All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Kelley Johnson

Kelley Johnson

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.

Kelley Johnson grew up all over the place, but mostly she grew up in Ironwood, Michigan. Surrounded by the sounds of music, her mother was a painter who filled the studio with the music of the 60s, 70s, R&B, country, jazz and especially the blues. When her mother was severely injured in a tragic auto accident, her family took in boarders to make ends meet. Among their guests were singers, songwriters, actors, and comedians who introduced Kelley to more music. Around the time that she and her mother and sister moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she began to absorb Billie and Miles records. “Jazz had become a beacon for me”, she says. She began hanging out at Milwaukee’s Jazz Gallery learning the vernacular from Brian Lynch, David Hazeltine and the cats while studying Betty Carter five nights in a row on her annual visit to town. Her education grew to be both both formal (Magna Cum Laude from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music) and informal (gigging in Milwaukee jazz clubs). This two-fold education and her subsequent career experience produced a schooled musician who was growing into a jazz singer.

Read more

Tags

Album Review
Read more articles
Johnson has an uplifting brightness in her vocal delivery...Her lovely voice stands out for it's emphatic clarity and for it's direct approach. Johnson is a true communicator.” --Jim Santella, All About Jazz

“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

Read more

Primary Instrument

Voice / vocals

Willing to teach

Advanced only

Credentials/Background

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

Read more

Albums

Album Home by Kelley Johnson

Home

Sapphire
2008

buy

Watch

Similar

Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald
voice / vocals
Carmen McRae Carmen McRae
voice / vocals
Jeremy Pelt Jeremy Pelt
trumpet
James Moody James Moody
woodwinds
Greta Matassa Greta Matassa
voice / vocals
Jackie Ryan Jackie Ryan
voice / vocals
Dee Daniels Dee Daniels
voice / vocals
Irene Kral Irene Kral
voice / vocals
Belinda Underwood Belinda Underwood
voice / vocals
Dan Cray Dan Cray
piano
Denise Donatelli Denise Donatelli
voice / vocals

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.