Tori Kelly

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Tori Kelly
Tori Kelly 2015.jpg
Kelly performing at Hotel Café in 2015.
Background information
Birth name Victoria Loren Kelly
Born (1992-12-14) December 14, 1992 (age 22)[1]
Wildomar, California, U.S.
Origin Canyon Lake, California, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Years active 2006–present
Labels Capitol
Associated acts

Victoria Loren "Tori" Kelly (born December 14, 1992) is an American singer and songwriter who slowly gained recognition after starting to post videos on YouTube at the age of 14. When she was 16, Kelly auditioned for the singing competition television series, American Idol. After being eliminated from the show, Kelly began to work on her own music. In 2012, she independently released her first EP that she produced, wrote, and mixed herself titled Handmade Songs By Tori Kelly. The following year, Scooter Braun became her manager who introduced her to Capitol records, where she was signed to in September. Kelly's second EP Foreword came out in October 2013 as her first major label release. On June 23, 2015, Kelly's debut album, Unbreakable Smile was released. The lead single, "Nobody Love," was released in the spring and became her first Billboard Hot 100 appearance.

Life and career[edit]

1992–2007: Early life and career beginnings[edit]

Kelly was born in Wildomar, California. Her father is half Jamaican and half Puerto Rican, while her mother is of Irish and German descent. [2] Growing up, she was exposed to a variety of music by her parents. "I give them a lot of credit for just playing all different genres, and no genre was off limits." she said, when asked about her upbringing.[3] Kelly has appeared on the show Star Search. She did not win the contest, but later in 2004, she made an appearance on America's Most Talented Kids, singing Christina Aguilera's "Keep on Singin' My Song" and won, beating out singer and songwriter, Hunter Hayes. She made a second appearance on the show in the Tournament of Champions, but lost to Antonio Pontarelli, a rock singer/songwriter/violinist. At the age of twelve, Kelly was offered a major record deal which she accepted.[4]

2007–12: YouTube recognition and American Idol[edit]

Kelly began posting videos to YouTube in 2007, at age 14 The first video she uploaded was a cover of John Wesley Work, Jr.'s "Go Tell It On The Mountain", which she originally performed in December 2004. She was signed to Geffen Records at the age of 12 but because of conflicting ideas, it was mutually agreed for Tori to be released. Kelly gained recognition for her acoustic cover with fellow YouTuber Angie Girl of Frank Ocean's "Thinkin Bout You" in 2012.[5] When later asked about her first YouTube cover she said, "It was just me in my bedroom, it was "The Only Exception" by Paramore and it wasn't even my own guitar. I knew like...three chords".[6]

Kelly later auditioned for Season 9 of American Idol in Denver, Colorado and made it through to Hollywood week but did not reach the "Top 24." She stated in a phone interview that after her elimination, she immediately began writing more songs and was asked to take part in a youth version of the 1985 charity song "We Are the World" titled "We Are the World: The Next Generation".

2012–13: Handmade Songs and record deal[edit]

On May 1, 2012, she released her first EP, Handmade Songs By Tori Kelly, which contained six songs on her own label Toraay Records. Kelly wrote, produced, engineered, and recorded the EP by herself in her bedroom. When it was released on iTunes it made it to the Top 10 Pop Albums. Later on Kelly stated that this was one of the things that she was most proud of because of the fact that she did it all on her own. "It was something that I felt like I needed to do to prove to myself that I could do it..."[7] She called the EP a "warm up" to a full-length album that is to come in the future.[8] The EP has sold more than 14,000 copies and "reached No. 9 on Billboard's Heatseekers Albums chart".[9]

In February 2013, Kelly released a single called "Fill a Heart," which she wrote for the "Child Hunger Ends Here" campaign by ConAgra Foods and Feeding America. The song was later performed by British boy band The Wanted on Dancing With the Stars. Starting in April 2013, Kelly performed at eight different venues across continental U.S. for her "Fill a Heart" tour, helping out at the cities' food banks during the day.[10] She has performed in venues such as the Troubador and the Roxy in Los Angeles, the Gramercy Theater in New York and Bush Hall in London. She has also been featured in magazines such as Teen Vogue, Elle and Glamour.[11]

In mid-2013 Kelly's newly assigned manager Scooter Braun introduced Kelly to the heads of Capitol Records. She had been "very skeptical" she said about signing with a major record label in fear that things would not work out in her favor as had happened earlier in her career. "I'd been burned before. But when I met those guys, I had never felt that way: They were fans and really got me." And on September 6, 2013 she was signed to Capitol Records.[9]

2013–present: Foreword and Unbreakable Smile[edit]

In September 2013, Kelly announced on The Today Show that her major label debut, a second EP titled Foreword, would be released on October 22, 2013 on Capitol Records. The EP has sold more than 16,000 copies and "debut[ed] at No. 16 on the Billboard 200".[12] Kelly was the sole supporting act to Ed Sheeran at Madison Square Garden on November 1, 2013 and supported Sam Smith on his 'In the Lonely Hour' UK tour in October 2014.[13]

Kelly wrote and recorded a song called "Silent" for The Giver: Music Collection, supporting the film adaptation (The Giver) of the novel The Giver, which was released on iTunes on August 5, 2014.[14] On August 7, 2014 Kelly posted a live acoustic version of the song on her YouTube channel; it has 1,426,619 views to date.[15] Kelly was featured on Professor Green's single "Lullaby" which was released on September 14, 2014.[16] It debuted in the HOT40UK's Top 40 at No. 8 and peaked at No. 2 after 6 weeks on the chart.[17] On December 1, 2014 it was announced that Tori Kelly was one of MTV's Artist's To Watch. She privately performed two songs for MTV: "Funny" and "Dear No One"; both can be found on her Artist To Watch page.[18] Her "Funny" performance was aired on MTV for several weeks.

Throughout 2014, Kelly worked with Braun on her debut album in which she had contributions from Toby Gad, Max Martin, and Ed Sheeran.[19] The lead single from the album is "Nobody Love" and it was released on February 8, 2015. It was written by Rickard Goransson, Max Martin, and Tori Kelly herself.[20] The album, called Unbreakable Smile, was released on June 23, 2015.[21]



  • Fill A Heart Tour (2012)
  • Foreword Fall Tour (2013)
  • Where I Belong Tour (2015)


  1. ^ "About Tori Kelly (Facebook)". Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Tori Kelly Interview with Tre(7:49)". Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  3. ^ "Tori Kelly on "Handmade Songs" EP & Viral Success". Fuse. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Adam, Mike (July 2015). "Mike Adam's Music Minute: Get to Know Tori". Popstar! 16 (4): 81. 
  5. ^ "Take Cover: Frank Ocean's 'Thinkin Bout You': Tori Kelly (and Angie Girl)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "104.3 MYfm New Music - Interview with Tori Kelly". Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Tori Kelly - Sushi Challenge - Nobu Unplugged January (2:19)". 
  8. ^ Benjamin, Jeff. "YouTube Star Tori Kelly Reveals Plans for Full-Length Album". 
  9. ^ a b Wete, Brad. "Tori Kelly Moves 'Foreword,' Releases 'Dear No One' Video - 21 under 21 (2013): Tori Kelly". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  10. ^ Costello, Carly. "Toi Kelly Launches Fill a Heart Tour Today". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Justin Bieber Curates the 2013 Music Portfolio". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  12. ^ Wete, Brad. "Tori Kelly Moves 'Foreword,' Releases 'Dear No One' Video". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "Taylor Swift makes surprise appearance at Ed Sheeran's Madison Square Garden show". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "The Giver: Music Collection". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "Tori Kelly - 'Silent' from The Giver movie soundtrack". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  16. ^ "Professor Green - Lullaby ft. Tori Kelly". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  17. ^ "Lullaby - Professor Green Feat. Tori Kelly". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  18. ^ Walker, John. "Artist To Watch: Tori Kelly’s The Idol You’ve Been Looking For, America". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  19. ^ "Tori Kelly - About". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  20. ^ "Tori Kelly - About - paragraph 2". 
  21. ^ "Unbreakable Smile on iTunes". Apple. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 

External links[edit]