Joan Ellison has been praised for her "vocal prowess....[and] organic grasp of the classic songs" by Michael Feinstein, and described as bringing “a keen blend of vocal splendor and verbal crispness to every musical moment” and “possess[ing] a crystalline voice that never stops” (Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer).
To kick off the 2016-’17 season, Ellison made her NYC solo cabaret debut at Feinstein’s/54 Below in Get Happy! Judy Garland 1944-’54, of which Cabaret Scenes Magazine wrote: “New York deserves to see and hear more of Joan Ellison.” July brought a reprise of the show at BLU Jazz+ in Akron. Other season highlights include a Sinatra & Garland Celebration with the Bemus Bay Pops Orchestra (NY) in September,Get Happy! at Nighttown in November, a “Swingin’ Holiday” pops concert with the Canton Symphony in December, “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance” featuring Judy Garland songs with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra in January 2017, and an all-Garland concert with the Ohio Valley Symphony in March 2017.
Last season found her playing the role of "Judy Garland" in The Boy from Oz at TheatreZone in Naples, Florida and performing her theatre piece, Love Finds Judy Garland. In July 2015, Ellison released a critically-acclaimed new album,“Retrophonic Gershwin,” featuring her arrangements based on original recordings of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. Recorded at Oberlin's Clonick Hall and mixed and mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Robert Friedrich, it also features singer Mark Flanders and duo-pianists.
Ellison made her Cleveland Pops Orchestra debut at Severance Hall in 2005 and has since sung more than 30 symphonic pops concerts in repertoire ranging from American popular song to The King & I to Wicked. Recent past performances have included “Judy Garland in Hollywood” with the Wheaton Symphony and conductor Kevin McMahon, “Songwriting Giants of Broadway” and numerous summer concerts with the Cleveland Pops with conductor Carl Topilow and guest conductor Jason Seber,“The Music of Richard Rodgers” with the Erie Philharmonic; and a return engagement with the Erie Philharmonic and conductor Daniel Meyer for their Holiday Pops concerts. In addition to touring with the cabaret shows she co-created, Get Happy!, Love Finds Judy Garland, and Gershwin On the Air, theatrical roles includeJulie in Carousel, Nellie in South Pacific, Lizzie in 110 in the Shade, and Eliza in My Fair Lady (in concert).
She earned M.M.T. and B.Mus. (voice performance) degrees from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Daune Mahy. Further studies in popular vocal styles were with Leon Thurman, and piano study with Robert McDonald and Sharyl Smith. In addition to her work at CIM, Ellison is the Singing Teacher for the CWRU/Cleveland Play House M.F.A. Acting Program. Ms. Ellison’s graduates have performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in London’s West End, in national touring companies, in film and television, and with regional theatres, and can be heard on solo albums in pop, rock, folk, and country genres, as well as Broadway original cast albums. Past teaching appointments include the Oberlin and Baldwin Wallace Conservatories. www.joanellison.com
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