Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Kelley Johnson reaches her audience with storytelling, subtlety, soulfulness and swing. Twice chosen to be a Musical Ambassador abroad, her quartet auditioned live and was chosen by Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Center in 2007, and the Kennedy Center in 2004 for lengthy tours for the US State Department. Kelley is the 2003 first place winner of the International Jazzconnect Vocal Competition, and the Jazz Education Journal listed her “Live at Birdland” as a Blue Chip Jazz Vocal album of 2004. Most recently, the CD recording “Music is the Magic” with it’s passionate world-view and original spoken-word, rose to#15 on the national jazz radio chart, Jazzweek. Kelley’s lithe velvety voice mixes with a feisty delivery, tricky colorful arrangements and spirited players like Geoffrey Keezer, Ingrid Jensen, John Hansen, and Brian Lynch. The result is music that is personal and moving....
Always technically accomplished, with a songbird's lightness to her voice, Johnson took a big chance on her last release, Music is the Magic, improvising freely with both words and music. A singer of new spiritual depth emerged, adding Abbey Lincoln-like soul to her Ella Fitzgerald clarity. --Paul de Barros, Seattle Times, September 2006
This terrific album [Music is the Magic] certainly has been worth the wait. Johnson's vocal armoury includes a beautifully mellifluous tone, with an especially captivating lower register. The emotional heart of the album presents a fascinating interweaving of Abbey Lincoln's 'Music is the Magic' with Johnson's own spoken word peice 'The Celebration Place', a daring idea and one which the singer carries off quite brilliantly. Her dovetailing of 'Brother Can You Spare A Dime?' And 'God Bless the Child' also scores highly in the imaginative stakes, as does an unusual reworking of the Bacharach/David classic 'What The World Needs Now.' --Peter Quinn, Jazzwise, May 2006
Kelley Johnson's new album features her own arrangements for the most part. She's able to project smooth to robust tones from her deceptively petite frame. ...her enunciation is flawless at warp speed. --Harvey Siders, JazzTimes, July/August 2006
...crisp, clearly executed, relaxed jazz vocals, ...Johnson has the control and sardonic elan of Carmen McCrae... --Paul de Barros, The Seattle Times
Make Someone Happy' is a Cd that rewards repeated listenings with its unusual frameworks and consistently mature singing...it introduces a potentially significant new voice. --Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene
From the opening note [you become aware of] her phrasing, the trademark of a real pro...arranged by Kelley to perfection...Kelley delivers an outstanding performance. 'So Many Stars' is sheer beauty. --Stix Leonard, The Green Mountain Jazz Messenger
...a singer who can improve on the melody while communicating the emotion of a lyric. When Kelley heads off for some unexplored territory, she never fails to take her audience along for the ride. She packs a lot for the journey; sure pitch, energetic time, great ears and a wide dynamic range. --Nina Harlan, Earshot Jazz
Her voice has warmth and a very attractive underlying sexiness. She is right on each note and phrases with a graceful swing, making it sound all too easy...a sweet and winning debut... --Alan Bargebuhr, Cadence Magazine
Kelley Johnson warmed the room with her comfy low tones and emotional highs. She traverses her range effortlessly, and all of her delicious ornamentation makes sense. --Sandy Bradley, The Seattle Press
With a strong, engaging voice that's winsome without being sweet, Johnson is the kind of singer you can lose yourself in for an evening. --Mark Fefer, The Seattle Weekly
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
In addition to her work with Cornish College of the Arts and MusicWorks Northwest, Kelley is available for private lessons with piano accompaniment at her Capitol Hill studio.
Info: Offered at Kelley's home, this 4-week class concludes with a public performance at Tula's, Seattle's premier jazz club. It's a wonderful opportunity to develop material and play with some of Seattle's finest jazz musicians. Each singer works with the band on their own material, but you also learn from listening and watching each other. You will learn how to rehearse and communicate with the musicians, stylize a song, communicate a lyric, improvise, and transpose songs so they are in the right key for your voice.