Gillian Kohn’s love of the classic era of jazz and Hollywood began in her youth. Growing up in small-town Hartsville, SC, she always dreamed big, studying closely the black-and-white films she loved and their stars: Vivien Leigh, Sophia Loren, Katherine Hepburn, Judy Garland. Involved in her community theater from a young age, she kept an eye toward performing and a hope of traveling to New York City.
This wish was granted when at 17, Kohn’s acting talents earned her an invitation to study at the the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, where she honed her storytelling skills with acting teacher Geoffrey Horne. After graduating high school, she went on to the College of Charleston, where she studied classical voice with soprano Margaret Kelly-Cook; however, finding that classical voice wasn’t her calling, she went back to New York City, where she was accepted at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.
The financial difficulty of sustaining life and study in New York, however, led Kohn to travel even further — this time to live and work in London, England and then Sydney, Australia. Kohn describes this as a time of personal growth and confidence-building. Never giving up on her music career, she continued to perform on her days off from work.
In 2003 Kohn returned to the United States. In the following years, she studied communications at Coker College, formed a jazz trio, and moved back to Charleston, where she won the FOX 24 Low Country Idol competition which earned her a trip to Chicago. During this time she also met her husband, and over the next decade her attentions were largely focused on their family and the business they owned together.
However, Kohn has returned to the stage. In 2018 she met jazz guitarist Chris Dodson, when he moved in next door, and together they formed Neighbors Jazz Duo. She has performed at many local venues, has been involved with such high-profile events as Charleston Fashion Week, and is a strong advocate for non-profit organizations like the Charleston Walk for Autism, Surfers Healing, and the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Gillian Kohn will be performing at Forte Jazz Lounge on Saturday, October 10th. For tickets, go to https://www.fortejazzlounge.com/events/forte-jazz-trio-7-00pm-11-00pm-6. For more about the artist, visit her website at https://gilliankohn.com.