Lauren Desberg Photo

Lauren Desberg Photo

 

Elvanelle Bio

Elvanelle is the time-traveling persona of award-winning jazz vocalist and instrumentalist Kimberly Hawkey. Elements of traditional jazz, vaudeville, blues, roots and contemporary music fuse through the shifting sounds of a modern jazz band. Elvanelle's original songs provide a vintage-inspired contrast to re-spun traditionals borrowed from the American folk and jazz idioms.

Kimberly's debut as Elvanelle began with a crowdfunded album released under her own name in 2016. The album, titled "Elvanelle & The Escape Act", features a 6-piece modern jazz band plus string quartet and a supporting ensemble of woodwinds, percussion and brass to evoke a classic Hollywood sound. The driving rhythm section, lead trumpet and soaring vocals bring the 100-year-old tradition into a new era through daring reinterpretations of American song. No style is out of bounds for Elvanelle when serving up a musical story.

The inspiration for Elvanelle came during preparation for the August 2016 recording and release, when Kimberly purchased a stack of vintage sheet music on eBay. The pieces of music, with their beautiful color illustrations, were to be distributed as Kickstarter perks along with the album. While sorting through the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s popular songs, Kimberly noticed handwritten names jotted neatly on the covers: "Elvanell Ellison", "Mrs. John Horton", "Elva Nell". Some appeared to be gifts from "Daddy" and "Eddie Mayfield". Some were in her personal collection since her maiden days as a teen and some were acquired as a married woman. With each signature, Kimberly dreamed up a new characteristic for this woman of the past. She discovered that Elvanell was born in 1917 in New Mexico and passed on in the 90s while she lived in California. Kimberly only knows what she can imagine about one of the billions of Americans with a shared affinity for classic pop and jazz music. The gap between past and present suddenly disappeared. The blurred lines of historical and future music created a time-travel effect for both performer and listener. After reaching out to her living relatives, Kimberly knows one bit of factual knowledge about the time-traveling-imaginary-persona-meets-real-life figure: She liked "strong coffee in a china cup: always with a saucer." 

About Elvanelle's Kimberly Hawkey:
Kimberly Hawkey is a song revivalist. Inspired by great lyrics and melodies of the last century, she lends her voice to jazz, folk and pop to deliver the collective soul of great music to a new generation. She can be heard performing her celebrated blend in jazz clubs, concert halls, cabarets, theaters, and educational centers - bringing with her the most versatile musicians of the rising scene. As Bandleader and Co-Founder of The Swingaroos Territory Band, her Big Band-era sound earned her praise as "a true lead singer with real presence and substance behind the style" (Sarasota Observer), while BroadwayWorld.com called her "a delightfully fresh-voiced treat" for an Award-winning musical theatre performance. Studio recordings as a bandleader include "All Aboard" by The Swingaroos, and the newly recorded "Elvanelle & The Escape Act" - a curation of American song and originals backed by a jazz ensemble.

Kimberly is also  a dedicated music educator with 10 years experience in vocal and piano instruction. She offers Jazz Singing, A Capella Improv, American Song, and Musical Theatre Audition workshops to musicians of all ages through her company, Elvanelle Music. Kimberly is a former Artistic Administrator at Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts, where she worked with world-class musicians and teaching artists before venturing out to join them. 

Recognition: Kimberly has won awards for her versatile performances of American Song through the American Traditions Competition (Gold Medalist & Johnny Mercer Award Winner), Jazz Forum Arts Vocal Competition (Winner), The NYC Cabaret Showdown (2x Winner) and was honored by Onstage as one of the "Top Actresses in a Regional Musical" for Dot/Marie in Sunday in the Park with George. Kimberly has been featured twice in Cabaret Scenes magazine and received rhapsodic reviews for performances with her 1940s band, THE SWINGAROOS and for the release of their original album All Aboard, available on Bandcamp

Appearances: Caramoor Center for Music & The Arts; Clayton Jazz Festival; Django Jazz Club; The Intrepid Museum; Maureen's Jazz Cellar; Laurie Beechman Theatre; Florida Studio Theatre; Birdland; Fort Lee Film Commission; Under St. Mark's Theatre; Elmwood Playhouse; Savannah Theatre; Lucas Theatre for the Arts; White Plains Performing Arts Center; Metropolitan Room; Nyack Art Collective; Zinc Bar; (among others).

Original Shows: THE SWINGAROOS (5-week run at Florida Studio Theatre); AS HERSELF: A Celebration of Big Band Cameos (Premiered 2015. Metropolitan Room NYC); SOUNDIES (Original swing-era musical. Staged Reading - Musical Theatre Factory NYC); SPUN (Cabaret Debut. Premiered 2013. Metropolitan Room NYC).