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Kelly Wallis
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Kelly Wallis

Adjunct Associate Professor, Jazz Percussion

BM University of Utah

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Kelly Wallis is an extremely experienced and versatile performer in the Salt Lake and Intermountain Region having received a Bachelor of Music degree in percussion performance from the University of Utah under the tutelage of percussionist Douglas J. Wolf and composer Henry Wolking. Upon graduation from the U of U, Kelly went on to be regarded as a “first call” drummer percussionist in Salt Lake’s musical community. He continued his private studies with such notables as Ed Soph, Walfredo De Los Reyes Sr., Michael Spiro, Tom Brechtlien, Steve Houghton, and Dom Famularo. He is equally at home in a variety of musical styles ranging from jazz, rock, fusion, funk, Latin, country and classical, and on a variety of instruments ranging from drum-set, world/ethnic percussion, orchestral percussion.

Kelly’s musical has proven his versatility through his performance and recording credentials. As a Classical Percussionist, he has performed with the Utah Symphony, Utah Opera, Ballet West, Repertory Dance Theatre, Utah Chamber Artists and Contemporary Music Consortium and was the house percussionist for Pioneer Theatre Company for seventeen years (Utah’s only equity theatre).

As a drum-set artist and percussionist, Kelly was voted “Best Drummer” by Event Magazine readers in 1985, ‘86, ‘87, and Private Eye magazine’s “Best Drummer” in 1992. He has performed and shared the stage with such luminaries as Ray Charles, Stanley Turrentine, Brian Bromberg, Grant Guissman, Brandon Fields, Richard Elliot, The Mamas and the Papas, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Charlie Bisharat, David La Flame and It’s a Beautiful Day, Francine Reed, Los Lobos, Rich Little, The Jets, Donny Osmond, Joan Rivers, Jack Imeal, Buddy Miles, Clay Aitken, Peter Cetera, Sam Cardon and Kurt Bestor. He has also recorded with Marie Osmond, Terence Blanchard, David Arkenstone, Sam Cardon, Mike Dowdle, and Kurt Bestor, to name a few.

Kelly’s television recording credits include hundreds of jingles ranging from: ABC's Monday Night Football theme, Wide World of Sports, National Geographic’s '96 Theme, ABC’s College Football campaign, '97 Pontiac, Chevy, F.H.P., The Wonder Years, Telemundo Television, Rikkie Lake Theme, Good Morning America, ESPN, Major League Baseball, ABC’s '92 fall promotional campaign and Agatha Christie Hour. He has also recorded many feature shows for television such as, Discovery Channel's "Raising the Mammoth," National Geographic's "Lewis and Clark" feature, Xena the Warrior, Hercules, He Man, PBS "Grand Canyon" to name a few. Kelly has also been very active recording film trailers such as; Quiz Show, Rubber, Terminal Velocity, Dunstin Checks In, Camp Nowhere, Spider-Man, as well as film scores like, Mi Familia, Pavilion of Women, Peace Makers, Stargate, Eve’s Bayou, Benji II, Boogeyman, Tales from the Hood and the Son of the Mask. Kelly has also recorded music for numerous special attractions such as the Imax theatre scores at Yellowstone National Park, Zion’s National Park, Whales, and the Hearst Mansion, the “Indiana Jones Attraction” at Universal Studios, the “Jelly Fish” attraction at the Monterey Sea Aquarium, the “Apollo 13” Attraction at the Kennedy Space Center. He has appeared on DVD’s for Kurt Bestor, Sam Cardon, David Arkenstone, Peter Cetera, Touched by an Angel and the movie Ski Patrol staring Martin Mull.

Along with his busy performing schedule, Kelly also keeps a very active private teaching schedule. In 1993, Kelly published his first drum text “The Rhythm Concept” to rave reviews from Modern Drummer and The Percussive Arts Society. He has since sold through three printings of the Rhythm Concept. Having over twenty-five years teaching experience, Kelly currently serves on the percussion faculty at the University of Utah and Westminster College. As an endorser for Yamaha Drums and Sabian Cymbals, Kelly is in high demand as a clinician and adjudicator throughout the Intermountain West.

Kelly is also President and owner of BackBeats - Drum & Backline, Salt Lake City’s only pro drum, percussion shop and Backline Company. The backline rental service supplies instruments and equipment to hundreds of national touring acts through out the west. The Red Hot Chile Peppers, Lionel Richie, Maroon 5, Sum 41, Macy Gray, Colour Me Badd, B.B. King, Train, Stevie Wonder, Dr. John, Dizzy Gillespie, Minnie Driver, Bacon Bros, Ludicris, Snoop Dog, Cake, The Roots, Los Lobos, Wayne Newton, Collective Soul, Cheap Trick, Al Di’meola, Robben Ford, Dave Sanborn and Joey DeFrancesco are just a few that use Kelly’s service. BackBeats - Drum & Backline has supplied many legendary percussionist such as; Steve Gadd, Tom Brechtlein, Sheila E, Pete Escovedo, Mick Fleetwood, Rod Morgenstein, Deen Castronovo, Tris Imboden, Harvey Mason, Gerry Brown, Joey Heredia, Chad Wackerman, William Calhoun, Adam Nussbaum, Ed Soph, Steve Houghton, Greg Field, Mark Walker, Sonny Emory, Paul Liem, ?Questlove, Sheila E, Pete Escovedo, Don Alias, John Santos, Jesus Diaz, Micheal Shapiro, Airto Morea, Micheal Spiro, Kevin Ricard, Steffon Harris, Dave Samuels, Gary Burton, Poncho Sanchez, Steve Smith, Marco Minneman, Alex Acuna, Horacio “El Negro” Hernendez and Jerry Gonzales. BackBeats - Drum & Backline was responsible for the entire musical instrument production at the 2002 Olympiad in Salt Lake City including the Opening and Closing ceremonies, Metals Plaza, Freestyle Venue, Olympic Village and Snowboarding venue. BackBeats - Drum & Backline and Kelly currently over sees all of the musical services for the Sundance Film Festival, Park City Jazz Festival, Snowbird Blues and Jazz Festival, Jazz at the Sheraton Series, Twilight Concert Series, Red Butte Concert Series and the Utah Arts Festival to name a few.

Courses Taught

  • Percussion - Private Lessons
Last Updated: 3/22/23