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Bev Kelly

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  • Years Active: 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Bev Kelly made a strong impression in the 1950s as a jazz singer, and has made a few musical comebacks since then while pursuing other careers. Kelly started studying classical piano when she was five, continuing through high school. She also studied classical voice at 14 and four years later was awarded a vocal scholarship to Cincinnati's Conservatory of Music. During 1954-1957, she was part of a group billed as "The Pat Moran Trio featuring Bev Kelly." All four musicians (which included pianist Moran) sang in four-part harmony. They recorded two albums for Bethlehem and were part of an ambitious multi-artist recording of the music from Porgy and Bess. In late 1957, Kelly recorded her first album as a leader. She went out on her own, recording two albums for Riverside (Love Locked Out and Bev Kelly in Person) and working in San Francisco with pianist Flip Nunez and altoist Pony Poindexter.

In 1961 when she was 27, Kelly decided to stop performing so as to raise her son. She settled in the Los Angeles area where she wrote music and poetry, worked as a professional photographer, did some session work, and was a vocal coach. In 1966, she returned to singing in clubs on a part-time basis, performing with local greats including trombonist Frank Rosolino and pianist Hampton Hawes. In 1972 she made three albums for Reader's Digest in London and a few years later she worked with Al Williams' quintet in Long Beach. During 1978-1980 she was an investor in the Jazz Safari, a club in Long Beach where she occasionally performed.

Bev Kelly earned a Doctorate in Psychology in 1984, becoming a psychotherapist. She has mostly stayed retired from music since then, although in 2002 she recorded Portrait of Nine Dreams, a set of autobiographical poems.