Joan Ellison has been praised for her "vocal prowess....[and] organic grasp of the classic songs" by Michael Feinstein. She has made a specialty of reviving Judy Garland’s repertoire from the golden Hollywood years to her Carnegie Hall concert and television show, restoring Ms. Garland’s glorious original orchestrations (courtesy of the Judy Garland Heirs Trust). Joan’s 2016 NYC solo cabaret debut prompted Cabaret Scenes Magazine to describe her as “Judy-esque in appearance and…a near voice double for her idol.”
Joan’s long-time immersion in the popular vocal styles of the 1920s to the 1960s includes transcribing over 250 arrangements note-for-note from classic recordings. This intimate understanding of vintage musical and vocal styles brings distinct freshness and authenticity to her interpretations of classic American standards. She was recently invited by Michael Feinstein to serve as Editor of the Judy Garland Carnegie Hall Concert Restoration Project for the Judy Garland Heirs Trust.
To kick off the 2017-’18 season, her new one-woman theatre piece, All Happiness, Judy Garland, premiered to a sold-out audience at The Winter Park Playhouse (FL). Season highlights include Garland tunes with the National Repertory Orchestra (CO), “Retrophonic Christmas” with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra at Playhouse Square’s Palace Theatre, “Get Happy! A Judy Garland Celebration” with the Enid Symphony Orchestra (OK), and performances of All Happiness, Judy Garland for the Holland Theatre and the Chagrin Arts Performing Arts Series.
Last season, Joan made her NYC solo cabaret debut at Feinstein’s/54 Below in Get Happy! Judy Garland 1944-’54, with encores at BLU Jazz, The Bop Stop, and Nighttown. Other performances included a “Sinatra & Garland Celebration” with the Bemus Bay Pops Orchestra (NY), a “Swingin’ Holiday” concert with the Canton Symphony, “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance” featuring Judy Garland songs with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra at Severance Hall, and an all-Garland concert with the Ohio Valley Symphony. January-February 2016 found her playing the role of Ms. Garland in the first U.S. professional regional production of The Boy From Oz at TheatreZone in Naples, FL.
In July 2015, Joan released a critically-acclaimed second 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 concerts with the Pops, Erie Philharmonic, Wheaton Pops, Enid Symphony, Canton Symphony, Bemus Bay Pops, Tuscarawas Philharmonic, Lakeside Symphony, Ohio Valley Symphony, and others in repertoire ranging from The King & I to Wicked. In addition to touring the country with 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 her 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. She currently serves as Teacher of Popular Voice at The Cleveland Institute of Music and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association. www.joanellison.com