Kelsey James


Kelsey James is more than just your typical lady crooner from Melbourne. She is also the first Australian to have composed music for Sesame Street! Vocally, she has explored traditional and popular jazz, gypsy swing, punk rock, indie pop and ensemble singing. Her live performances are spontaneous, sensitive, and passionate. Her compositional abilities support her live improvisation, and her original music has featured in award winning advertising campaigns and films.

Although forbidden by the strict religious laws of her childhood, Kelsey would sneak out and listen to Michael Jackson and The Beach Boys on her portable tape recorder. Thus her obsession with rhythm and harmony was born. Her mother's love of old movies and musicals gave Kelsey a strong sense of theatre and an appetite for jazz. As a teenager, she developed her powerful vocal technique under the tutelage of world-renowned voice coach, Kim Chandler. Then, the advent of alternative rock and grunge in the '90s gave her the impetus to compose her own music.

Today Kelsey performs in various music venues, jazz clubs, and festivals all across Australia. Both as a solo vocalist, and as part of popular Melbourne swing sextet, 'The Furbelows'. Her piano compositions for the world famous STA travel advertising campaign, 'Move, Eat, Learn', are still in high demand throughout the globe. She is currently signed as a composer to Native Tongue Music Publishing. 

Kelsey's dream is to sing her music in as many parts of the world as possible! She is also beginning work on a studio album of original music, collaborating with musicians from the varied genres of her past.  In the meantime, she'll continue to bring smiles to the faces of lovers of swing, jazz and original music in venues throughout Melbourne and the rest of Australia. 

"Kelsey James' voice can make the grandest theatre and the most beer-sodden dingy pub into an intimate epiphany." (Andy Jackson, The Age)

"Move will make you want to jump off your seat and hit the road...the catchy, life-affirming music doesn't hurt either." (Mark Johanson, International Business Times)

"She puts her whole heart into everything she does and is one of the most talented and amazing people I have ever met." (Rick Mereki, Director of 'Move, Eat, Learn')

"Learn will teach you there's no shame in crying at your desk from watching a viral video (damn you, charming, life-affirming music that accompanies you, damn you!) (Aly Semigran, Entertainment Weekly)

"Kelsey's tunes are awesome. She's one of those people who just naturally writes in a big web of complex time signatures." (Ryan Monro, The Cat Empire)

"Kelsey James is a force of nature!" (Nikos Fotakis, Australian Jazz Online)


Photographer: Shami Kiely

Musician: Kelsey James