Childhood & Early Life
Victoria Loren "Tori" Kelly was born on December 14, 1992, in Wildomar, California, to Allwyn and Laura Kelly. Her father is half Jamaican and half Puerto Rican, while her mother is half Irish and half German. She has a younger brother named Noah.
She came from a family with background in music. Even though her father is a construction worker, he can sing and play bass. Her mother is a good keyboard artist and saxophone player.
Thanks to her parents, she grew up listening to different types of music as a child. She listened to gospel and was influenced by pop and R&B music. Early on, singers like Crystal Lewis, Jill Scott, Jeff Buckley, and Maxwell influenced her a lot.
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With the ambition to be a singer, she took part in the television show 'Star Search' in 2003. The next year, she became a contestant on 'America's Most Talented Kids'. She won the tournament and signed a record deal with Geffen Records. However, she didn't release any music from there due to conflict of ideas.
8Tori Kelly's initial attempt at creating music and building a fan base started in 2007 when she was only 14 years old. She started to record her songs on her computer and released them on YouTube. She started with cover versions of popular songs, among which the cover of Frank Ocean's 'Thinkin Bout You' made her very popular.
In 2010, after she failed to make into the 'Top 24' in 'American Idol', she focused on creating her first EP, 'Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly', which was released on May 1, 2012, from her own label, Toraay Records. She not only wrote the songs, but also recorded and produced the album.
Her next single came in February 2013, when she released the song 'Fill a Heart', that she wrote for the 'Child Hunger Ends Here' campaign by ConAgra Foods and Feeding America. She also went on a tour titled 'Fill a Heart' tour to help the campaign. The British boy band 'The Wanted' later performed the song on 'Dancing with the Stars'.
In 2013, after watching YouTube videos of her songs, Scooter Braun became her manager and helped her sign a deal with Capitol Records. Kelly, who had previously signed an unfruitful deal with Geffen Records, was skeptical about another deal, but the fact that the producers were her fans put her at ease.
Soon after, on October 22, 2013, she released her second EP, 'Foreword', from Capitol Records. It ranked 16 on the US 'Billboard' 200 after its release.
In November 2013, she performed as the sole supporting act to Ed Sheeran at Madison Square Garden. A year later, she also supported Sam Smith on his 'In the Lonely Hour' UK tour.
The 2014 film, 'The Giver', featured the song 'Silent' which she wrote and recorded specifically for the soundtrack of the movie. The live acoustic version of the song that she posted on her YouTube channel has received over 4.5 million views so far.
Her first British top ten hit was the song 'Lullaby', for which she collaborated with British rapper Professor Green. The song was released in UK on September 14, 2014, and ranked number four on the 'UK Singles Chart'.
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In late 2014, she was featured as one of MTV's 'Artist's To Watch'. She also performed two songs for MTV, 'Funny' and 'Dear No One'.
On February 8, 2015, she released the song, 'Nobody Love', which was the lead single from her debut album 'Unbreakable Smile'. The album itself was released on June 23, 2015, and featured artists like Ed Sheeran. The lyrics for the album were penned by, among others, Max Martin and Kelly herself. The album was re-issued on January 29, 2016, and contained two additional tracks, 'Hollow' and 'Something Beautiful'.
In 2016, she voiced Meena the elephant in the movie 'Sing'. Most recently, she has released the original song 'Blink of an Eye' as a tribute to fellow musician and friend Christina Grimmie, on the one month anniversary of her killing during a meet and greet.
Despite the fact that her very first EP, 'Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly', was not released from any major record label, it found a place in the 'Top 10 Pop Albums' list on iTunes. Later, it also ranked 9 on the US Heatseekers Albums chart.
Her debut album 'Unbreakable Smile' impressed critics who praised it for its lyrics and vocals. The album debuted at number two on the 'Billboard' 200, and sold 75,000 copies in the first week.
Personal Life & Legacy
Tori Kelly, who has collaborated with Ed Sheeran multiple times, is often linked to the British artist. However, in an interview with 'Seventeen' magazine, she made it clear that while she considers him to be a friend and mentor, their relationship is strictly professional. She is currently single.
Her mother supports her during her shows and tours. She is very close to her younger brother Noah and post pictures together on social media. She is a devout Christian.