In her youth no one knew the difficulties Kelly would face in order to become a formidable force in the music business. Kelly herself was oblivious to the obstacle that for all practical purposes should have killed her chances at becoming exactly what her spirit screamed to do. As a young child she was driven to crawl up on the piano and play. This led to piano lessons and the beginning of her frustrations. She said: “There were no creative teachers for me at that time. They said you need to learn Beethoven, you need to learn Bach, you need to learn to read music. I said wow can I just close my eyes and you hum it for me?” Kelly has Dyslexia. Anyone who knows, reading words is a struggle for a Dyslexic, reading music is almost impossible.
In her mid teens she acquired a set of drums from a neighbor. Shortly after that her father told her if she got rid of the drums he’d get her anything she wanted. Kelly got her first guitar at age 15. Still unaware of her condition she happened upon a guitar teacher who’s teaching style had her play in front of a mirror. In later years this training, along with the ability to play by ear, enabled her to jump in and play with other guitarists almost immediately. Kelly said: “ It was kind of an odd match that really worked for me.” Even though this approach had better results than her rigid beginnings it was by no means a cakewalk. It would still take years of practicing 16 hours a day in order win the battle over what threatened to undermine a promising career.
Her early musical influences are all based in rock and roll. While she is definitely a blues oriented artist there is an unmistakable rock undercurrent to her music that adds an edgy element to her songs. “To be quite honest I was very ignorant in the blues. I didn’t realize all of my hero guitar players learned their licks from the blues. I just didn’t know. I thought aww, the blues is simple I don’t have to learn how to play that, that’s easy. Then in 1988 I had the opportunity to play with Albert King and I said whoa, well, this would definitely not be easy. This is an art form that I don’t know anything about. That absolutely changed my whole life and my direction. I’ve been playing the blues ever since.”
Kelly admits that her best comes out as a live performer. She plays with such fervor that she actually hurt her neck one night from throwing her head back She injured herself so badly she couldn’t move for two weeks. Her intense playing style also wreaked havoc on her left arm about ten years ago. “It took me three years of concentrated physical training to get on top of my shoulder and left arm problem. I went to sports medicine doctors, chiropractors, trainers, everything except gurus. Now I have a weight-training program and I do a lot of stretching to alleviate any future problems.” She maintains a rigorous physical training schedule on and off the road.
Kelly produced 3 CDs before starting her own label, Sweet Lucy Records. “I was determined to start my own label and stick with that. It wasn’t necessarily what I had to do. I’ve been in a band that was on a major label; I’ve seen how awful that can be. Not that it is always like that, but it can be.” One day Kelly hopes to assist other artists in their pursuits. To anyone that will come across her path in that capacity will find a veritable wealth of knowledge not only in the artistic vein but in the business aspect as well. Of her past experiences she has this to say: “I have no regrets over the choices I’ve made, the good or the bad. I carry the most wisdom from the idiotic things that I’ve done.”
This is not a performer you will want to
miss. Everything that has gone into forging this prodigious artist comes
from years of struggling against great odds and an unwavering passion for
what she holds to be sacred in her life ... The music.
Article written by: Leslie
Leslie Sallee is a former audio engineer and is currently trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life.
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