Joan Ellison

Joan Ellison has been praised for her “vocal prowess….[and] organic grasp of the classic songs” by Michael Feinstein, and has made a specialty of reviving Judy Garland’s repertoire from the golden Hollywood years to her Carnegie Hall concert and television show, including restoring Ms. Garland’s glorious original orchestrations. Of her NYC solo cabaret show at Feinstein’s/54 Below, Cabaret Scenes Magazine wrote: “[Joan is] Judyesque in appearance and…a near voice double for her idol.” Recent concert highlights include a song-for-song recreation of Garland’s 1961 Carnegie Hall concert hosted by Judy’s daughter, Lorna Luft, and conducted by Michael Berkowitz (Liza Minnelli’s conductor/drummer), with Joan and Broadway divas Debbie Gravitte and Karen Mason; “Get Happy! A Judy Garland Celebration” with the Toledo, Jacksonville, New Haven, Springfield (OH), Punta Gorda, Southwest (IL), Paducah, Bartlesville, and Portland Symphonies, The Pops Orchestra of Bradenton and Sarasota, and the Cleveland Pops; and Holiday Pops appearances with the Erie Philharmonic, Augusta Symphony, and Cleveland Pops. Her trio concert celebrating the Garland Centennial, Love Finds Judy Garland, (with Joan, pianist Shane Schag, and cellist Nora Willauer), has been touring the U.S., with performances at theaters in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maine. A new symphony pops concert, It’s Magic! Joan Ellison Swings in High Fidelity, will debut in late summer of 2023.

In 2016, Joan embarked on a mission to restore Judy Garland’s original orchestrations. At Michael Feinstein’s invitation she serves as Editor of the Judy Garland Carnegie Hall Concert Restoration Project for the Judy Garland Heirs Trust. Recently, Joan was given the privilege of restoring the newly-rediscovered MGM film arrangement of “Over the Rainbow.” Joan made her Cleveland Pops Orchestra debut at Severance Hall in 2005 and has since sung more than 60 concerts coast-to-coast with the Santa Rosa Pops, Evansville Philharmonic, Erie Philharmonic, Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, National Repertory Orchestra, Wheaton Pops, Canton Symphony, Ashland Symphony, Enid Symphony, Bemus Bay Pops, Tuscarawas Philharmonic, Lakeside Symphony, Ohio Valley Symphony, and Whiting Park Festival Orchestra. In 2016, she played the role of Ms. Garland in the first U.S. professional regional production of The Boy From Oz.

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 including Julie in Carousel, Nellie in South Pacific, Lizzie in 110 in the Shade, and Eliza in My Fair Lady (in concert). Her critically-acclaimed second album, “Retrophonic Gershwin” (2015), was recorded at Oberlin’s Clonick Hall and mixed and mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Robert Friedrich. She earned an M.M.T. and a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice from Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Early musical highlights while growing up in Iowa included playing Flora in The Turn of the Screw with the Des Moines Metro Opera, opposite Lauren Flanigan, and singing for Liza Minnelli when she came to town.

She also serves as Teacher of Popular Voice at The Cleveland Institute of Music and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association. sold-out performances in Florida of her one-woman theatre piece, All Happiness, Judy Garland, and the concert A Tribute to Judy and Liza at the Palladium; and a concert for the annual Judy Garland Festival in Judy’s birthplace of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

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