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Julie Kelly Julie Kelly

The late, respected jazz critic Leonard Feather once said of jazz singer Julie Kelly, “Julie Kelly radiates a sense of joy and spontaneity. Listening to her, you are reminded that jazz singing is still alive and well!” Feather's successor at the Los Angeles Times, the veteran critic Don Heckman, referred to Kelly as having, “one of the finest vocal jazz instruments of the '90's”.

Born in Oakland, California, Kelly grew up absorbing herself in gospel, blues and jazz in addition to pop and classical music. “When I was 13,” she remembers, “I was listening to Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, as well as Dave Brubeck, and those wonderful albums with Miles Davis and Gil Evans. It wasn't long before I was sneaking into clubs in Oakland in order to hear people like Earl “Fatha” Hines.” She added: “The blues is what guides me, and the great ones have shown the way.”

All of these various musical influences are, in some form or other, incorporated into her latest and best vocal album, “Kelly Sings Christy”. Her complete understanding of the nuances, so much a part of various ballads associated with June Christy, are resplendent in this CD. In addition, Tom Garvin's excellent arrangements work perfectly in tandem with Kelly's delightful re-interpretations of the songs.

Her earliest musical performing experience consisted of choral singing while attending Catholic prep schools that proceeded her forming a folk and blues duo with her twin sister, Kate, in the 1970's to work in local coffee houses. The duo also performed as the opening act for Peter, Paul and Mary and also appeared at the well-remembered Fillmore Auditorium produced by the then-emerging rock impresario, Bill Graham. At Oakland City College, Kelly took a jazz appreciation class from the noted jazz pianist George Duke and attended workshops conducted by vibist Bobby Hutcherson.

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”Happy To Be has it all: fine instrumental solos, a Rolls-Royce rhythm section, sharp arrangements, choice material, and a stellar singer who makes great use of it all.” —Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz

“Great tone, magnificent phrasing and the innate ability to sing with the band and not around them has Happy to Be one of the more entertaining vocal releases this year.” — Brent Black, Critical Jazz

Primary Instrument

Voice / vocals


Los Angeles

Willing to teach

Advanced only


Julie is a much sought-after private teacher, clinician and workshop director. She received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Jazz from Cal State Northridge and is a member of both N.A.T.S. (National Association of Teachers of Singing) and I.A.J.E. (International Association of Jazz Educators). Julie brings performing expertise to her teaching practice and her experience gained from studying with diverse and masterful teachers – Canadian-born pianist Phil Cohen, Zen Master Maezumi Roshi and jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan. Julie can be found in Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of Jazz.

Clinic/Workshop Information

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Julie Kelly Concerts

Date Detail Price
Julie Kelly
SOhO Restaurant & Music Club
Santa Barbara, CA


Album Happy To Be by Julie Kelly

Happy To Be

Jazzed Media

Album Everything I Love by Julie Kelly

Everything I Love

Chase Music Group

Album Into the Light by Julie Kelly

Into the Light

Chase Music Group

Album Stories to Tell by Julie Kelly

Stories to Tell

Chase Music Group

Album Some Other Time by Julie Kelly

Some Other Time

Chase Music Group




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Cathy Segal-Garcia Cathy Segal-Garcia
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Denise Donatelli Denise Donatelli
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Susan Krebs Susan Krebs
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Martha Lorin Martha Lorin
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