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 than 45 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.
A musical purist who began singing at age three and learned to play drums and guitar by the time she was 16, Kelly wrote, produced, mixed, and self-released an EP titled Handmade Songs By Tori Kelly in May 2012—then saw the EP debut at #6 on Soundscan’s New Artist chart and at #9 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. Earlier that same year, Kelly’s online popularity skyrocketed when a YouTube video of her stripped-down, goosebump-inducing rendition of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” went viral, and to date has garnered over 15 million views. Over the past year, Kelly has sold out shows at The Roxy in Los Angeles, Gramercy Theatre in New York City, and Bush Hall in London, as well as headlined a sold-out nine-city U.S. tour.
For her debut album, Kelly is back in the studio working to elevate her artistry while delivering 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,” says Kelly, who lists artists as eclectic as Michael Jackson, Jill Scott, Jeff Buckley, and Justin Timberlake as key inspirations. “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.”