||Lynn has played and/or
toured with Diana Ross, Rita Coolidge, Michelle Shocked, The Original Fifth Dimension and Nell Carter, and other known artists. See the complete list in Lynn's
I was born in the extraordinarily windy city of Chicago. During my 2nd
year, I moved with my forward thinking parents to the suburb of Niles,
Illinois where I lived for most of my life. Along with my father Jerry,
my mother Marilyn and my brother Irwin, we proceeded to grow a million
memories there. Mom is still in the same house I grew up in. Unlike most
folks that moved West, I still love the snow!
Flute and I
As a young child I began studying piano for which I continued lessons
throughout my high school years. In junior high school I was asked to
choose an instrument for which I wanted to play in the high school band.
Since there was no piano in the band I had to come up with another option.
I looked on the shelf where my Dad kept his instruments and noticed that
he had an extra flute. This was it, my new instrument! I practiced diligently
and played in the East Maine Jr. High School band. Freshman Year at Maine
East High School (yes, the same school that Hillary Clinton and Harrison
Ford attended) found me spending all my time in the music department.
I studied flute with a wonderful teacher named Jimmy Wolf. He was one
of those teachers that you could always remember by the smell of his aftershave,
his warm smile and the great amount of encouragement that was forever
imprinted upon me. Jimmy eventually suggested I study with Kathleen Goll
who, at the time, played flute for the Chicago Lyric Symphony. I was a
diligent student and eventually won a number of scholarships and awards
as a flutist and even had the rare opportunity to be the guest soloist
with a local symphony.
My New Love - Bass
I attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, IL for two
years as a flute performance major. I became very discouraged by the music
department and the flute professor I was studying with. Although I learned
a lot and had some wonderful teachers, I decided to stretch my wings.
During those years I discovered something that I preferred to playing
flute; I preferred playing electric bass. I began playing with dear friends
Kristin Lems and Cherry Wolfarth in a band called Ms. Conception. Kristin
had a friend at the time who was a guitar player and owned a million basses
as well. Each rehearsal he’d bring me a bass until I found one that
suited me. Yes, the Gibson EB-3 ended up becoming my new voice. One of
the first songs I ever played on bass was “For What it’s Worth.”
Believe me, when I played it many years later on a gig with its composer
Stephen Stills, I couldn’t have been more touched!
I moved to Austin, Texas in November of 1976. Ok, maybe it appeared it
was only for love, but I had heard that Austin was a music town and I
thought it would be a great place for me to learn to become a real bass
player. I spent the next 11 years doing just that. The first band I played
with in Austin was called “Jubilee”. We were a group of women
playing music that made a political statement. But even more than that,
we were a family and made all our decisions as a collective. To this day
there are still fans that would love a reunion.
In 1978 I began working with a country artist named Jess Demaine. For
the two years that I played with Jess, we toured every country dancehall
in the state of Texas. I learned to twostep, I learned the Cotton Eyed
Joe and got to work with some of the most wonderful musicians. Jess to
this day remains one of the most gifted vocalists I’ve worked with.
1980/81, I received a call asking me if I’d be interested in going
on the road with the circus. All jokes aside, it was an interesting opportunity.
Of course my parents weren’t too happy about it, but as most young
adults do, I decided to do what my parents said not to! I was the only
woman in an 8 piece band. I toured with Circus Vargas for 8 months on
the road before deciding to go back to school. I had a tiny little trailer
that I lived in – I fondly called it “The Egg” because
it looked like one. On a drive to the next location, the trailer’s
outer wall disconnected and rested on the tire causing the entire trailer
to catch fire. I jumped inside, grabbed my belongings and said goodbye
to the egg which we left on the side of the road somewhere in Arizona.
My Days in Texas
1981-’84 - I attended the University of Texas at Austin. I was blessed
to study with some amazing teachers such as Rick Lawn who was the head
of the UT Jazz Orchestra and founding director of the Jazz Studies School
at UT. I was the bassist for the UT Jazz Orchestra who performed with
such greats as Mel Torme, Randy Brecker, Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin.
At that point in time electric bass was not a recognized major instrument
so I had to go back to my roots. After taking 6 years off as a flute player
it was a huge effort to get back on track, but I did. I studied with a
brilliant flautist named Torkil Bye who was principal flute in the Oslo
Symphony Orchestra. If I had met Torkil Bye during my earlier college
years as a flute major I would never have chosen to become a bass player
at all. He was a most inspiring player and teacher. In 1984 I received
my Bachelor of Music in Theory/Composition from the University of Texas
at Austin. I also played 6 nights a week during all my school years there.
I played with the Donna Menthol Band for years. Donna is a kindred spirit
and a special, dear friend. She is a gifted vocalist and teacher. I also
played for years with the Kelly Gray Band, Eloise Burrell band, The Little
Big Band – just to name a few. During this time I also met and became
friends with one of my bass mentors, Roscoe Beck. I would go listen to
Roscoe all the time with his band Passenger. My years in Texas were fruitful
and have left me with a wealth of amazing memories.
moved to Los Angeles in 1986 after touring with Oleta Adams out of Kansas
City. Her work had ended and I decided it was time to try the West Coast.
I worked hard to begin a new life. I started playing on Monday nights
at Carlos and Charlies on Sunset Blvd. Jim Vukovich was the music director
for the cabaret nights there and I was hired to play bass. Many of the
people I met back in 1987 are the people I still work with today. Jim
called me to play bass for Freda Payne in Japan in 1988. This was the
beginning of a sequence of opportunities that allowed me to
be in the right place at the right time. I was hired to play the reunion
tour of the Original Fifth Dimension. After that was a tour with Michelle
Shocked. I met Rita Coolidge in 1991 playing in the house band for the
Phillips Pro Celebrity Classic in Bentonville, Arkansas. She asked for
my number and I received a call a couple of months later by her publicist
to see if I could play a gig for her in Petaluma, California that August.
She and I have worked together ever since. In 1995 I worked as music director
for Nell Carter. I auditioned for Diana Ross in 1990 and was hired in
1993. I still work with Diana Ross.
From Present to Future
I’m currently heard on many demos, CD’s, and live gigs of
all types. The past couple of years have allowed me to venture into the
world of musical theatre which as been very interesting, challenging and
lots of fun. I played in a production of Smokey Joes Café in 2001-02,
Grease in 2002 and Fame in 2003.
The future holds many opportunities which I look forward to experiencing.
Music is the ultimate healing power for me and for many others as well.
To be blessed to do what you love in life is a gift. I always talk about
being a daughter of good fortune – but it’s really true, and
- Lynn Keller