If you watched the 9th season of American Idol, you might have missed Tori Kelly. Eliminated before the show went to air, 16-year-old Kelly sang her heart out for the judges of American Idol, failing to impress Simon Cowell (shocking), while leaving a good impression on the other three to get her into the next round. Not too shabby for a girl who had already been on a record label at 12.
In the 5 years since then, Kelly’s arguably become bigger and better than any singing competition show would have made her. She accomplished all of this with her one true desire: making real music the way she wanted.
Her cover of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin’ About You” got her massive attention from the public, and she would go on to gain over a million YouTube subscribers, as well as the attention of the record label Capitol Records. It would not be wrong to say Kelly is now more than ready to make her mark on music, but in reality, the 22-year-old has been doing this for over a decade now and the only proof you need is in her music.
“Dear No One”, her most popular song by far, sounds like a woman coming to the realization of what’s important to her, namely her own independence:
I like being independent
Not so much of an investment
No one to tell me what to do
I like being by myself
But she isn’t ashamed in looking for a special spark of romance:
Got that young love even when we’re old
Yeah sometimes, I want someone to grab my hand
Pick me up, pull me close, be my man
I will love you till the end
The song is a careful balance of holding on to individuality while at the same time open to sharing herself with another, though she’ll be waiting till the time’s right:
But I’m done lookin’, for my future someone
Cause when the time is right
You’ll be here, but for now
Dear no one, this is your love song
After supporting musicians like Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith on tour and having a song on The Giver film soundtrack, Kelly’s almost finished with her first full length album, set to drop later this year.
RollingStone.com listed her as one of the “10 New Artists You Need to Know” for March 2015. Kelly takes R&B and mixes it so effortlessly in her “Nobody Love” single. The track gives homage to a 90’s flare while still keeping in tune with today’s pop melodies and her soulful aura.
If you’re not a fan yet, don’t wait up. Tori Kelly sure isn’t.