10 Questions with ... Tori Kelly
January 18, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Tori Kelly gained recognition after winning on "America's Most Talented Kids" at the age of 12. She then began posting videos on YouTube at the age of 14 and after auditioning for Season 9 of American Idol she began to work on her own music. In 2012, she independently released her first EP "Handmade Songs By Tori Kelly". She then began working with manager Scooter Braun signing to Capitol Records. Her second EP "Foreword" came out in October 2013 as her first major label release. In 2015 she released her debut album "Unbreakable Smile" and the single "Nobody Love" became her first US Billboard Hot 100 debut. Kelly then released the follow up "Should've Been Us" followed by her new single "Hollow" which is now a Top 25 hit at Top 40. Tori Kelly is currently nominated for "Best New Artist" at the 58th Grammy Awards.
1) Growing up, did you always want to be a singer? When did you begin writing your own music?
I've wanted to be a singer for as long as I can remember. I was probably about 3 years old when I started mimicking singers, especially in Gospel music. I didn't start writing my own stuff until I was 15.
2) Have you been able to really back and appreciate this exciting year that you have had? It looks like you are having a lot of fun!
I try to take it one day at a time so I can actually appreciate everything that's been happening. But thank you, I am having fun!
3) Please tell us about your new single "Hollow"?
"Hollow" is a song about being empty. it's my love song to God because He is the only one who can fill me completely.
4) You first got noticed by posting your amazing YouTube covers. What cover are you most proud of today?
I'm still very proud of the "PYT" cover that I did. Michael Jackson has such a universal sound that anyone can listen to, but the challenge for me was to make it my own. I practiced that arrangement for three days before actually posting the video.
5) Did you hear from any of the artists that you covered?
I recently got to meet Justin Timberlake and he told me I do "suit & tie" better than him, (which I don't think is true) but I'm a huge fan of his so hearing that was surreal.
6) Please tell us about your debut album "Unbreakable Smile"?
As a kid with big dreams, I put one dream higher than all the rest and that was to simply release a full length album. When it finally came out this year, it felt like my whole life was put into it. This is one of my favorite moments of my career so far.
7) Generally, where do you get the inspiration for your music?
I'm super proud of "Unbreakable Smile" because after I wrote it (in my bedroom), it felt like I experienced a breakthrough in my songwriting. I'm honestly just inspired by my life & the lives around me.
8) Please tell us what it was like working with Max Martin on your hit single "Nobody Loves"?
Max Martin is one of the most talented people I've ever worked with. He goes with the flow and he always knows what's missing in a song. He had respect for me as a writer too which was cool. I had a lot of fun in the studio with him and his team.
9) What artists have consistently inspired you and your music? Your music has been compared to some 90's R&B so what 90's artists did you love?
I grew up listening to singers like Crystal Lewis, J. Moss, Maxwell, Jill Scott, India Arie, John Mayer, and Jeff Buckley. As far as 90's music goes, I loved Lauryn Hill, TLC, Mary J. Blige, and Michael Jackson, to name a few.
10) What do you hope people take away from listening to your music?
I hope that people feel inspired by my story. How I took every "no" and every doubt and every set back and turned it into a drive ... a fire! I hope it makes them smile even through the hardest times.
Who would you like to work with in the future?
I'd love to work with Lenny Kravitz or Seal at some point.
Fashion seems to be a big part of your career these days. Can you talk about being named the new face of Justin Timberlake's William Rast brand?
I love how fashion can express an emotion just like music can. It's art to me, so to be a part of someone's vision (especially someone like Timberlake) is amazing. It helps when you love the clothes too :)
Can you talk about covering the Pocahontas song "Colors of The Wind" for the upcoming "We Love Disney" album? I read that you loved the movie.
I do love the movie! Pocahontas just stood out to me as a kid. Maybe it was her bravery and her adventurous spirit. It's a lot of pressure to cover a classic Disney tune but I was stoked at the opportunity.
Please tell us about your experience performing with Andrea Bocelli on the MTV Europe Music Awards?
Singing with Andrea was a dream! I was so flattered that he wanted to sing with me, let alone on such a big stage. He and his whole team were so sweet and took care of me while I was in Milan.