Johanna Grüssner is from the Åland Islands in Finland. She studied in Sweden before moving to Boston. She is a Berklee and Manhattan School graduate. Grüssner made headlines in major U.S. television broadcasting companies in 2001 when she had trained her Bronx public school children to sing groovy gospel, and touring her native Finland. She made a particular impression on New York Times journalist Anemona Hartocollis, who wrote the book Seven Days of Possibilities, describing Grüssner's ambitious dedication.
Grüssner has recorded several albums with pianist Mika Pohjola. Additionally she has performed and recorded with her Manhattan Jazz Orchestra and Grammy award winning musicians Darmon Meader and Peter Eldridge. Her quintet, featuring drummer Antonio Sanchez, guitarists Miles Okazaki and Paul Pesonen and bassist Hans Glawischnig recorded for the Swedish Prophone-Naxos Jazz label in 2002. A follow-up album was recorded two years later.
Johanna Grüssner is currently based in Stockholm, Sweden where she is a busy performer and teacher.
All Things Considered: Ten years ago, jazz singer Johanna Grüssner moved to New York from Finland to study music and pursue stardom. Instead, she discovered a second love -- teaching music to 10, 11 and 12-year olds at P.S. 86, an underprivileged Bronx school.
Nine out of 10 students enrolled at the school were poor. Only four in 10 spoke English; only two in 10 could read at grade level. Many were considered troublemakers and underachievers.
Hoping to show the students what they were capable of, Grüssner formed a children's choir. Three and a half years ago, the group traveled to the Åland Islands, Grüssner's homeland, for a performance that captivated their hosts. Their story is chronicled in the new book Seven Days of Possibilities, by New York Times education reporter Anemona Hartocollis.
Shortly after that performance in Finland, Grüssner left the states. This summer, Grüssner reunited with many of her former students for one last performance. NPR's Claudio Sanchez talks with the students about what the experience meant to them.