Talk to anyone around western Iowa these days, and you're likely to hear about two things, the drought and the amazing talent of one of their own. The name Kelsey has come to be quite familiar to western Iowans, and that reputation is growing fast around the country as this young, talented 13-year-old singer songwriter begins her journey towards her lifelong dream of becoming Nashville's newest singing sensation. A prodigious songwriter and musician, Kelsey has already written well over 100 songs by age 12 and released her first all original album at age 11.
Kelsey's vibrant and powerfully expressive sound coupled with a country cry that pulls at your heartstrings captures her lyrics and delivers them in a way that touches and inspires those who hear her. Kelsey's new all original album "Blue Jean Girl" produced by Jimmy Nichols, musical director for Faith Hill, has just been released. "If I could imagine how artists like Carole King, Carly Simon, and Janis Ian started out, it would be Kelsey. She has the heart and soul of a true musical artist. The scary part is she's just beginning! says one reviewer.
The next opportunity to hear this budding artist live will be Nov. 23 at the Gathering Place in Cherokee, 8 p.m., with veteran backup performers the Buffalo Ridge Band, who accompanied Kelsey in the Storm Lake concert as well, and have also worked with area native and Nashville recoding artist Shawn Mayer. Over the past year, she has appeared in over 100 shows in seven states.
Kelsey will be a featured artist with the Sioux City Symphony for their Christmas Spectacular Show "Christmas from Around the World" on Dec. 15, and will have a CD debut party at the Southpark Mall in Spencer Dec. 1, 1-3 p.m.
"I'm really excited about the release of my new original album. I was blessed with the opportunity to write with some of the best writers in Nashville. The songs on this album are unique and fun, and have positive messages. The best part about being a songwriter is getting to touch people with my music. It's cool to know I can make a difference in somebody's life with a three minute song. I think people will be surprised by how much I've grown as a singer and songwriter," she says.
Her passion for songwriting began to develop at a very young age. She appeared on stage for the first time at age 4. As soon as she could write, she began penning her heart songs, and by age 9 she bought her first guitar with her birthday money. At 11, she won the Colgate Country Competition and was opening for national star Gary Allen.
She took quickly to the guitar and began strumming and picking the melodies to her original songs. Her capacity for music was endless; she soaked up every bit of musical knowledge possible and dreamed of working with the best musicians in Nashville. Kelsey began to realize her dream when she made her first trip to Nashville at age 11 to record her self -penned album, "Live, Laugh, Love." Eddie Killgallon of Montgomery Gentry produced Kelsey's first EP. He felt that "Kelsey's melody and lyric writing far surpasses anyone I've met at her age." She has an ear for chords and melodies that are unique, setting her songs apart with a style that is all her own. Kelsey's song "You're Beautiful" was chosen for an anti-bullying program called "Inner Hero" in Australia, and her song "I Am Somebody" was chosen for MTV's documentary "Bullied."
Since then, she has been capturing the hearts of audiences everywhere, including the CMA Music Festival. CMA fans watching Kelsey's performance commented they had walked for blocks just to see where "the voice" was coming from. They were surprised to find a talented 12-year-old girl playing her guitar "Ruby" and singing with a voice beyond her years.
She is the youngest songwriter ever selected by top industry professionals to attend NSAI's Advanced Song Camp with a scholarship in June of 2011, and was featured on BMI's website in July and Strum Magazine in October of 2011. In 2012, Kelsey started her own publishing company, "Soul of a Songbird Publishing," and is quickly making her mark as a leading songwriter of her generation, garnering the attention of top Nashville music industry professionals.
She was a headliner for Storm Lake's Star Spangled Spectacular and the Clay County Fair last summer, along with the Sioux City Artsplash, Grand Meadow Heritage Festival, Texaco Country Showdown and more.
"I love performing with a live band, it gives me a chance to put down my guitar and interact with the audience. I've always loved to dance and have fun, having a great band behind me gives me a chance to show fans that side of me."
She also works with many charities, such as Relay For Life, Sing for Africa, Make a Wish Foundation, veterans programs, and this season played in Nashville to support a breast cancer awareness program.