Kelly Price - My Black Family Reunion

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  /    /  Kelly Price

Kelly Price

Kelley Price

“I’m A Writer First”…

Those are the words Kelly Price chooses to describe herself, her talent.  When you listen, closely, to her songs, it’s evident that she writes and sings from her soul. It’s a place she’s come to know quite well. “Music saved my life,” she says. “Writing has been my therapy; it’s the most incredible gift.” 

9 x Grammy nominated singer and songwriter Kelly Price is the second of three daughters, born and raised in Queens, New York, in the church. That’s where her musical roots were planted, and tended to, early on. It’s where, as a two-year-old, she began singing in the children’s choir, where she sang her first solo at three and

was fittingly-blessed with the moniker, Little Mahalia-a nickname given to her by teachers in elementary school after hearing her sing for the first time. “I grew up in a family full of singers and musicians. Everybody in my family wrote songs and played one or more instruments. Being raised in a “strict, old- school Pentecostal”

household, she was restricted her from wearing jewelry, make-up and pants (long skirts were the preference). But like most creative spirits, Price was destined to soar far beyond her point of origin. And so, she has.

By the age of 12 Kelly stumbled into laying background vocals when she was at a recording session with her mother and the producer over heard her perfectly singing the notes to his song as he instructed the singers in between takes. The producer was shocked and after receiving permission from her mother, put Kelly on the song as a background vocalist. This led to an opportunity to sing lead vocals on another independently recorded project with a local church choir. This process came easy to Kelly. Her sharp ear and quick learning capability along with her mature vocal sound earned her a widely known reputation causing her to be sought out by many up and coming producers throughout her teen years. By 17 years old she was the “it” girl for music producers who were in need of a vocalist to record their music when shopping it to labels.

For years Kelly wasn’t paid for these “gigs” however, her free labor would pay off by sharpening her studio and production skills and ultimately helping by making a connection in January 1992 that would land Kelly her first major engagement. In January of 1992 Price performed live behind George Michael at Madison Square Garden in NYC.

This was followed 1 month later by Kelly participating with a 40 voiced choir backing Mariah Carey at the Grammy Awards resulting in Kelly being approached by Tommy Mottola, then President of Sony Music who wanted to “make her a star”. This would also be the day Mariah Carey approached Price to ask if she would be interested in working with her. MTV “Unplugged” would be the first engagement of a nearly 6 year working relationship with Carey. In the years to follow Kelly Price would become the most consistent voice on Carey’s records and the most consistent face seen with her on television and stage.

At 22 years old Kelly began to actively pursue a serious career in songwriting, placing thoughts of being her own artist on the backburner after repeatedly being told that she could never make it as a mainstream R&B or pop artist performing her own music because both her voice and her body were too big. The belief was that Kelly simply would not fit in with the lighter, more radio friendly sounding voices and smaller more television friendly frames that record executives and the public preferred.

Initially willing to accept the publicly denied yet seemingly firm rule of the music industry Kelly convinced herself that she didn’t want to be an artist and went to work writing and placing songs with other artist to satisfy her need to get her music out.

The delay of Kelly’s solo career proved to be anything but a delay. By taking the path of a writer first, Kelly walked into a world of amazing learning experiences and in no time became one of the most sought after songwriters in the music industry, especially in the R&B and hip Hop community. Opportunities to record, produce, share stages with and pen songs for a plethora of artists spanning multiple genres of music began to pour in.

In 1996 after nearly a year of touring with both Puff Daddy and the Family and The Isley Brothers Price was being wooed by both Combs and Isley to sign to their labels. MCA and Jive Records would soon throw their hats I the ring and a bidding war began. Ultimately, Kelly signed with Isley’s T –Neck Records (distributed by Island Records) giving her the long awaited platform and opportunity to test the waters for herself and release her own music in her own voice. Many who heard her compared her sound to the vocal styling of a young Aretha Franklin

The excitement of this opportunity was increased by Price’s now legendary performance on 1997’s Hip hop anthem Mo Money Mo Problems f/ Puff Daddy, Mase and the late rap Mega Star The Notorious BIG. 1998 saw the release of her double-platinum debut, Soul of a Woman, which featured the record-breaking single, “Friend of Mine.” The song made history as the first to garner the #1 spot on the singles chart without an accompanying video clip, a rare feat during the era when music videos were the driving force of popular culture. She returned to center stage three years later with the platinum-plus seller, Mirror, Mirror, led by her remake of the R&B classic, “As We Lay,” and followed up with the gold-selling holiday collection, One Family: A Christmas Album in 2001. Three years after releasing Priceless (April, 2003) and the Grammy nominated song “He Proposed”. She returned to her roots for This Is Whom I Am, a live gospel album recorded at her church home in Long Island. The album included the uplifting single, “Healing,” which not only reached the top of the gospel charts, but was also credited and awarded at the 2007 ASCAP Awards as one of the top five songs played across both R&B and Gospel genres during 2006.

After a long self-imposed hiatus to raise her children and spend more time with family Price returned to the music scene as an independent artist in 2011with the self-titled album KELLY which produced the garnered her 4 Grammy nominations for best R&B album, Best vocal performance for “Tired” and “Not My Daddy” and best R&B song for Not My Daddy. She followed up 2014 with Sing Pray Love: Sing Which produced the top 10 inspirational uptempo “It’s My Time.”
Along her journey, she’s collaborated with the likes of Mariah Carey, George Michael, Elton John, The Isley Brothers, The Clark Sisters, Brian McKnight and Sean “Diddy” Combs as well as Faith Evans, Yolanda Adams, Whitney Houston, Donnie McClurkin, Eric Clapton, Shirley Murdock, Shirley Ceasar, Fantasia, Jay-Z, Kanye West, DJ Khaled, Bonnie Raitt, the late James Brown and the list goes on and on. She’s also expanded her reach into fashion as a plus model for Lane Bryant, Ashley Stewart and is currently in production for her first clothing line for plus sized women. She has taken her talents to the screen and stage with roles in Soul Food the series, Bringing Down the House and the stage plays Why Did I Get Married? In 2005 Price lent her distinct speaking voice to The Bible Experience. In 2006 Price added the title of ‘self-published author’ to her resume with the release of the inspirational tome, Inscriptions of My Heart and is currently writing her memoir My Time To Shine: Life After Death Depression and Divorce.

In addition to her musical creative impact, Kelly Price’s philanthropic efforts have played an integral role in her life. Her commitment to the fight against breast cancer has been paramount. After learning that within two months of each other that both her mother and mother-in-law were diagnosed with the disease, it turned her world upside down and she vowed to actively support the fight and raise awareness. She took action when she co-wrote the song “Love Sets You Free” with Denise Rich and Teddy Riley. The duet with Aaron Hall was originally featured on the motion picture soundtrack for The Hurricane (1999), and was later remixed featuring several other Def Jam/Def Soul artists, with all of the proceeds being donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Additional proceeds went to Denise Rich’s Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, which was named after her late daughter. Within six months of the commercial release, the song raised over $250K, which was donated to both foundations and continues to do so today.​

After deadly Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017 Kelly quickly gathered friends for a benefit concert in Atlanta that would support 2 families directly that suffered total loss as a result of the storms. With less than 10 days of planning Kelly produced an event that placed 21 acts from around the country on one stage and raised 30k to help the families receive immediate relief.

Ever growing and ready for new ventures Kelly Price can currently be seen as a series regular for the critically acclaimed Drama American Soul now in its second season which tells the life story of the late Don Cornelius and how he launched the iconic television show and global brand “Soul Train”. Price has also been given the distinguished honor of joining the iconic panel of Judges for Sunday’s Best for the second time now in its 10th season. As the first R&B artist to hold this title the preacher’s kid from Queens continues to find ways to merge industry and ministry in her life and career.

Kelly Price is a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a grandmother (affectionately called GiGi) an author, motivational speaker, actress, producer, preacher, teacher, Psalmist and flat out SANGER! Most importantly she’s God’s girl and continues to seek ways to make him proud!