Kelly graces IUS with the sounds of jazz


Grace Kelly performs at the Stem Concert Hall on Jan. 15

Ashley Sizemore and Erica Farley

On stage, dazzling in shiny gold and black pants of a damask pattern, Grace Kelly plays the Sax. As she wiggles and stomps with the beat of the music, her audience involuntarily nods their heads and taps their feet. A soulfulness fills the air as the room becomes thick with the multiple layers and sounds of jazz.

Kelly, a 21-year-old celebrated jazz musician, played at IU Southeast’s Stem Concert Hall Jan. 15 for a last-minute performance. The main floor of the auditorium was halfway filled with students and community members for an enthusiastic,though, less-than-crowded show.

Though young, her website,, boasts of her many accomplishments and accolades, some of which include performing in the ensemble that played at the inauguration celebration of Barack Obama and recording with Harry Conick, Jr, James Cotton and Huey Lewis. She has won several awards including Best National Jazz Act in 2012, all the while managing to graduate from the Berklee College of Music at just 19.

The show began around 7:30 when the quintet, which included a bassist, pianist, guitarist, drummer and Kelly on the alto sax, walked out onto the stage. Overall, 11 songs were performed, most of them composed by Kelly herself. Some of the pieces preformed included,”Philosophical Flying Fish” and “Eggshells”.

“I wrote it because I was very happy,” Kelly said while giving an explanation for the name “Happy Song.”

The fourth song, entitled “Please Don’t Box Me In,” is what Kelly deems a “musical statement.”

Kelly said she can find musical inspiration anywhere, from any genre.

“To me, good music is good music,” Kelly said.

The seventh song that was played entitled, “ What’s it all About?,” is filled with questions that many young individuals could find hard to answer.

“Am I a victim of my own mind? Are you runnin’ from yourself? Are you runnin’, runnin’ to be somebody else?” And finally, the repeating verse in the chorus, “What’s it all about?”

Kelly said that when she is writing her music she sees it as an escape, a way to “get it all out.”

“Writing music is a lot cheaper than going to therapy,” Kelly said.

During the middle of the concert, local accomplished jazz musician Jamey Aebersold got onstage to play a number with the quintet.  After the number was done and Jamey walked off stage to a roar of applause.

“So cool,” Kelly said to the crowd.

Kelly grew up using Aebersold’s instructional jazz books to help her learn to play the saxophone.