From writing her first song at age 12 to being named Breakthrough Artist at the 2015 Billboard Women in Music Awards, Tori Kelly has had a long road to success. In a new video released today to promote her upcoming campaign as American Express UNSTAGED’s latest Artist in Residence, she details part of the journey that got her to this point.
“I had gone through the ringer as far as the music industry goes, and I was just bummed that no one was getting my vision, so I just felt alone,” she says, reflecting on getting signed at age 12, learning guitar at age 15 and being set adrift as an artist without a defined sound. “And YouTube came at the perfect time.”
Kelly parlayed viral videos on YouTube into a record deal with Capitol and has landed three songs on the Hot 100 in the past year, with her major label debut, Unbreakable Smile, arriving at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart last summer.
“For the 2016 American Express Artists in Residence Program we partnered with Tori Kelly as she truly aligns with Amex’s ‘Journey’ narrative — supporting artists and Card Members on their journey,” says Walter Frye, Vice President, Global Experiential Marketing, American Express, in a statement to Billboard. “We were attracted to her unique musical journey, dynamic and soulful spirit and knew we could leverage our story-telling abilities to help her connect with fans on a deeper level.”
Check out Tori Kelly’s journey in the video above.