Emerging jazz artist to work with Chanhassen High students

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Inside Chanhassen High School is an emerging jazz super star artist with small saxophone and a big sound.

“I was ten years old when I first started the saxophone,” said Grace Kelly, professional saxophonist and singer. “I was six when I first started the classical piano and I’ve always been singing.”  

Kelly wrote her first song at seven years old, recorded her first CD at 12 and performed with the Boston Pops by 14. She’s now a recording and performing artist.

“Yah, my style is pretty eclectic,” said Kelly. “I love bright colors, vivid everything. So, that comes through in my music. My band, we mix up the history of jazz with electronic natures, I call it like electro pop.” 

But she also teaches. She’s the guest artist and clinician Saturday night at the Jazz Fest at Chanhassen High School.

“It’s incredibly important to teach these young minds about improvisation, which is the heart of jazz,” said Kelly. “It’s important within the music and it’s also important within each their lives because improvisation and jazz has become a beautiful teacher for me in my life of how to open up my mind, let the creativity in. Think in a different way, go from point A to point B in a much more flexible, improvisational way.”

The Jazz Fest celebrates its 25th year led by Chanhassen band director Paul Swanson. Its mission is to simply expose grade school and high school students to this most American form of music.

“When I teach I see a lot of light bulbs go off, well, if I’m lucky I see a lot of light bulbs go off, and that moment is so precious to basically see somebody else have this same sort of experience that they connect, the music, the singing into their own life,” said Kelly.

Connections that Kelly hopes the audience feels on Saturday night, too.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she said. “I always like to bring the joy when I’m playing music and some of the things I’ve heard about the students that they have a lot of excitement too and it’s going to be a great time, I think people are really going to enjoy the music.”  

Grace Kelly will be performing with the students at the Jazz Fest at Chanhassen High School Saturday night. The concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.