Julian Velard (born October 6, 1979), is an American pianist and singer-songwriter, born and raised in New York City. In addition to releasing albums of original material, he is a regular guest on several NPR programs.
Velard was born in New York City on the Upper West Side on Manhattan. His mother, Margaret, is a former actress turned Real Estate Agent. She is also a 4-time Jeopardy Champion and Queens sized legs model who moved to New York from Alabama at the age of 21. His father, Maxime, was a hidden child during the Holocaust. He emigrated from Paris in 1963 and worked in computers, designing the technology for the first ATMs for Citibank.
Velard attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as "The Fame School". There he was classmates with actor Adrian Grenier and singer Kelis, among others. He then attended Hampshire College in Western, Massachusetts where he majored in composition. There he studied directly under Jazz legend Yusef Lateef. He also took a semester abroad in Paris where he studied with pianist Kirk Lightsey from Dexter Gordon's band and The Leaders. During his time in Paris, Velard worked as a street sweeper for the Paris Department of Sanitation.
Upon graduating college, Velard moved to Brooklyn and began his career as a professional musician. Gigging at night, he supported himself by working as Kindergarten Gym Teacher. It was during this period he saved money to record his first album, Nitetime. Released independently in 2003, Nitetime is a live, jazz pop record featuring an acoustic rhythm section and the unusual pairing of a trumpet and violin. Another live album with the same ensemble quickly followed, Make Me Feel 3.27.03.
The next 3 years were quiet for Velard as he sought to untangle himself from a nasty production deal. In the fall of 2006 Velard released an EP entitled The Movies Without You, produced by Roger Greenawalt. Soon after its release the EP garnered buzz in UK Record Industry Circles and in 2007, Velard signed a multi record deal with Angel Music Group and subsequently moved to London. There he performed at the second ever Latitude Festival. He also played the iTunes Festival co-billing with José González. The following year he was the opening act for Amy Macdonald on both legs of her This Is The Life UK Tour.
In London he used the songs on the EP to create what would should have been his first major label release, The Planeteer. Produced by Steve Power, the recording process took close to a year, causing the release schedule to be pushed back. On June 16, 2008, Velard's debut single, Jimmy Dean & Steve McQueen was released in the UK. The song was in heavy rotation on BBC Radio 2 and Velard appeared on The Dermot O'Leary Show. He was also a guest on ITV's This Morning. On June 18, 2008 EMI eliminated 2,000 positions worldwide including the Charisma imprint. The Planeteer was shelved and Velard was moved over to Virgin Records. In May 2009, Velard was dropped by Virgin and subsequently moved back to New York. He was given back the record and released The Planeteer independently in November 2009.
In 2010 Velard began writing songs for other artists. During this time Olly Murs recorded Velard's song Hold On for his debut album, which went on to go 2x platinum in the UK. During this time he opened the first half of Jamie Cullum's US Tour.
2011 Velard reemerged with a new album, Mr. Saturday Night, and a deal through Shamrock Solutions.The album was well received in the UK, with Velard appearing on ITV's This Morning as well as The Alan Titchmarsh Show and BBC's The Review Show. The album was also released in the Netherlands due to an online discovery by radio and TV host Gerard Ekdom. After connecting with Ekdom on Twitter, Velard appeared on Effe Ekdom and subsequently signed a deal with Go Entertainment. He has gone on to success in Holland, playing Serious Request as well as playing and hosting The Songbird Festival.
In 2012, Velard substituted for Jonathan Coulton as the guest musician on NPR's Ask Me Another. He has since become a regular on the NPR show. As a result of his work on Ask Me Another, Velard was tapped by NPR to be the musical director for a pilot of a new humor show with Scott Simon entitled Scott Simon's Wonderful Town.
In 2013 Velard announced a Pledge Music for his next record, If You Don't Like It, You Can Leave, a concept album about New York City.
On June 16, 2014, If You Don't Like It, You Can Leave was released in the US through Exodus Entertainment and in Benelux through Go Entertainment. The album was well received by critics. The first two singles off the album, I Don't Know How To Drive and No One's Getting Married Tonight, were both airplay hits in the Netherlands. Velard opened a tour for Paul Carrack that July, then was booked for his own headline show in the main hall at the legendary Paradiso (Amsterdam) that November.