Julia Keefe, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe, has been a professional jazz vocalist and actor for over a decade, performing all over the US and Europe, and opening for legendary performers like Esperanza Spalding and Tony Bennett. She will make her big screen debut in the upcoming feature film, Virginia, Minnesota, which will be coming to theaters this summer.
Julia was born in Seattle, WA, and spent her early years on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in Idaho. She graduated with honors from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, earning her Bachelor’s in Music. After spending time in Paris and Los Angeles, Julia returned to Washington State to teach jazz voice at Gonzaga University. She also worked on the communications team of a federal consulting firm called Kauffman & Associates, specializing in social media and outreach.
While in Spokane, Julia helped to create One Heart Native Arts & Film Festival, a two-day celebration of contemporary indigenous stories from indigenous perspectives. She is now on the board of One Heart. She will be continuing her education and pursuing her masters at Manhattan School of Music this fall.
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A Sort of homecoming
February 23, 2017
Julia Keefe admits to being a “jazz nerd” from an early age, listening as a toddler and falling in love with Billie Holiday, “which is weird for a 4-year-old to love.” Even so, that sound stuck with her as she sang her way through childhood, and she joined the jazz choir at Spokane’s St. George’s School. The choir made its way to the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho, a trip with serious long-term repercussions for Keefe, now a renowned vocalist who’s performed in Paris, New York and elsewhere.
Spokane jazz singer Julia Keefe ready to showcase her skills at Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival
February 23, 2017
Julia Keefe caught the jazz bug grooving on Billie Holiday – as a toddler. I know. Weird, huh? But Keefe, now a seasoned professional jazz singer, swears it’s true. Her mom, she explained, put on that first Billie CD and the music, for reasons unknown, burrowed deep into her young brain and took root.
Tribute concert set for Mildred Bailey
April 28, 2014
COEUR d’ALENE – The North Idaho College Music Department and Cardinal Connections will present “khwe ‘enkwinm, khwe te’l spu’ss ‘alaqhwp’t sinm” (When she sings, it pours from her heart), a tribute to Mildred Bailey, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Boswell Hall Schuler Performing Arts Center. This concert, featuring the NIC Jazz Ensemble, Cardinal Vocal Jazz and special guest singer Julia Keefe, is free to the public.
'Be better than you were yesterday:' Jazz singer/actress Julia Keefe comes full circle when she returns to Kamiah Saturday
February 05, 2014
Perhaps the most important thing to know about the path from a childhood in Kamiah to a stage in Los Angeles is that it exists. And Julia Keefe found it. Keefe spent six of her grade-school years in Kamiah. She and her family later moved to Spokane, where she began singing jazz. She got a degree in vocal jazz performance in 2012 and has since performed in jazz clubs from Paris to her current home in L.A.
Julia Keefe shines
July 31, 2012
When the exhibit Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians In Popular Culture was conceptualized there were two main messages we wanted to convey. The first is that American Indians have been and remain significant participants in the development of contemporary music, shaping and scoring (in some cases literally) the soundtracks of our lives.
Search for Jazz singer's roots brings together two Julias
May 02, 2012
Julia Keefe, aspiring young singer from Spokane, pursues the true history of jazz singer Mildred Bailey and aims to revive appreciation of her style and contribution to the world of jazz music. Learn more in this insightful story from National Public Radio.
Jazz vocalist Julia Keefe "Just likes to sing"
April 19, 2012
“I just like to sing,” Julia Keefe says. “Whatever the tune is I like to sing it.”
Julia Keefe has been singing and entertaining audiences since she was six years old. Now 23, and graduating from college this May, she’s already amassed a wealth of experience performing on stage and has a background that is sure to carry her far in the music world.
Channeling Mildred Bailey
March 23, 2011
When Bing Crosby looked back on his meteoric rise to becoming America’s most popular singer, in his autobiography Call Me Lucky, he recalled, “I was lucky in knowing the great jazz and blues singer Mildred Bailey so early in life. She made records which are still vocal classics and she taught me much about singing and interpreting popular songs.”
Artist puts her spin on songs of native Jazz pioneer
May 26, 2009
Julia Keefe, a young jazz singer from the Nez Perce Tribe, is among those reviving Mildred Bailey’s repertoire. On April 11, Keefe debuted a program titled “Thoroughly Modern: Mildred Bailey Songs” in a performance at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. The Rasmuson Theater was standing-room-only when Keefe and the Jerrol Pennerman Octet took the stage.
Julia Keefe's Jazz
April 08, 2009
Nez Perce jazz singer Julia Keefe was in high school when she first became acquainted with the music of swing-era vocalist Mildred Bailey (Coeur d’Alene). Today, at age 19, Keefe has developed a musical tribute to Bailey that will be performed at the National Museum of the American Indian on Saturday, April 11.
Smithsonian tribute honors Mildred Bailey
January 25, 2009
Are we seeing a Mildred Bailey revival?
First, a four-CD box set of her career, “Mildred Bailey: Sunday, Monday or Always,” is out on the Quadromania label.
Also, word comes from Washington, D.C., that local jazz singer Julia Keefe has been booked to perform a tribute concert, “Thoroughly Modern: Mildred Bailey Songs,” at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on April 11.