By Amanda Wicks for

YouTube and American Idol have been introducing talented young singers to the world for what seems like ages. Many a modern day success story has started out with either of the platforms. Yet, where YouTube and American Idol might have helped increase Tori Kelly‘s exposure, it was her 2015 debut LP Unbreakable Smile that made the pop singer a household name.

Not only did Kelly launch her headlining tour for the album in September, but she garnered a GRAMMY nod as well. Nominated for Best New Artist, Kelly proved she has the chops necessary to not only make it but also stand out among her pop vocal contemporaries.

Speaking with this summer, Kelly explained her most personal songs. “There’s definitely me in every song,” she said. “I mean I connect to every single song, but there are certain songs that I just wrote by myself, and then there’s songs where…there’s some love songs on there, but I think the ones that hit me most personally are the rejection songs of my journey as an artist, and being told that you’re not good enough at such a young age, and just things not working out in my music career. So those are the ones where that’s the type of stuff that can only come from me. Anyone can write a love song, but it’s like the ones that I’m actually telling my story, I think those hit really hard for me.”

Besides her songwriting, which takes on the modern day highs and lows of love, success and more through a pop/R&B lens, her vocals are her calling card. She’s earned comparisons to big vocalists like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and other reigning ’80s and ’90s divas, and for good reason. At the ripe old age of 23, Kelly is a seasoned veteran.


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