“It’s refreshing to hear a new singer who recalls wisps of Carmen McRae’s ginger snap, Betty Carter’s yawning reach, Anita O’Day’s feline purr and Nancy Wilson’s crystalline enunciation – and still assert herself! Johnson rivets our attention to the lyrics…but just tune in to her sailing, buoyant rhythm sections and her bright, eminently convincing musicianship.”
– Fred Bouchard, Downbeat
Jazz singer Kelley Johnson is a gifted communicator. She means what she sings and infuses her phrasing with understated depth and interpretive finesse. Known for her twisty arrangements of reworked standards, velvety-rich ballads, and relentless swing, Johnson and her top-notch bandmates create modern jazz out of classic repertoire while keeping the songs soulfully intact.
An artist who aims to connect the audience with our collective experience through jazz music, Johnson has been repeatedly selected for international awards and touring opportunities. In 2008 her quartet won their second, coveted performing-and-teaching tour as U.S. State Department jazz ambassadors after auditioning for Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Center. Johnson also won the initial Seattle-Kobe Female Jazz Vocalist Competition in 2005, and she received first place in the 2003 International JazzConnect Vocal Competition.
Johnson is a music educator, composer, arranger, lyricist, poet, and producer of four chart-making jazz albums that have been internationally distributed on her own label, Sapphire Records. The Jazz Education Journal listed her “Live at Birdland” as a Blue Chip Jazz Vocal album of 2004, and her 2005 CD recording “Music is the Magic,” with its passionate world-view and original spoken-word, rose to #15 on the national jazz radio chart, JazzWeek. Kelley is currently touring to promote her latest CD release “Home,” which she says, “explores our connection to each other and the way we deal with life’s circumstances.”
Kelley Johnson graduated magna cum laude from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music with an AA in Jazz Performance, and later received her BA from the University of Washington. An established vocal clinician at universities and jazz camps, Johnson has been conductor and artistic director of the Seattle Metropolitan Urban League’s Children’s Jazz Chorus and is a past instructor at Cornish College of the Arts. She is currently on the faculty at MusicWorks Northwest in Bellevue and the Seattle Drum School in Georgetown.
Kelley and husband John Hansen live happily in Seattle’s historic Madison Valley, where they provide a home for Nana, the cutest kitty on earth.