Joan Ellison has been praised for her “vocal prowess…[and] organic grasp of the classic songs” by Michael Feinstein, and U.K. critic Piers Ford says, “[She] doesn’t just blow oﬀ the dust — she gets inside the raw material and inhabits it.”
Her long-time immersion in the popular vocal styles of the 1920s to the 1960s includes transcribing over 250 piano and vocal arrangements note-for-note from classic recordings and copying/restoring missing pieces on several of Judy Garland’s original orchestrations. This intimate understanding of vintage musical and vocal styles brings distinct freshness and authenticity to her interpretations of classic American standards.
To kick oﬀ the 2016-’17 season, Joan 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.” Other season highlights include a Sinatra & Garland Celebration with the Bemus Bay Pops (NY), “A Swingin’ Holiday” with the Canton Symphony, “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance” featuring Judy Garland songs with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, “A Symphony Soiree” with the Enid Symphony (OK), and an all-Garland concert with the Ohio Valley Symphony, as well as reprises of her cabaret show at Nighttown, The Bop Stop, and BLUJazz. Her new one-woman theatrical piece, All Happiness, Judy Garland, premieres at the Winter Park Playhouse (FL) in June.
The winter 2016 TheatreZone (Naples, Florida) production of The Boy From Oz marked the first time Joan had ever actually played Judy Garland. In 2015, she released a critically-acclaimed 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.
Joan 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 classic American popular song to The King & I to Wicked. In addition to touring the country with the cabaret shows she co-created, Love Finds Judy Garland and Gershwin On the Air, Joan has played classic leading-lady roles in regional theatre, including Julie in Carousel, Nellie in South Pacific, Lizzie in 110 in the Shade, Eliza in My Fair Lady (in concert), and Claudia in Nine. In 2010, Joan released a debut album, “A Date With Judy! Joan Ellison Sings Judy Garland.”
She earned an M.M.T. and a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and currently serves as Teacher of Popular Voice at The Cleveland Institute of Music and a Visiting Guest Artist (singing teacher) with the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House M.F.A. Acting Program. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association.