Tori Kelly is the new kid on the block all set to put her name on the world map. She may not be a well-known name on your playlist, but she is surely in the spotlight now with her nomination in the Best New Artist category at this year’s Grammy Awards.
Victoria Loren “Tori” Kelly was born on 14 December 1992 to a Puerto Rican-Jamaican father and an Irish-German mother in Wildomar, California. With a cocktail of cultures, one thing that stood out in her life was her love for music, which was encouraged by her parents who listened to a variety of music. Her father sang and played bass, while her mother was proficient on keyboards and saxophone. She grew up listening to gospel and was influenced by pop and R&B acts such as Jeff Buckley, Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott.
Kelly had always dreamt of being a professional musician since she was very young. In 2004, she participated on America’s Most Talented Kids, singing Christina Aguilera’s Keep On Singin’ My Song and won, beating country singer Hunter Hayes. She made a second appearance on the show in the Tournament of Champions, but lost to rock musician Antonio Pontarelli. At 12, she was offered a record deal by Geffen Records, which was a turning point for her. But sadly she and the label parted ways before she could release any material.
In 2007, when she was around 15 years old, she began posting videos on YouTube. Her first upload was a cover of Go Tell It On The Mountain. Later, she duetted with a fellow YouTuber on Frank Ocean’s Thinkin’ About You. This gave her a bit of more recognition.
Kelly tried her hand at the reality show American Idol, and reached just short of the top 24. During this time, she took lessons in guitar, piano, drums and keyboard and also found time to compose and record original songs on her own personal computer. Within a short span of time her music had reached a wide audience; she began sharing her performances through YouTube; her page crossed 700,000 subscribers.