Elena Welch to Play at the Volcano Art Center

The Summer of Jazz continues at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus on August 27 at 7:30 pm when the incredible voice of Elena Welch joins the Volcano Art Center Jazz Ensemble lead by Junior “Volcano” Choy and backed by drummer Bruce David, Brian McCree on bass, Gary Washburn and Kyle Matsuda on piano. Tickets for this concert are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

According to Concerts Coordinator David Wallerstein “This is the final concert of our first ever Jazz Series in Volcano, each concert has been standing room only, the music has been of the highest artistic quality, and now people from all over the Big Island are coming to Volcano to celebrate great Jazz with us”.

Elena Welch was raised in a small town on the Spoon River, 5 hours southwest of Chicago, Illinois. Her father, a fine artist, listened mostly to opera records and the Spanish classical guitar sound. She started sounding out melodies on the piano at age 4 and begged for piano lessons. This was not small request for a cash-strapped family of seven, but fortunately a way was found and Elena began classical piano lessons at age 5. Elena does have the natural gift of a strong voice and the love of performing. In college she was moved to the high soprano section—not because she had a high voice, but because her alto range boomed. Annoyed, teachers moved Elena to the soprano section where her voice would “blend”. It was during this time in the soprano section that Elena found the key in strengthening her voice and technique. Elena teamed up with the legendary bebop jazz pianist, Tommy Ponce and together we formed trios to sextets and worked the clubs and street festivals in Chicago. Elena’s first full booking was Chicago’s Argyle Street Festival. Elena learned so much just by hanging out at Chicago jazz clubs listening to and jamming with the local cats. Dave Shumacher, friend and exquisite baritone sax player, gave her two LPs, one featuring vocalist Abbey Lincoln and the other featuring vocalist Betty Carter. These records would become major influences in her singing style. Two cuts from these LPs are featured on “Catnip Cafe”. Neal Kristie, friend and cabaret singer extraordinare, introduced Elena to jazz vocalist Anita O’Day. The tune “Four” is a tribute to Anita and to the late Mr. Kristie.  

For tickets ($15 advance & $20 day of performance) to Elena Welch’s  Jazz performance or any other VAC concerts, call David Wallerstein at 808-967-8222 or visit Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus, VAC Art Gallery in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; Books, Nooks & Crannies in Hilo or www.volcanoartcenter.org.

Volcano Art Center is a 501 ( c ) (3) non-profit educational organization created in 1974. VAC promotes, develops, and perpetuates the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Hawai’i through the arts and education.

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