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The 3rd Time Is Special - Ella Gahnt CD Project

Ela Gahnt CD Cover

Third Stage of Elegance

Ella Gahnt's Latest CD

Available for purchase on CDBaby


Ella Gahnt is an exquisite and powerful, Philly-based Jazz vocalist and a burgeoning songwriter. She has wowed audiences at most of the area's major venues including Kimmel Center, West Oak Lane Jazz Festival, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts, and Summer Jazz Festival hosted by The Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation in Atlantic City, NJ.


Ella Gahnt has also performed in a number of PJP's major events, including, Frosty, The PhillyCAM Television Sessions, Lush Life: Philadelphia Celebrates Billy Strayhorn, The Block Party Concert At The Dell Music Center, The Philadelphia Songbook Volume One Concert and is a member of the PJP inspired women's musical collective, DivaNation. In 2016, Ella Gahnt released a new CD project called, "Third Stage of Elegance."


PJP spoke with vocalist Ella Gahnt about this new CD project and her musical approach.


PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction?


Ella Gahnt: I’ve been influenced by many singers – practically every one I’ve heard, but I have always leaned toward the music of Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter and  Billie Holiday. Those singers paved the way and created such an amazing vocal legacy. Even though my current musical direction tends to be driven based on the gigs I get, I’m planning to expand beyond our area and do performances across the country. I’m also planning to add vocal workshops so I can share tips with other jazz singers on how to communicate with a band. I hope to add these vocal workshops to my travels by offering them at various venues, possibly schools with a Jazz focus. And I want to record another CD that includes some originals and a few of the Jazz standards I’ve recently become more passionate about.


Ella Gahnt Images 1


PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?


Ella Gahnt: The songs that I’ve written over these years were influenced mostly by my spiritual growth, the change in my environment, and particularly my relationship with my husband, Leon Mitchell. Leon’s experience and advice – musically and spiritually – has guided me through most of my frustrations as I was trying to get started in music and Jazz in particular, trying to figure out my musical and spiritual direction, and trying to adjust to the effect the change in the neighborhood had on me. I tried to pour all that I heard and saw and felt into my songs, and I hope it translated into something folks can relate to and enjoy.


PJP: Tell us about your most recent CD project??


Ella Gahnt:Third Stage of Elegance” is my third CD, but it feels like my first because it’s an entire CD of originals – Songs I wrote, songs I wrote with Leon, songs Leon wrote, and a song I wrote with a wonderful pianist named Carol Frazier. I feel like I’ve grown quite a bit musically and spiritually over the years, and now I get to establish a musical identity that’s a bit different from the one where I sing my version of established standards that folks have heard before.


This CD was very important to me because even though we’ve written some of these songs years ago, we felt like they were great songs that still had relevance today and really needed to be heard. I get to tell my own stories for the first time from my point of view – songs that have touched me in a special way and made me want to share them beyond our music room at home. I chose songs that were written as I glided from different stages of my love experiences, my life experiences, and my spiritual growth and, hopefully, the songs share a common ground with folks as they listen to them.


Ella Gahnt Images-3


PJP: Who performs on this project with you?


Ella Gahnt: I was extremely blessed to work with some of the guys that I perform with when we do our live shows. I got Adam Faulk on piano, Lee Smith on bass, Harry “Butch” Reed on drums. I was also fortunate to get Aaron Graves to play on two duets. These guys took such good care of me during the recording sessions! I was amazed how well they interpreted my charts and gave me more than I could have asked for. So I couldn’t be happier with what everyone contributed to the project.


PJP: You wrote and/or co/wrote some beautiful songs on this one, can you describe your process?


Ella Gahnt: Thanks a lot! There was a period of time when I wasn’t working a full-time job, I was home and I had access to our electronic music equipment that I had to learn how to operate while Leon was running the offset printing business. I was getting over the “loss” of our musical group that had disbanded and I was on my own spiritual journey learning about myself and also settling into the idea that I wanted to sing Jazz which had always been my passion. So a few of these songs came out of all that emotion and learning. Most of the time, the story came first and then I came up with music to go with it. But sometimes the music and the story came out together. It’s funny how I felt like some of the songs had a life of their own – I just happened to be the conduit for the song to come through.


PJP: When listening to your music what advice would you give the audience to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment?


Ella Gahnt: I would say to the audience to find a nice peaceful spot with whatever you enjoy at your side, and open your mind to the music as it creates the pictures you see in your minds eye. I think my stories are clear and insightful, and I think our songs will find a common ground with everyone’s travels.


Ella Gahnt Images 2


PJP: If folks want to find out more about your CD, or to purchase it, how might they do that?


Ella Gahnt: I always have my CDs when we’re out catching other artists at concerts around town, as well as my own concerts, and my CDs are also available on CDBaby. You can always purchase them there.


PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?


Ella Gahnt: I always like to say Jazz chose me as opposed to my choosing Jazz. I sang R&B years ago with other groups as well as our own group that we had together for a time, but I sing Jazz because it’s the music I’m best at. It’s the music that more defines my style than anything else I’ve sung, it’s also the music that makes me the happiest and allows me to tell clear stories when I sing. I believe that’s my most important job as a singer – to tell a great musical story that folks can feel and relate to….and hopefully remember how I told it.


Third Stage of Elegance

Ella Gahnt's Latest CD

Available for purchase on CDBaby


Photography: Bruce Turner & Alexis Simmons


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the CultureWorks | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Wyncote Foundation


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Tags : EllaGahnt JazzVocalist Singer NewCD PhillyJazz ThirdStageofElegance LeonMitchell DivaNation KimmelCenter WestOakLaneJazzFestival PhiladelphiaMuseumofArt PhiladelphiaClefClubofJazz&PerformingArts SummerJazzFestival ChickenBoneBeachHistoricalFoundation Frosty PhillyCAMSessions SarahVaughan CarmenMcRae EllaFitzgerald BettyCarter BillieHoliday AdamFaulk LeeSmith Harry“Butch”Reed AaronGraves CarolFrazier


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.