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Alumni in Focus: Chelsea Lee Smart

Chelsea Lee Smart, jazz vocalist, composer and graduate of Elder Conservatorium of Music Jazz Honours degree, is this month’s Alumni in Focus. Chelsea is the only Australian who has ever been selected to participate in the prestigious ‘Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead’ residency in Washington, D.C.

Chelsea was awarded the Helpmann Academy Foundation Award for Top Jazz Voice Undergraduate of 2015 and the Mike Steward Memorial Award. She has studied with saxophonist Will Vinson and Boston vocalist Dominique Eade in New York and has performed alongside James Morrison.

What are your hobbies?
My hobbies include writing, playing and listening to music, drawing, and reading classic literature and poetry.

Favourite place to eat when in Adelaide?
My favourite place to eat in Adelaide would be Karma and Crow in the western suburbs.

If I could go back to my university days I would…
Spend every hour possible in the available practice rooms.

Most prized possession?
My instruments, definitely!

I can’t get enough of…
Bill Frisell’s music.

Something that makes you smile?
British comedy.

Something you are grateful for?
My incredible friends that I can make music with.

If I could pursue a different career I would…
Probably be a visual artist, however I have always been intrigued by science and archaeology.

The most valuable lesson I have learned…
Is no matter how many lows you experience, just to keep going and expand your learning.

I cannot get through the day without…
Listening to my favourite record at that current time. At the moment it is Bill Frisell with Elvin Jones and Dave Holland.

Three words your friends would use to describe you…
Supportive, humorous and creative.

Your definition of success?
Being happy.

My mother taught me…
To always work hard and strive to be my best self each day.

Biggest career highlight?
So far, my biggest career highlight would be recording my original album with one of my musical heroes, NYC saxophonist Will Vinson.

2018 is the year that I…
Took charge of my career by working in New York and building up strength and independence as a jazz vocalist and composer.

How do you relax?
I simply love spending time with friends and a beer.

When I get home, the first thing I do is…
Put on my favourite records.

The biggest risk I have taken…
Is being a full-time musician.

What is a misconception about you?
That I’m consistently strong. Some of my best days and music comes from being at my most vulnerable.

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