Kemp’s passion for performing and diverse musical tastes were evident from childhood. She began classical voice training at age 13, sang with a professional choir at 17, and performed in numerous theatrical productions throughout her native San Francisco Bay Area during her teenage years. She won recognition along the way, including top awards in several vocal performance categories at the California State Talent Competition in 1995. She attended the elite arts high school Idyllwild Arts Academy for her senior year, intensifying her study of musical theater, in anticipation of pursuing a 4-year degree from a college conservatory program. Upon graduating, she spent a summer sampling a different kind of singing – Rock – at Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in the U.K.
At age 18, Kemp took an abrupt detour from her creative career path. Forgoing scholarships to some of the nation’s top college conservatory programs, she instead chose to follow what she now confesses felt like a “safer, more practical” path, and went on to pursue a degree in Communication Studies from Northwestern University. That “practical” path led her into a corporate marketing career. For the next decade-and-a-half, she was, as she describes it, “a cubicle gypsy”: working in marketing roles in industries ranging from Tech to Wine, finding some creative fulfillment in the design and writing aspects of her marketing work, but still feeling perpetually unsatisfied by life in the corporate world. Music represented the path-not-taken for Kemp, until 2015, when she made the bold decision to change careers and revisit her earliest passion: singing.
Mandy Kemp sounds so at home her jazz EP... that it is surprising that it took her so long to discover jazz... ~ Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene