Prime Time

Bay Area - 7 Voices - Much Music

Prime Time is an award-winning jazz-centered contemporary a cappella group from the California Bay Area which specializes in heartfelt singing, exquisite musicianship, and an approachable, honest performance style. Separately, the singers have decades of experience spanning multiple styles and cultures. Together, we have one goal - to let the music shine in and through us, as we reach out to touch, inspire, and entertain everyone who hears us.

John Kelley - Baritone

John grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he studied classical piano from age 5 to 17 and composed gems ranging from piano solo “The Old Wash Rag” (at 8) to “To Turn the World,” the official theme song of the 1982 World’s Fair (at 17). 


As an undergraduate music major at Yale, John switched his musical direction from piano to voice and composition, and sang as a tenor soloist with the Yale Glee Club and the Yale Bach Society.  Early freshman year he was introduced to Yale’s vibrant “collegiate a cappella” scene, which largely took the place of the traditional Greek system.  He sang for three years with Yale’s oldest co-ed a cappella group, Redhot & Blue, for which he composed a choral setting of W.B. Yeats’s poem “When You Are Old” that now closes every concert.  During his senior year, John sang with Prime Time bass John Rae-Grant in Yale’s all-senior men’s ensemble, the Whiffenpoofs, for which he composed an enduring arrangement of another Yeats poem, “Down by the Salley Gardens.”


Since early 1987, John has lived and worked in San Francisco, where he sings with and composes for the Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys and the Aviary chorus at the Bohemian Club.  During 2015-16 he has been honored to serve as composer-in-residence for the San Francisco Choral Artists and to arrange and compose works for the nine-voice men’s ensemble Clerestory.  When not singing or composing, John earns a living as a civil litigation partner at Niesar & Vestal LLP in San Francisco.