Hey guys, welcome back to another episode of ONKEN RADIO, the podcast where I bring you inspiring guests to dive underneath the hood of the creative entrepreneur lifestyle to bridge the gap between art, commerce, and inspiration.
Do you have big dreams for your creative career, but you're not sure where to start? My guest today knows all about starting from the ground up, and you're not going to want to miss her journey to becoming a musical sensation.
Today, I have the pleasure of bringing you one of the most talented musicians in the business: Tori Kelly. There are very few musicians that I could just sit back and listen to for hours on end, but Tori is definitely one of them. The first time I heard her perform live, I was completely mesmerized.
On top of her musical talent, Tori also has some great advice for developing your creative career and drawing inspiration for your art, so let's get into it!
Who Is Tori Kelly?
Tori Kelly is an incredible singer-songwriter currently on the rise toward immense success and acclaim. If you haven't already heard her voice, you have got to check out her performance of "Rocket" on my show. Her voice is absolutely captivating, and I never get tired of hearing it. It's no wonder how she's accumulated such a wide fan base over the years.
Tori started her music career at a young age. She was featured on the shows Star Search and America's Most Talented Kids and was signed with the record label Geffen Records when she was only 12. After working with the company for over a year without releasing an album or an extended play (a.k.a an EP), Tori split with the label.
Tori's split turned out to be a great move for developing her creativity. After claiming her independence, she discovered her passion for writing her own songs:
"That's like when I discovered songwriting because now I had something to say. ... I was bummed, but at the same time now I had … a little bit of hurt to be able to write a song. … It's so cliché, but literally everything happens for a reason. And that was a really defining moment in my career."
- Tori Kelly
Since her split with Geffen Records, Tori has released two successful EP — one self-released EP and one through Capitol Records — and has cultivated a growing following through social media. After recording this episode of ONKEN RADIO, Tori went on to release three studio albums and was featured in the film Sing. Tori also won two Grammy awards and a Billboard Music Award for her album Hiding Place.
Whether or not you're a creative professional, you're not going to want to miss Tori's journey and what she's learned in her rise to stardom. Her advice for living in the moment and being passionate about what you do is something that we should all strive for!
When I first heard Tori’s voice, I was mesmerized and I still am. I have a very short attention span with singer-songwriters, but Tori is one that I could listen to for hours. You’ll get to hear her sing an exclusive little diddy on today’s episode!
Developing a Fan Base
Tori's musical career largely began on social media. Even though she had been previously signed with Geffen Records, she started from the ground up after leaving the company. She started accumulating listeners through posting song covers on Myspace and YouTube.
"It didn't get crazy amount of views. It was like a slow build, but something about being able to create something. And even though it wasn't my own song, just being able to post something that I did and kind of that sense of freedom, like I could do this, and people are actually going to watch it."
- Tori Kelly
Tori felt empowered by drawing in listeners through social media rather than a record label. This time around, everything was in her control, and while the numbers were small at first, the views kept growing. She slowly developed a social media following:
"That kind of started the chain of gaining these YouTube followers and subscribers.