Kelley Johnson is an international award winning jazz vocalist who is known and respected as an arranger, poet and lyricist with a personal body of recordings. Kelley’s lithe velvety voice mixes with a dynamic delivery and tricky colorful arrangements to showcase her interpretive finesse and inspired soloists. An organic groovy singer with a direct approach, Kelley reaches her audience with storytelling, subtlety, soulfulness and swing.
Kelley Johnson has twice been chosen to be a musical ambassador abroad. Her quartet auditioned live for Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center for lengthy tours for the US State Department in 2004 and 2008. Since her celebrated debut recording “Make Someone Happy” with Fred Hersch, she has achieved critical acclaim with every recording. “Music is the Magic” from which “Tea For Two” garnered her First-Place in the 2003 International Jazzconnect Vocal Competition was recorded in Brooklyn in 2002 and produced by the brilliant trumpeter, Brian Lynch. The Jazz Education Journal listed the ensuing “Live at Birdland”, taped in one special night at the historic New York City club, as a Blue Chip Jazz Vocal album of 2004.
For Kelley, music is the magic and having performed all over the world, in part under the auspices of the State Department's Jazz Ambassadors program, The Rhythm Road, the big highlights for her come from her connection with the audience. An email from an appreciative fan from Kyrgyzstan exemplifies the power of musical communication: "I felt your spirit through the meanings of your songs, the spirit of revolutionary person who is for true and fair world of people." As Wynton Marsalis says, “Swing is a natural agent of diplomacy”.
Kelley has served as a professor at Cornish College of the Arts and Director of the Seattle Metropolitan Urban League’s Children’s Jazz Chorus among countless other musical ventures.