion and learned a lot about herself and her music in the process.
The more Kelly performed, the more she realized that the stage was somewhat of a sacred place for her. As soon as she steps on, all of her worries and nerves go away—it’s very peaceful for her. Once on stage, the music she performs is more than jazz. Kelly describes it as “Jazz and Beyond” because her foundation of jazz is still there, but there are elements of pop and blues as well.
For her music, one of Kelly’s goals is to show a more playful side of the jazz genre.
“We’re trained to be serious musicians,” says Kelly. “Sometimes jazz gets a bad rep for being too cerebral and I’m trying to show the fun side. Music is for everybody and for everybody to enjoy.”
To learn more about Grace Kelly, click here.