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Voices Of The People - Ella Ganht

Ella GahntVoices Of The People: Celebration of Singers
July 6, 7, 8, 2017
Hatfield House
33rd & Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130  


The Philadelphia Jazz Project continues as we carry the spirit of Philadelphia into the second weekend of July 2017. In collaboration with Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Parks On Tap and Jazz Near You, The Philadelphia Jazz Project presents: Voices Of The People: Celebration of Singers; a three-day, vocal festival featuring over a dozen of Philly's finest vocal talents, including Barbara Montgomery, Rhenda Fearrington, Ella Gahnt, Lili Anel and Raimundo Santos.


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," which contains all originals written by Ella, Leon Mitchell, and a cut shared with songwriter-pianist Carol Frazier.


PJP spoke with Ella Gahnt about her work and the Voices of the People Celebration.

PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction?


Ella Ganht GoldenElla Gahnt: 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.


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: Philadelphia has an enormous pool of talented musicians, what’s it like to be selected for the Voices Of The People: Celebration Of Singers?


Ella Gahnt: I’m very familiar with a lot of the vocal talent in Philly, many of whom are my friends. So when PJP could have chosen anyone from such an incredible group of singers, I can’t help but feel honored to have been chosen to be part of this project. I don’t recall if any organization has ever done an event that’s specifically geared toward the voice and all that it entails, so I feel like I’m part of what will be a trail-blazing experience.


PJP: Why is this event important?


VOTPElla Gahnt: I don’t believe any other organization has presented an event that focuses entirely on the voice of the people from a singer’s point of view. The singer is the storyteller of a song, so every singer in these performances will get to tell stories from their unique perspective. Just the thought of that concept is very exciting to me, and I can’t wait to witness it in person. And the fact that I’m a part of it is just delicious sweet icing.


PJP: What are you going to present at Voices Of The People?


Ella Gahnt: I’m part of the group that will focus on “Interdependence.” There are so many approaches I can take to express how we reach into our well of inner strength to make our way through life. I’m having difficulty trying to narrow down my song choices. So I’ll probably do a couple of my original compositions from my latest CD “Third Stage of Elegance” as well as a couple other Jazz standards that inspire me to be courageous.


PJP: How do you manage the task of creating and encouraging fresh, new, forwarding moving musical ideas while simultaneously exploring, celebrating and documenting the past?


Ella Gahnt: I try to start with what grabs at me and makes me think and feel. After you’ve had life hit you upside the head a few times as I have, you’re bound to complain about the pain you felt. So I put that into my lyrics and melodies. Some of the great Jazz standards of the past that continue to haunt me are what made me want to sing Jazz in the first place, so I always include these songs when I sing – I’m still discovering more of those great songs – there are so many!


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.

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 think over the years 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, Billie Holiday, those singers paved the way and created such an amazing vocal legacy. 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.


All Concerts July 6-8, 2017, will be held at Hatfield House, 33rd & Girard Avenue.  

Friday, July 7 at 7:00 PM / INTERDEPENDENCE

Interdependence Banner
Featuring Annie Sciolla, Ella Gahnt, Milton Suggs with Music Director: Mike Boone


Voices Of The People: Celebration of Singers
July 6, 7, 8, 2017
Hatfield House
33rd & Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130  


Admission Is FREE! However, Registration Is Mandatory  Register Here!!

Be sure to bring your lawn chairs, blankets and a thirst for awesome singers.




There is no formal parking lot. However, there is "some" street parking available. We urge everyone to use public transportation, or for drivers, to give themselves plenty of time to find adequate parking.



Two SEPTA Transportation Routes will get you to the Hatfield House.

  • Route 15 | Traveling along-Girard Avenue
  • Route 7 | Travels on 33rd Street

There are other routes to get to 33rd & Girard as well.
Check at the SEPTA website for more info: SEPTA


Admission Is FREE! However, Registration Is Mandatory  Register Here!!

Be sure to bring your lawn chairs, blankets and a thirst for awesome singers.



Jazz Near You, Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and PhillyCAM


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Philadelphia Jazz Project (PJP) supports, promotes, archives and celebrates the diverse elements within the Philadelphia Jazz community, with the larger goal of connecting to the global community


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