Grace Leong was born in Sabah, Malaysia. Leong found her growing desire to pursue jazz seriously after performing Indie/Pop Rock music in hotels, on cruises, and other venues around Asia, including Macau, Singapore, and Thailand for five years. Despite her unconventional background, she applied for West Virginia University and to God’s grace, given a full scholarship from WVU and awarded Graduate Assistantship at University of Iowa for her Masters in Jazz Studies.
During her stay in the United States, Leong actively performed as a leader and sideman in various ensembles and settings. Leong performed alongside Orquesta Alto Maiz, Parranderos Latin Combo, Wycliffe Gordon, the Des Moines Big Band, Rod Pierson’s ‘Not So Big’ Band, Local on the 8’s band and Duology. She had received numerous invitations to perform in West Virginia Wine and Jazz Festival (2013), followed by annual jazz festivals in Iowa (2014 and 2015). She had, likewise, won 1st runner up for WVU Keyboard Festival College Jazz Category and the WVU Young Artist Competition in 2013.
As a recording artist, composer and leader, Leong’s released her debut CD “Moving Forward” in July 2015, features her original compositions. She also recorded with upcoming jazz saxophonist Jeff Miguel on his “Perseverance” CD release in May 2015 and with Johnson County Landmark Big Band Crescendo in 2014. Leong had also composed, arranged and recorded an album “Tap” for a dance education project from Leap and Learn.
As a musician, connecting with the audience is a vital part of her musical philosophy. Not surprisingly, she savors every opportunity she has to educate and share her love for music, and the pedagogical exploration of jazz continues to be one of the highlights of her music career.