Born: May 7 Primary Instrument: Vocal
The Elegant Ella Gahnt, Jazz vocalist and arranger, has been performing professionally since the age of 18 and is finally living her dream by performing the songs she loves. Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, she has studied piano, voice, guitar, saxophone, and music theory at Granoff and Settlement Music schools, and PCPA - now University of The Arts, and continues private instruction with her husband Leon Mitchell - composer, arranger, vocal coach, and musical director of The Philadelphia Legends of Jazz Orchestra.
Ella has worked as vocalist and music copyist on recordings with many popular artists like Grover Washington, Jr., The Stylistics, and Pieces of a Dream. Ella has performed as jazz vocalist throughout the East Coast with jazz groups led by Sam Reed, Roger Prieto, Tony Williams, Sam Dockery, Butch Ballard, Gerald Smith, and her own E.G. Trio/Quartet. Ella has performed at the PECO Energy & Afro-American Museum’s Jazz 'til Sunrise Festival, and a concert entitled Just Us along with vocalist Pearl Williams at the Painted Bride in Philadelphia, PA. Ella and her trio performed a memorable concert in the Perelman Theatre of the famed Kimmel Center during their Summer Solstice Celebration. In March 2005, Ella was named “Jazz Ambassador” by the School District of Philadelphia along with her husband Leon Mitchell.
Ella has also appeared at Glen Foerd on The Delaware, Annenberg Zellerbach Theatre in Philadelphia, and in concert at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, and Haverford College, Haverford, PA. For several years, she appeared on both the Bell Atlantic and Mellon Jazz Festivals, and this year, Ella performed at the Mann Music Center’s “Philadelphia on Parade” doing her tribute to the legendary Ms. Nina Simone.
Ella is the vocalist with the Philadelphia Legends of Jazz Orchestra which was featured on the 2000 and 2001 Mellon Jazz Festivals, the 2004 Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz Appreciation Month Celebration at the Clef Club, the 2004 Collingswood, NJ “Jazz In The Wood” Festival, and the 2004 through 2009 West Oak Lane Jazz Festivals in Philadelphia. Ella also performed at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, PA, the Allens Lane Art Center, Cape May Jazz Festival, the Painted Bride Art Center, the 2006-2008 Morrisville Jazz Festivals, and Kutcher’s Country Club in Monticello, NY. Ella has also appeared several times with her Trio at the “Art After 5” Series at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She is also a vocalist with the Clef Club Big Jazz Band which performs throughout Philadelphia and New Jersey. In 2010, Ella & her Trio performed for Mayor Michael Nutter’s Centenarian Celebration acknowledging over 100 living Centenarians in Philadelphia. Ella appeared as special guest with Eddie Bruce and his trio at Moshulu on the Delaware last year, and this year she will be appearing again with Eddie at the Sugar House Casino on Friday, August 10. Ella performs concerts in various locations around the Tri-State area with her Trio, and is known for her classic tributes to the great Nina Simone. All of these associations give Ella the chance to blend with different sounds and tell musical stories in her own unique way while honoring the vocal styles of those great divas who trod the path before her like Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McCrae, Betty Carter, and her namesake, Ella Fitzgerald.
Many consider Ella the country’s best kept secret, which she will change with “By Request,” the 2nd CD documentation of her lovely voice. Ella’s first CD “Immaculate Union” as well as “By Request” are currently in rotation on WRTI-FM Temple Public Radio in Philadelphia, PA. Look out for the Elegant Ms. Ella Gahnt - She's traveling at the speed of swing!
Awards:2005 Jazz Ambassador Award from School District of Philadelphia; 2010 - 1 out of 4 Finalists in Jazz Mobile's Vocal Competition
“Ella Gahnt, attired in gold with a regal smile and the gift of radiant presence, took the stage and breezily sailed through a medley of jazz standards and original tunes with a crystal clear, octave-spanning voice that floated across the room. A professional singer since the age of 18, the quality of her sound told of a woman intimate with the craft of jazz vocalization.” Bill GodfreyCape May Star and Wave, Cape May, NJ
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