Division: Contemporary Music
Program: Jazz Studies
Kathleen Grace is an adjunct instructor in vocal jazz at the USC Thornton School of Music and serves as director of the USC CreSCendo Vocal Jazz Ensemble. She has quickly gained a national reputation as a skilled jazz vocalist, lyricist, composer and educator.
Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Grace received her undergraduate degree from Tufts University, where she first explored vocal arts with the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She studied free vocal jazz improvisation under the direction of Molly Holm, an original member of Bobby McFerrin’s ensemble Voicestra. Grace received her master’s in jazz studies from the USC Thornton School where she studied under mentors Tierney Sutton and Shelly Berg.
Grace has performed at festivals in Europe, the U.S., and South America. She was a finalist in the 2004 Montreux International Jazz Vocal Competition and was awarded a spot in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Residency for young composers at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Her first CD, Sunrise, received critical acclaim as one of the top debuts of the year and earned a Blue Chip Award from IAJE jazz critic Herb Wong. Her latest CD, Mirror, released on the Monsoon label, is now establishing her reputation as a composer and lyricist. Her musical quintet, The Kathleen Grace Band, blurs the boundaries between musical genres using jazz language to explore the spaces between the worlds of folk, rock and jazz. A lover of American popular song, Grace is now among the vanguard of a small but exciting movement of young jazz singers who are, in her words, stepping “outside the box of the American Songbook into the world of original music.” She and her band have traveled and appeared in both jazz and rock venues from California to New York.
Grace is a passionate jazz educator who has served as a clinician for jazz ensembles, solo jazz programs and creativity workshops around the country.