In January of 2019, members of the Van Wert Live staff traveled to New York City to experience the APAP Conference (Association Of Performing Arts Professionals) to discover new talent for the Niswonger stage. What we discovered was a jazz performer who commanded the stage and played to the audience like none ever witnessed before. The pure energy and extraordinary talent of Grace Kelly delivered jazz in a fresh new way. 

Grace Kelly is an accomplished performer who is not new to the national scene but certainly a new arriver to less urban markets. This is where Van Wert Live shines by introducing new cultural flavors to the musical blend of Northwest Ohio. Grace Kelly will set the night on fire in Van Wert at The Niswonger on Friday, September 23 at 7:30 PM. Tickets from just $15 are available at

So just who is this absurdly talented, phenom-performing, sax aficionado, that was featured by Vanity Fair as a millennial shaking up the jazz world? Kelly’s state-of-the-art brand of electro jazz-pop and inventive digital content are pushing her to the forefront of the fusion scene, alongside names like Snarky Puppy, Jacob Collier, Cory Henry, Robert Glasper, Jon Batiste, and Too Many Zooz.

Her storied accomplishments rave of her talents. Kelly was named the winner of “Song of the Year” for her single “Feels Like Home” in the 2018 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, and has been named nine times consecutively in the Annual Downbeat Magazines Critics Poll “Rising Star Alto Saxophone” from the age of 17 in 2009 and winning the poll in 2017 (Youngest ever named to Downbeat critics poll in 2009.). She has also won multiple ASCAP Composer Awards, Boston Music Awards, and International Songwriting Awards.  She has also appeared as a featured performer in films and television, including the acclaimed documentary “Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story”, Amazon’s Emmy-nominated original series “Bosch”, and featured in the 2017 Emmy-winning Yamaha production “The Right Note”

Here are some interesting facts and just a few reasons why you don't want to miss Grace Kelly's performance at The Niswonger on Friday, September 23 at 7:30 PM.


Q: What does it mean to me to play so many different instruments along with being a composer, arranger, and singer?

“Playing many different instruments are like tools in becoming a greater musician. Playing piano is a huge thing for my composition writing and knowing more and more instruments helps me write and arrange better. I took a little time to learn instruments such as bass and drums as well specifically to help my writing for the rhythm section. Besides the alto saxophone and voice, I also play soprano saxophone, flute, and some clarinet and tenor saxophone. I really enjoy playing these because they act as different voices. They are all different ranges and different colors and depending on what type of song I’m playing, they may suit it better. Being a composer, arranger and singer is very important to me. They are the other aspects of me and playing my own music is extremely powerful to me. That is a side of me that cannot come out of improvising and is truly my feeling and memories wrapped up in a song. Singing my own songs or other composers’ songs is very enjoyable because I have the words to express many different feelings. Being able to meld singing and playing gives me many ways to express myself and I think about both of them equally but in a different light.”


Q: Why did I decide to be a jazz musician?

“I have always been drawn to the concept of improvising. I love the fact that in jazz you are creating music at the moment and every performance is different from the next. I can play the same song 200 times and each time it will be different. There is no other art form that you can do that and that is where I believe all the magical moments between musicians and memorable performances are made. When I was 6 years old I started learning music on classical piano but could never stick to the notes written on the page, I would always drift off and make up my own music. That’s when my parents and I realized maybe classical music wasn’t going to be my thing and started taking jazz lessons.”


Q: Why do I want to play different musical idioms?

“It’s really boring to me to just stick with one genre and only play one thing. When I was growing up I wasn’t just listening to jazz. I listened to a lot of Broadway and American songbooks. I also listened to a lot of contemporary music and old-school pop like Paul McCartney, (the Beatles) Stevie Wonder, Sting, Billy Joel, and James Taylor. I continue to listen to a big range and as much music of different types as I can today. I play jazz, heavy blues, rock, and funk, whatever I have the opportunity to do. I love it all and it seems natural that it all comes out in my music. It’s like a subconscious thing now when I’m writing for different genres to come out in my music.”


Q: How do I try to be different- as an instrumentalist, and as singer?

“If I try to express who I am, and not copy someone else, that in itself makes me different. The biggest thing for me is to try to find my own voice. I listen to many different artists but when it comes to my own shows, I’m playing my own music and just trying to sound like me. I think the mixture of the horn and singing makes my music different and unique as well. It is a different sound and my writing and arrangements, in general, bring a new fusion to the music.”

Don't take our word for it. Please visit You have to see it to believe it. You have to hear it to believe it. You have to experience it to be fully amazed by it. If you like jazz or not, The Niswonger is the perfect place to experience something more than you'd known before. Try something new. Bring a few friends with you. You'll be thrilled to find that Grace dances too!