Claude Kelly

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Claude Kelly
Kelly in 2015
Kelly in 2015
Background information
Born (1980-12-27) December 27, 1980 (age 42)
New York City, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • music producer
  • Vocals
  • piano
Years active2002–present

Claude Kelly (born December 27, 1980)[1] is an American singer, songwriter and music producer. He is a four-time Grammy Award nominee, and has written or co-written songs for Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars, Christina Aguilera, Adam Lambert, Jennifer Lopez, Kesha, Brandy, and One Direction. He and Chuck Harmony make up the R&B duo Louis York, and founded the music collective Weirdo Workshop.

Early life and education[edit]

Kelly was born and raised in New York City.[2] His Jamaican-born mother introduced him to a variety of music styles, including jazz, reggae, blues and R&B. Growing up, he studied piano and flute at the Third Street Music School Settlement and sang with the New York Boys Choir.[3] Kelly attended Grace Church School, Riverdale Country School, and then Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, graduating with a degree in music business/management in 2002.[3]



After graduating from Berklee, Kelly worked as a session singer on the East Coast, before starting to write his own songs.[3] He placed his first song in 2002, when "You're Taking It" was included on a CD compilation for Japanese clothing line A Bathing Ape.[4][5] He wrote "Daddy's Little Girl" for Frankie J, which was released as a single in 2006,[6] and led to a publishing contract with Warner/Chappell Music.[3] That year, Kelly was introduced to producer RedOne, and began working with him and Lady Gaga, who was at the time working on her first album. This led to an introduction to Akon.[6] Kelly and Akon co-wrote "Hold My Hand" with Whitney Houston in mind, but Akon liked the song so much that he decided to record it as a duet with Michael Jackson.[5][7] It was one of Jackson's last recordings, and appeared on his 2010 posthumous album Michael.[7]

Nicknamed the Studio Beast,[6] Kelly has written numerous hits, including the Britney Spears song "Circus", which he wrote with Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco and reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100,[8] and No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Songs and Billboard Hot Dance Club Play charts;[9] Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You", which he co-wrote with Max Martin and Dr. Luke and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100;[8] and the Miley Cyrus single "Party in the U.S.A.", written with Dr. Luke and Jessie J,[10] which spent 28 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at No. 2.[11] Kelly co-wrote and recorded backing vocals for "International Love" by Pitbull featuring Chris Brown, which peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.[12] He has been nominated for four Grammy Awards: the 2011 Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for Fantasia's "Bittersweet";[13] two 2012 Grammy Awards, for Song of the Year for Bruno Mars' "Grenade" and Best R&B Song for Ledisi's "Pieces of Me";[4] and the 2013 Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for Tamia's "Beautiful Surprise".[6] He was named to The Hollywood Reporter's 2013 list of Music's Top 35 Hitmakers.[1]

Kelly has written songs for Whitney Houston,[13] R. Kelly,[14] Miley Cyrus,[3] Olly Murs,[6] Jessie J,[1] Britney Spears,[15] Leona Lewis,[3] John Legend,[4] Faith Evans,[4] Joe Jonas,[16] Jason Derulo,[5] Backstreet Boys,[6] Adam Lambert,[6] Martina McBride,[3] Christina Aguilera,[2] One Direction,[2] The Wanted,[3] and the K-pop girl group Wonder Girls.[17] He co-executive produced Karmin's 2012 EP Hello and Tamia's 2012 album Beautiful Surprise, and co-produced Masha's debut rock EP Stupid, Stupid Dreams in 2013.[4]

Louis York[edit]

In 2014, Kelly and fellow songwriter and producer Chuck Harmony formed the R&B duo Louis York. Their debut EP, Masterpiece Theater – Act I, was released in 2015. The first single, "Clair Huxtable", is an ode to Phylicia Rashad's character on The Cosby Show. The EP was the first release from their music collective Weirdo Workshop, with distribution from Sony's RED Music.[2]


Kelly served as a vocal producer for the US version of The X Factor in 2011 and 2012.[4][18] In August 2013, it was announced that he and Jenna Hally Rubenstein were partnering to executive produce and develop a reality television show to find undiscovered music moguls.[19]


Year Award Category Work Result
2011 Grammy Award Best R&B Song "Bittersweet" by Fantasia
2012 Grammy Award Song of the Year "Grenade" by Bruno Mars Nominated
Grammy Award Best R&B Song "Pieces of Me" by Ledisi Nominated
2013 Grammy Award Best R&B Song "Beautiful Surprise" by Tamia Nominated


Louis York[edit]

Title Album details
Masterpiece Theater – Act I
  • Released: September 18, 2015
  • Formats: Digital download
  • Label: Weirdo Workshop
Masterpiece Theater – Act II
  • Released: November 18, 2016
  • Formats: Digital download
  • Label: Weirdo Workshop

As songwriter[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Shirley Halperin and Bob Love, "THR Names Music's 35 Top Hitmakers," The Hollywood Reporter, February 6, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Gerrick D. Kennedy, "Hitmakers Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony debut as Louis York," Los Angeles Times, February 24, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Small, Mark. "Claude Kelly '02, Chasin' the Chills". Berklee Today. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Mitchell Peters, "Songwriter Claude Kelly has Eyes on Making Songs That Last," Billboard, August 10, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Interview with Claude Kelly," Archived November 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Hit Quarters, May 24, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Exclusive Interview With Claude Kelly," National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, May 21, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Zack O'Malley Greenburg, "Michael Jackson and Akon Song Originally Intended For Whitney Houston," Forbes, February 20, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Mariel Concepcion, "Claude Kelly Hits Big With Clarkson, Spears," Billboard, January 29, 2009.
  9. ^ "Circus — Britney Spears". Billboard. Nielsen Company. Retrieved January 4, 2010.
  10. ^ Jon Caramanica, "Miley Cyrus, Growing Up, Tests Identities," The New York Times, June 29, 2010.
  11. ^ Elias Leight, "Jessie J on Writing 'Party in the U.S.A.': 'It Paid My Rent for 3 Years'," Billboard, December 29, 2014.
  12. ^ "Pitbull feat. Claude Kelly - International Love". YouTube. o0EriksMusik0o. Archived from the original on December 20, 2021. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Zack O'Malley Greenburg, "Claude Kelly Talks Grammys, Grenades and Bruno Mars," Forbes, February 11, 2012.
  14. ^ Janice Brown, "Studio Beast in the Hot Seat: Claude Kelly," Sonic Scoop, February 10, 2010.
  15. ^ "Claude Kelly Hits Big With Clarkson, Spears". Billboard. September 14, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  16. ^ Jocelyn Vena, "Joe Jonas Playing 'Sex Symbol' on New Solo Album," MTV, March 18, 2011.
  17. ^ Alan Gonzales, Alan. "Wonder Girls & Claude Kelly's Cambio video feature revealed!". Allkpop. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  18. ^ Robert P. Walzer, "The Apollo Auditions for the Future," The Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2011.
  19. ^ Kimberly Nordyke, "Hitmaker Claude Kelly, Jenna Hally Rubenstein Developing Reality Show to Find Undiscovered Music Mogul," The Hollywood Reporter, August 21, 2013.

External links[edit]