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‘Music fusion master’ Grace Kelly to play

Saxophonist and singer-songwriter Grace Kelly will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday in Gorell Recital Hall, located on the second floor of Sutton Hall.

Kelly will be the latest artist to appear at Indiana University of Pennsylvania as part of the Lively Arts’ Ovations! series, which has brought several world-class acts to Indiana in the past academic year, including Mnozil Brass, Sybarite5 and a production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Kelly’s website bills her as a “music fusion master,” an artist whose tastes vary widely enough to please almost any music fan.

Kelly, 21, made her first album, “Dreaming,” in 2005 when she was 12.

Since then, Kelly’s discography has grown to include seven more albums including recordings with jazz saxophone legends Lee Konitz on 2008’s “GracefullLee” and Phil Woods on 2011’s “The Man With the Hat.”

Kelly’s repertoire on her discography ranges from familiar jazz standards such as “Everytime We Say Goodbye” and “I’ll Remember April” to an entire album devoted to spiritual music such as “Amazing Grace” and “Wade in the Water – Bemsha Swing” to original songs, found most prevalently on her newest album, 2013’s “Live at Scullers.”

Kelly said she grew up in a very musical household and that her interest in playing music and performing began when she started to play the piano at age 6.

“My parents played great music in a lot of styles around the house,” she said. “I was kind of breathing it in.”

After a brief stint with the clarinet in fourth grade, Kelly said, she began to play her primary instrument, the saxophone, at age 10.

Kelly has compared her own sound to that of sweeter, more laid-back players in the rich history of jazz.

“I was always very drawn to players like Paul Desmond and Johnny Hodges,” she said. “They have a very melodic sound that has a human voice in it.”

Kelly’s smooth tone and chill style of playing is reflected in her original songs and contrasts more intense, aggressive playing by other jazz titans like John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.

As far as Kelly’s songwriting goes, she said that her influences come from a massive number of artists. Kelly cited Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and British singer-songwriter Jessie Ware as influences, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her musical tastes.

“I’ve been getting into more bands and artists I haven’t heard of before,” she said. “It’s opened up a whole new world of sounds for me.”

Kelly also expressed her excitement to perform at IUP.

“I always love to go to a new place to perform,” she said. “I love the interaction with both music and non-music students.”

Kelly will be appearing with four other musicians, making a quintet of drums, guitar, bass, trumpet and saxophone.

Wynton Marsalis, trumpeter and one of the biggest names in jazz today, once said of Kelly: “Grace Kelly plays with intelligence, wit and feeling. She has a great amount of natural ability and the ability to adapt that is the hallmark of a first-class jazz musician.”

Kelly’s entire discography is available for purchase on iTunes or instant listening on Spotify.

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