Kellylee Evans' interest in jazz was accidental. Lost on the campus of Ottawa's Carleton University, where she studied law and English, she mistakenly reached the music department and fell for what she heard. A vocalist who crosses between jazz and mature retro-R&B, her career received a push in 2004 when she finished second in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition, judged by the likes of Quincy Jones, Flora Purim, and Al Jarreau. She debuted independently in 2006 with Fight or Flight, which was nominated for a Juno Award and followed the next year by a live version. Nina, a pared-down tribute to Nina Simone, as well as The Good Girl, were released in 2010. The former won a Juno Award in the category of Best Vocal Jazz Album.
Universal France issued her fourth proper album, I Remember When, in 2013. The set featured covers of John Legend's "Ordinary People" and Kanye West's "Amazing," as well as "My Name Is," a song inspired by Eminem and classic soul. Following the album's release, Evans was struck by lightning while doing dishes in her Ottawa home. Over the next two years, she struggled through recovery, suffering headaches and heart palpitations.
She was well enough in 2015 to release the romantic, classic soul-influenced album Come On. However, a subsequent fall and head injury due to lingering effects of the lightning strike led to cancellation of a tour, and yet more recovery time. After the fall, fellow performer Amanda Martinez launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to help raise money to aid in Evans' living expenses, ultimately generating over $43,000. By 2017, Evans had recovered enough to return to singing, performing the Canadian National Anthem at the Juno Cup hockey game, and taking on an artist-in-residence position at her alma mater, Carleton University. ~ Andy Kellman