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Local Soprano Cuts CD

Potomac singer received her first fame at St. Francis Episcopal Church.

Hailing from New Mexico, Potomac resident Julie Keim is a jazz singer with a classical singer’s penchant for melodically based music. Her new CD is titled "Only Yesterday" and is available at Tower Records and on the Web site CD Baby. Com. It will also soon be available at her Web site, Juliekeim.com.

The Potomac-based singer studied at Trinity University and Southern Methodist University and received her diploma at Temple University in Philadelphia .

A musician since the age of 9, she is a frequent performer at St. Francis Episcopal church in Potomac, where she first gained local recognition. "People liked my performance," she said. Since then, she has brought her voice to the National Cathedral, where she sang the role of solo soprano in Handel’s "Messiah." That appearance led to an invitation to sing before President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush at the White House on National Prayer Day, where she sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" a capella. She has also sung at the Kennedy Center.

In recalling her performances, she said, "Things are memorable for different reasons." Singing at the National Cathedral is at once disconcerting and inspirational.

Of the acoustics, she said, "You can hear yourself singing. Sound comes back to you."

ALWAYS EAGER TO PERFORM, she has sung at parties in private homes. Her music has received air play on WETA, and she is scheduled to sing with the National Philharmonic at Strathmore Hall Arts Center in Rockville, Md., this autumn, when she is scheduled to sing in "Carmina Burana," an oratorio comprising songs of love and strength. "It requires the soprano to sing "dulcissime, dulcessime," the sweetest of the sweetest. It is the rare soprano who can sing this well," said Stan Engbretson, conductor of the National Philharmonic.

Her stab at singing jazz standards from the 1930s and 1940s is a return to the musical territory of childhood, when she listened to her grandmother, a fan of 1930s era movies and an amateur pianist, playing during dinner parties.

She attributes the blossoming of her jazz singing career to her partnership with pianist Eli Staples, a Potomac-area resident. "I don’t change the way that I play to accommodate her lack of experience with jazz because she is able to react to what I do," said Staples.

Trumpet player Chris Gekker, who teaches at the University of Maryland , and bassist Glenn Dewey also play with her.

Keim feels that Washington is a great city for music. "I haven’t lived in any place besides New York that has as many arts organizations, " she said, adding that Potomac is a supportive place to perform.

"I am my own agent," she said. She is planning to record a CD of art songs and aspires to sing the title role in Poulenc’s large chorus and orchestra oratorio with one soprano, "Gloria."

"Julie is an artist who not only comes to her artistry with undeniable talent, she also comes to her art with undeniable compassion. She communicates her artistic soul to the audience," said Engbretson.