Simon Cowell once described the Californian musician’s voice as “almost annoying.” Now, she’s a two-time Grammy winner headlining her very own international tour—and she’s heading to Manila this April.
It’s a confetti moment for Tori Kelly all right. The American singer-songwriter, 27, took almost a decade to get recognized by the musical institution that is the Grammys, when she won two awards last year—Best Gospel Album for her sophomore album Hiding Place, and Best Gospel Performance/Song for her single, Never Alone, at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. “I can’t believe all the amazing things I’ve gotten to do and the people I’ve gotten to meet along the way!” Tori says. “I’m so thankful for the ups and downs that got me to where I am today.”
Like many artists, however, the road to success was not easy for Tori Kelly. In 2010, the hopeful 17-year-old Californian auditioned for American Idol but failed to reach the top. Even Idol judge and English television personality Simon Cowell described her voice as “almost annoying.”
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t take Simon’s comment to heart because I was just so happy to have made it through to the next round,” Tori says, referring to Simon’s comment on her voice during the initial round of the auditions when she performed a rendition of John Mayer’s Gravity. “I was, however, extremely heartbroken when I got cut from the show.”
And that was it for her on Idol, but not the world. Tori then “turned [her] sadness into drive and motivation” when she started posting her original handmade music and song covers on YouTube. In the advent of aspiring musicians sharing their craft on the internet during those years, it was difficult to stay afloat of her fellow equally talented YouTubers especially in the cut-throat, fast-paced music industry. Yet she managed to be a standout, eventually signing with major American label Capitol Records in 2013.
Look at her now—two Grammys, two extended plays and three albums later, Tori is still getting paper. In fact, she is headlining her very own international tour for her third album, Inspired By True Events. “It was by far the most vulnerable I have ever been in my music,” Tori says. “[I]t’s centered around a chapter of my life that was very difficult at times and there were so many emotions involved.” She is heading to Manila for her first-ever concert this coming April 20.
Asked what she would say to young Tori, she says, “I would tell my younger self to just keep working hard and practicing your craft because it’ll pay off one day.” That one day has come, progressing at a delirious pace that is really proving to be a dream come true. With all the things going her way, we wonder, what’s next for Tori? “I’ve already started writing again, but after [the] tour I think I’ll have a better idea of how I want the next album to sound like,” she says.
It’s a confetti moment for Tori Kelly, all right, and she’s living for right now.
Catch the Tori Kelly: Inspired by True Events Tour in Manila on April 20, 2020 at the New Frontier Theater, presented by MMI Live. For show tickets and information, you may visit mmilive.com and its social accounts.