the earlier years

bev in 1961


     bev’s musical journey began at the age of five studying classical piano, which she continued through high school. At age fourteen, she began studying voice, which culminated into a four-year vocal scholarship at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. While attending the Conservatory, bev began her professional singing career with the Teddy Raymore Trio. The trio performed not only jazz, but comedy, show tunes and popular music, an invaluable learning experience, giving bev a solid background in show business.

     After the birth of her first son, Greg, bev teamed with gifted pianist Pat Moran. After the successful duo was featured on Steve Allen’s Tonight Show, they made their way to Chicago where they added drummer Johnny Whited and bassist, John Doling, to become the Pat Moran Trio featuring bev kelly. This was not only a trio playing on their own and backing a singer, the four musicians also sang four-part harmony.

      While performing at the Sutherland Hotel on Chicago’s South Side, they were asked to sing on the Bethlehem album, Porgy & Bess featuring Mel Torme and Frances Faye. While in California recording this prestigious album, they recorded their first album on their own with Bethlehem Records, “The Pat Moran Quartet.” When the group eventually worked they way to New York, they recorded their second album with Bethlehem Records, “The Pat Moran Quartet While At Birdland.”

     With a large following of her own devoted fans, bev recorded her first solo album for Audio Fidelity, “Beverly Kelly Sings,” featuring Pat Moran on piano, the late Scott La Faro on bass and Johnny Whited on drums. This album established bev as a ‘bright new star.’ She was nominated in the Downbeat Jazz Poll in 1958 and 1960, and in the Playboy Jazz Poll 1960 through 1968. Her second solo album "Bev Kelly Love Locked Out” was recorded on the Riverside label. During this time, bev was popular in distinguished nightclubs, which included the Cloister Inn, Mister Kelly’s, and the London House in Chicago; and the Village Vanguard in New York.

     While on a record promoting tour in 1960 that took her to the West Coast, bev was in an automobile accident. She stayed in San Francisco and began singing at the Coffee Gallery with Pony Poindexter and his trio, featuring Flip Nunez on piano. While at the Coffee Gallery, bev recorded her second album with Riverside, “Bev Kelly In Person.”

     At this point in bev’s career, most of her fans believed she had ‘dropped out of sight.’ In reality, bev made a monumental decision. She did not feel that having a career and traveling mixed well with being a mom to her son, Greg. So she opted for the latter with no regrets. In 1961, she and her husband, Chuck, moved to the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach, California. In 1963, they had another son, Shawn. During these years, bev began writing poetry and music, making pottery, raising German Shepherds, and working on her doctorate in psychology.

bev 1966 at feliciano's,
newport beach, ca. with
the hampton hawes trio


     Following her creative instincts, bev studied photography. Her credits include pictures for FDR’s Floating White House; bassist, Harry Babasin for “International Musician;” the album cover and back liner for “The Al Williams Quintet Plus One;” photos of various personalities and musicians; and other PR photos and composites for various artists.

     In this ‘down time’ as a performer, bev also worked as a Vocal Coach. Among her students were Gail Farrell, Mary Lou Metzger, and Cissy King of the Lawrence Welk Show, and rock star/actor Rick Springfield, among others.

bev in 1972
bev 1972, photography Robert von Sternberg


     Eventually, word got around that bev kelly was alive and well and living in Long Beach, California. She began periodically working in various clubs with musicians and groups that included Leroy Vinnegar, Frank Rosolino, Jack Wilson, Mike Melvoin, Hampton Hawes, Al Williams, Teddy Edwards and other jazz artists in the Los Angeles area. She also sang on several commercials, which included Chrysler, Continental Airlines, Kentucky Colonel Chicken, etc. She sang the theme song in the opening and closing credits for the Robert Benton film, “The Late Show;” and recorded a series of albums in London, England that were produced by George Korngold for Reader’s Digest, with arrangements by Alan Copeland and Dick Grove.

bev1977.jpg (75251 bytes)
bev 1977 in Naples Island, Ca.
with the Al Williams Trio

     In 1976, bev started working with drummer Al Williams and his 
quintet, which featured the late Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Dwight 
Dickerson on piano. bev and Al often talked of having jazz clubs of 
their own; and in late 1977, an opportunity was presented to Al to 
fulfill his longtime dream and the Jazz Safari was conceived and 

bev had worked in many clubs in a lot of different cities, and the 
Jazz Safari was like no other. Al created and designed a very special 
listening and performing environment with an impeccable sound system 
and a very warm, inviting, and intimate ambience. A lot of good 
music, talent, and love came out of the Jazz Safari; and bev feels 
privileged to have been a part of a very special time and place.

While bev was working at the Jazz Safari, she produced a live two-
night session which resulted in Bev Kelly Live At The Jazz Safari, 
which was released in late June, 2007 on the prestigious SSJ label.


This page was last updated Sunday, 28 July 2013.
Copyright © 2013 bev kelly, ph.d., all rights reserved.