Music was a pervasive presence in her upbringing. Nancy's mother was an accomplished pianist and her father's love of music provided the impetus for what was to become her trademark; the epitome of style, swing and intonation. Eventually a mixture of intimacy and a take no prisoner scatting style would complete the transformation from student to star.
Studying piano, drama, clarinet, voice and dance at The Eastman School of music gave Miss Kelly the foundation for the impact she would later make on the jazz world.
At age 18 Nancy toured the country with a rock band and discovered that by improvising and changing the phrasing and melody, she could create a new dimension in her singing, and in so doing, a true jazz singer was born.
A 4 year stint in Philadelphia headlining at a top jazz spot, she says, was "A jazz school for me, those cats knew every tune in every key" Now the metamorphosis is complete, Atlantic City Casinos, Birdland in New York , The Blue Note and engagements from Miami to Los Angeles followed, with jazz fests and Asian tours in between, created a fan base unrivalled in jazz circles.
The past two years have found Nancy listed as one of the top vocalists in DownBeats annual reader's poll, which is a testament to her artistry.
Nancy Kelly's insightful introspective on jazz singing is summed up quite accurately, when she states "Becoming a great jazz singer is not an overnight process, it is a delicate balance of head and heart, one takes what one has learned about the art form and combines it with lifes experiences..and then you jump"
Miss Kelly describes her modus operandi as a swing singer infused with the bop idiom.
She can lull you with ballads or detonate a musical powder keg of show stopping proportions.
Quite analogous to the magic of Nancy Kelly, one might say, "What sunflowers were to Van Gogh, Nancy Kelly is to jazz".....
She is a true treasure imbued with sensitivity and grace and born to swing. In a word, THE REAL DEAL.