Grace Kelly performing live at a virtual event at UNR.

Grace Kelly performing in the first live virtual event of UNR’s Performing Arts Series. Photo Emilie Rodriguez/Nevada Sagebrush.

The School of the Arts at the University of Nevada, Reno presented Grace Kelly as the first artist in their 60th annual Performing Arts Series. A virtual live event was streamed for the university community on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m., with a full musical set and a Q&A session to end the evening. 

Grace Kelly is a singer, songwriter, saxophonist and piano player. The 28-year-old musician has taken the jazz genre by storm with 13 acclaimed albums and an array of performances that has included playing in the house band for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” at the Hollywood Bowl. 

At a young age, Kelly was playing with world-renowned orchestras and was labeled by critics as a musical prodigy. Kelly also played at the 2008 presidential inauguration for Barack Obama. 

Kelly has quite the accomplished resume, which Shoshana Zeldner, UNR’s special events program manager, highlighted at the beginning of the virtual event.

With the pandemic has limited the opportunity for Zeldner and her team to host in-person performances. Kelly, however, took up the challenge to explore a virtual set for the university community, and it did not disappoint. With little to no hiccups at the start of the performance, Kelly and her band played hit songs from a variety of albums. 

With an active camera crew and great studio set, Kelly performed with heart and soul as she took on singing, playing the piano and showcasing her stunning skills on the saxophone. 

Kelly also strived to interact with her audience as she welcomed attendees to sing, clap and dance along to her show. 

Kelly was accompanied by Ross Pederson (drums), Devon Yesberger (piano/vocals) and Julia Adamy (bass/vocals). The filming for the performance also took place at Virtue & Vice Studios in Brooklyn, New York. 

A song that really stood out to the audience was “By The Grave,” which is a powerful piece about a fictional character who has lost a loved one and is mourning by their grave.

“I just felt all of the emotions coming through,” Zeldner said at the end of the set. “It was really incredible.” 

After the performance, Zeldner and Kelly sat down together for a Q&A session with questions submitted by the audience. Unfortunately, there were a variety of audio complications that resulted in many attendees leaving the performance. However, after Zeldner and her team came up with a quick audio solution, those who stuck around for the end of the show were not disappointed. 

Kelly gave great insight about what it was like to be a musician during the pandemic, and how audiences could support their favorite artists. Kelly also gave great advice for students wanting to pursue a career in music. 

“To anyone thinking of pursuing a career in music, you’ve got to love it 200 percent,” Kelly said. “You have to eat, breath, love, and need to do this music thing.” 

Kelly noted that people who want to be a professional and performing musician need to have a passion for their work. She also said that aspiring artists need to master their craft and learn about the music industry. 

As the Q&A session wrapped up, Kelly’s final words were to encourage women to pursue music and to fight to make the industry a more diverse place.

The evening ended with Kelly hoping to visit UNR in person in September 2021. If students missed this performance, it is still on-demand for the next 2 weeks, and they can find more information on the UNR events website. Students can also be on the lookout for Oct. 27 to see the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company perform live at 6 p.m. in another virtual event. 

Emilie Rodriguez can be reached at erodriguez@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @emilieemeree.