Gretchen Elise is a West Philadelphia- based singer-songwriter whose jazz-based, interactive original music is unforgettable. Debuting with the title role to Amahl and the Night Visitors at ten, she enjoyed the spoils of a good public school music education, including choir, bell choir and piano, a source of her later advocacy for arts education in schools. She lived music through gymnastics and dance choreography before returning to composition and vocal performance in her 20’s. She has performed and composed in the five languages she speaks with a World Music Orchestra in Berlin, jazz and Brazilian groups in Boston and Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Jazz Project (PJP)- spawned DivaNation PHILLY, and in her own eponymous band since 2004. Gretchen received a master’s degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and was schooled on arts and activism through a decade of study with Mexican-born jazz artist, the late Mili Bermejo.
Gretchen uses performance as a catalyst to community building. Her town hall-style shows involve the whole audience. Equally inspired by writing and composition, she has written lyrics and arrangements for PJP initiatives, including a Sun Ra-inspired series re-formulating the Roots/Erykah Badu’s You Got Me and Alphonzo Johnson’s Involuntary Bliss. Her primary original recordings Time & Space (2010) and Are You Ready (2004) combine “a signature blend of jazz, world, RnB and hip hop” (Boston Globe). Gretchen is currently recording her third original release. Sometimes political, sometimes personal, Gretchen Elise’s penchant for a good hook will have you singing her songs on repeat.