When she was 14, Tori Kelly started writing songs in the bedroom of her Southern California home. Within years she began sharing those songs online and quickly won over Internet audiences with her sweetly soaring vocals, graceful guitar-playing, and knack for blending breezy melodies with boldly heart-on-sleeve lyrics. With her YouTube channel boasting more 40 million views and 500,000 subscribers, the 20-year-old singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist is now at work on her debut album—a passionate pairing of rock and pop that reflects both her lifelong devotion to music and uncommon authenticity as an artist. Tori says: “One of the most important things to me as a songwriter is to make music that’s young and fresh, but also soulful and real”
A musical purist who began singing at age three and learned to play drums and guitar by the time she was 16, Kelly forgoes over-the-top production in favour of laying bare her natural musicianship and ingenuity in songwriting. Bolstered by her easy magnetism as a performer, that potent combination helped her 2012 self-released EP Handmade Songs By Tori Kelly to debut at #9 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. In creating the follow-up to Handmade Songs (which she wrote, produced, and mixed all on her own), Kelly is teaming up with producer Butch Walker (Taylor Swift, Fall Out Boy, Pink) to elevate her artistry while preserving the spirited simplicity of her sound.
Released in May 2012, Handmade Songs featured six tracks performed entirely by Kelly (with the exception of her father’s contributions on bass). Handmade Songs quickly climbing to the top ten on the iTunes pop chart, Kelly soon started playing shows at local coffeehouses to build more support for her music. Her very first coffeehouse show was attended by Scooter Braun (manager for artists like Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen), who has since become a mentor for the singer/songwriter.
When it comes to crafting songs for her debut album, Kelly asserts that her utmost ambition is to deliver honest, emotionally charged music that resonates with those who’ve supported her musical journey over the years. “I’m always very real in my songwriting—I’m not trying to put on a mask or hide behind any kind of gimmick,” she says. “No matter what I’m going to do my own thing. So when people tell me that they relate to my songs, or that something I’ve written really connects with them, that’s just the best feeling in the world.”