As a fan who has witnessed Tori Kelly grow from a girl singing covers on YouTube to seeing her name in lights above Brixton Academy brought a sense of pride. Finally, she’s made it.
Born and raised in California, USA, Tori appeared on various talent shows as a child such as Star Search and America’s Most Talented Kid. At 16, she auditioned for American Idol only to be rejected by Simon Cowell who described her voice as “almost annoying”. She didn’t give up.
Kelly persevered and continued to make YouTube videos whereby she took popular songs and created acoustic guitar covers. Despite the exposure that she got on TV, the power of the Internet is where fame found her in the form of a man named Scooter Braun. Some of you may know Scooter as the man who discovered and signed Justin Bieber. It would have been hard to not stumble across her videos on YouTube as her most popular cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’ now has 24 million views. Braun became her manager and signed her to Capitol Records in 2013. Tori produced two EP’s which were very successful and this eventually lead to the release of her debut album in 2015 called “Unbreakable”.
Tori Kelly – Thinkin Bout You Acoustic Cover
Much to her devoted fans delight, Tori announced a tour. She came to Brixton Academy on 26th February 2016 and to summarise, she smashed it. Promptly on stage at 9pm, Tori received an almighty welcome from the crowd until she slowly silenced their cheers with her choice of weapon, an acoustic guitar. She opened with a song off of her album called “Where I Belong” whereby the first verse acted as a perfect opening to the show, “I’m just a girl with her guitar, trying to give you my whole heart”. And this she certainly did. Tori continuously wowed the audience with hit after hit like “Nobody Love”, “Dear No one”, “Shoulda Been Us”, “All in my Head” and “Confetti”. Sticking to the foundations of her success, Kelly delighted her fans with some of her most popular YouTube covers. As well as the Frank Ocean cover, she also performed Justin Timberlake and Jay Z’s “Suit and Tie” and Michael Jackson’s “PYT”.
Another unexpected delight from the show was her support act, Samm Henshaw. Sam is a 22 year old from South London who was signed to Columbia Records in 2015. In the same year, he made his first EP titled “The Sound Experiment”. Having never heard Samm’s music before the gig, as soon as he started singing, he had my attention.
Samm Henshaw – Better
His voice is incredibly soulful yet there is nothing old about him. Even his band were cool. Then they played a song called “Better”. I was sold. The first thing I did when I left the show was download his EP and it’s been on repeat ever since. Definitely one to watch!
Overall, witnessing Tori singing live highlighted her vocal talent. There were moments where even the crowd were shocked at her range as she switched from falsetto to belting out the notes in which she received additional applause. She is what the music industry lacks at this current time. She is a young woman who writes her own music, plays an instrument, has an incredible voice whilst having huge success without having to adhere to being overtly sexual in order to reach stardom. Definitely a role model figure. The future is bright for this superstar in the making.