Tori Kelly

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Tori Kelly
Kelly in 2023
Victoria Loren Kelly

(1992-12-14) December 14, 1992 (age 31)[1]
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
Years active2003–present
André Murillo
(m. 2018)
Musical career
OriginCanyon Lake, California, U.S.
  • Vocals
  • guitar

Victoria Loren Kelly (born December 14, 1992) is an American singer-songwriter. She first gained recognition after posting videos on YouTube as a teenager, and made it through to Hollywood week on the ninth season of American Idol in 2010. Thereafter, she independently released her self-produced debut EP in 2012, Handmade Songs.

In 2013, after Scooter Braun became her manager, Kelly signed with Capitol Records. Her second EP and first major-label release, Foreword (2013), followed soon after. Kelly's debut studio album Unbreakable Smile (2015) peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States with its lead single, "Nobody Love", marking her first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Kelly was nominated for Best New Artist at the 58th Grammy Awards, and voiced Meena in the animated film Sing (2016), which she reprised in the 2021 sequel, Sing 2. Her second studio album Hiding Place (2018) peaked at number 35 on the Billboard 200 chart and received two Grammy Awards, for Best Gospel Album and Best Gospel Performance/Song, respectively. In 2019, Kelly released her third studio album Inspired by True Events, followed by her fourth studio album, A Tori Kelly Christmas, in 2020. After signing to Epic Records and Jon Bellion's Beautiful Mind, Kelly released an EP Tori (2023), closely followed by her fifth studio album, the Y2K-inspired Tori. (2024).

Life and career[edit]

Early life and career beginnings[edit]

Victoria Loren Kelly was born in Wildomar, California. Her father, Allwyn, is of Jamaican and Puerto Rican ancestry, while her mother, Laura, is of Irish and German descent.[3] She has a younger brother named Noah. Growing up, she was exposed to a variety of music by her parents. "I give them a lot of credit for just playing all different genres, and no genre was off limits," she said when asked about her upbringing. Kelly is a Christian. Faith plays a part in her songwriting, though she does not consider herself a part of the Christian music genre.[4][5] Kelly appeared on the show Star Search, but lost to vocalist Tiffany Evans, who won the title of Junior Champion in the junior singer division.

In 2004, she participated on America's Most Talented Kids, singing Christina Aguilera's "Keep on Singin' My Song" and won, beating out musician Hunter Hayes. She made a second appearance on the show in the Tournament of Champions, but lost to Antonio Pontarelli, a rock musician. At age twelve, Kelly accepted a record deal with Geffen Records, but both sides agreed to end the contract due to creative differences.[6] In 2007, Kelly began posting videos to YouTube, at the age of 14. The first video she uploaded was a cover of John Wesley Work Jr.'s "Go Tell It on the Mountain", which she originally performed back in December 2004. Kelly gained recognition for her acoustic cover, with a fellow YouTuber named Angie Girl, of Frank Ocean's "Thinkin Bout You".[7][8]

Despite failing to reach the top 24 on American Idol, she took a new tack in her music, learning how to play the guitar, composing original song pieces, and recording them herself on her computer. Tori began posting her performances on YouTube, and quickly reached over 1,000,000 subscribers.[9]

2010–2014: Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly and Foreword[edit]

Kelly performing in 2014

In 2010, Tori auditioned for Season 9 of American Idol in Denver, Colorado and made it through to Hollywood Week but did not reach the "Top 24" of the artists. She had claimed that she was 'devastated' but she had given it her all. Afterwards, she was asked to take part in a youth version of the 1985 charity song "We Are the World" titled "We Are the World: The Next Generation". On May 1, 2012, she released her first EP, titled Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly, which was released on her own label, Toraay Records. Kelly wrote, produced, engineered, and recorded the EP by herself in her bedroom. Shortly after its release, the EP made it to the Top 10 Pop Albums list on iTunes.[10] She called the EP a "warm up" to a full-length album that was to come in the future.[11] As of 2013, it had sold more than 14,000 copies and reached number nine on the US Heatseekers Albums chart.[12]

In February 2013, Kelly released a single called "Fill a Heart", which she wrote for the "Child Hunger Ends Here" campaign by ConAgra Foods and Feeding America. The song was later performed by British boy band The Wanted on Dancing With the Stars. Starting in April 2013, Kelly performed at eight venues across continental U.S. for her "Fill a Heart" tour, helping out at the cities' food banks during the day.[13] She has performed in venues such as the Troubador and the Roxy in Los Angeles, the Gramercy Theater in New York and Bush Hall in London. She has also been featured in magazines such as Teen Vogue, Elle and Glamour.[14]

During mid-2013, Kelly's newly assigned manager Scooter Braun introduced her to the heads of Capitol Records. She had been "very skeptical" about signing with a major record label in fear that things would not work out in her favor. "I'd been burned before. But when I met those guys, I had never felt that way: They were fans and really got me." On September 6, 2013, she was signed to Capitol Records.[12]

In September 2013, she was picked as Elvis Duran's Artist of the Month and was featured on NBC's Today show hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, where she performed her single "Dear No One". Kelly announced on The Today Show that her major label debut, a second EP, titled Foreword, would be released on October 22, 2013, on Capitol Records. By the end of November the EP had sold more than 16,000 copies, debuting at number 16 on the US Billboard 200.[15] Kelly was the sole supporting act to Ed Sheeran at Madison Square Garden on November 1, 2013, and supported Sam Smith on their In the Lonely Hour UK tour in October 2014.[16] Kelly wrote and recorded a song called "Silent" for The Giver: Music Collection, supporting the film adaptation (The Giver) of the novel The Giver, which was released on iTunes on August 5, 2014.[17] On August 7, 2014, Kelly posted a live acoustic version of the song on her YouTube channel; which has over 2.6 million views as of October 2015.[18] Kelly was featured on "Lullaby" by British rapper Professor Green, which was released in the United Kingdom on September 14, 2014.[19] The song peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart, thus providing Kelly with her first top ten song in the United Kingdom.[20]

Kelly was featured on the medley "Winter Wonderland"/"Don't Worry Be Happy" on Pentatonix's album That's Christmas to Me that was released in October 2014. On December 1, 2014, it was announced that Tori Kelly was one of MTV's Artist's To Watch. She privately performed two songs for MTV: "Funny" and "Dear No One"; both can be found on her Artist To Watch page.[21] Her "Funny" performance was aired on MTV for several weeks.

2015–2017: Unbreakable Smile and other projects[edit]

Throughout 2014, Kelly worked with Braun on her debut album in which she had contributions from Toby Gad, Max Martin, and Ed Sheeran.[22] The lead single from the album, "Nobody Love", was released on February 8, 2015. It was written by Rickard Goransson, Max Martin, and Tori Kelly herself.[23] Kelly performed "Nobody Love" at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards. The album, entitled Unbreakable Smile, was released on June 23, 2015,[24] and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200.[25] Kelly performed "Should've Been Us" at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.[26] In October 2015, Kelly covered the song "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas on the We Love Disney album.[citation needed] "Hollow" was released on October 22, 2015[27] as the first single from the new edition of Unbreakable Smile.[28] In the same month, Kelly became the brand-ambassador of William Rast, the clothing line co-founded by Justin Timberlake.[29] In late 2015, Kelly received a nomination for Best New Artist at the 58th Grammy Awards.[30] She performed at the ceremony with English singer James Bay.[31] She became the first artist in history to perform a Christian pop song at the Grammy Awards.

Kelly recorded an updated version of Amy Grant's 1991 single "Baby Baby", with Grant herself. Commemorating its 25th anniversary, when Kelly was still 23, the song was released on April 29, 2016.[32] Kelly made her cinematic debut in the animated film Sing (2016), voicing Meena the elephant.[33] On July 10, 2016, Kelly released an original song "Blink of an Eye" to honor her friend Christina Grimmie, on the one-month anniversary of her murder.[34]

Kelly at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016

On May 7, 2017, Kelly played the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, Tennessee opening for Soundgarden at what would be one of their final performances before frontman Chris Cornell died by suicide on May 17.[35] On June 9, Kelly and rapper Lecrae, released the single "I'll Find You", with Kelly as the featured artist. The accompanying music video was released on July 28, 2017. It features various St. Jude Hospital patients, and Kelly and Lecrae singing over a black backdrop. It peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart, No. 1 on the Hot Christian Songs and No. 17 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart. She also collaborated with country singer Chris Lane on his single "Take Back Home Girl" which has since charted at No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100.[36] In September 2017, Kelly announced her engagement to basketball player André Murillo.[37] In December 2017, She performed a memorable version of "Have yourself a Merry little Christmas" with Jacob Collier, posted on YouTube.

2018–2019: Hiding Place and Inspired by True Events[edit]

On March 30, 2018, Kelly released the single "Help Us to Love" featuring the HamilTones, which served as the lead single to her second studio album. On May 20, 2018, she announced her and Murillo's marriage in an Instagram post.[38] On August 23, Kelly revealed on her personal Instagram that her album, Hiding Place, would be released on September 14. The second single of the album, "Never Alone", was released on August 24. On September 7, Kelly announced a tour in support of the album.[39] Kelly later earned her first Grammy Awards with Hiding Place which won Best Gospel Album and Best Gospel Performance/Song with "Never Alone" from the 61st Annual Grammy Awards.

On January 18, 2019, Kelly announced that she would be going on The Acoustic Sessions tour starting in February. Tickets went on sale on January 25 along with the release of her new lead single "Change Your Mind" for her upcoming third studio album. On June 26, 2019, Kelly announced her third studio album Inspired by True Events which was released on August 9, 2019.[40]

2020–2022: A Tori Kelly Christmas, The Masked Singer, and other projects[edit]

Kelly announced the "Inspired by True Events Tour", which was to visit American and European cities, in October 2019. [41][42]

However, on December 18, 2019, Kelly announced that the tour would now only involve Europe, Australia, and Asia, with new dates added, and a quiet cancelation of the American leg of the tour. [43][44]

On March 18, 2020, Kelly canceled her remaining tour stops in Europe, Australia, and Asia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[45]

On March 21, 2020, Kelly began broadcasting a daily live stream on Instagram which she named "QuaranTEA with Tori." The show was hosted from her home where she sang fan-requested songs, answered fans' questions, and featured several celebrity guests to interview and duet with (remotely). The guests included AJ Rafael, Alessia Cara, David Archuleta, Demi Lovato, H.E.R., Jessie J, JoJo, Jordin Sparks, Kirk Franklin, Natasha Bedingfield, and many more. After 7 weeks, Kelly ended the show to work on new music.[46]

On July 22, 2020, Kelly released a cover of Drake's "Time Flies" as the first single of her EP Solitude. On August 11, three days before the EP's release, Kelly released "Unbothered" as the second single. Kelly released Solitude on August 14 which includes four original songs which she wrote while in quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic.[47] On July 30, 2020, Kelly was featured on Jacob Collier's "Running Outta Love" from his album Djesse Vol. 3.[48] A version for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert was released on August 3.[49]

On October 7, Kelly announced a Christmas album, A Tori Kelly Christmas, which was released on October 30. The album was produced by Babyface.[50][51] Two extra songs, including an original and a cover of "All I Want for Christmas Is You", were released as bonus tracks exclusively at Target.[52] In late 2020, Kelly also competed on season 4 of The Masked Singer as "Seahorse". Kelly made it to the semi-finals of the competition, before being unmasked in a triple elimination alongside Chloe Kim as "Jellyfish" and Taylor Dayne as "Popcorn".[53]

In 2021, Kelly recorded a cover of "Waving Through a Window" for the soundtrack album of the 2021 film adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen, produced by Justin Goldner.[54][55] On November 2, 2021, she published her first book, The Curly Girl Blues.[56] That same year, she reprised her role as Meena in Sing 2.

2023–present: New label signing and Tori.[edit]

In February 2023, Kelly performed a rendition of "Hallelujah" alongside Andrea Bocelli for Bocelli's music special The Journey: A Music Special from Andrea Bocelli.[57] On March 14, Kelly signed with Epic Records and released a new song, "Missin U", on March 17. The song samples 2000 single "Fill Me In" by Craig David.[58]

Moving into her new era of music, Kelly was inspired by the sound of R&B and hip-hop music from the 90s and mid-2000s. In writing "Missin U", she claimed that she "wanted to go back in time" and revisit sounds popularized by artists like Destiny's Child, Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, and TLC.[58]

On July 11, 2023, Kelly announced her fourth EP, titled Tori (stylized in lowercase). It was released on July 28, 2023, under Epic and singer-songwriter Jon Bellion’s record label Beautiful Mind.[59] After a deluxe reissue of the EP, she announced her fifth full-length project Tori., which was released on April 5, 2024. The album’s lead single "High Water" was released on February 9.

Personal life[edit]

Kelly married André Murillo, a professional basketball player in Germany, in 2018.[60]

On July 23, 2023, Kelly was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after collapsing at a restaurant in Los Angeles. Blood clots had been found in her legs and around her lungs.[61][62][63] On July 27, Kelly released a message stating that she felt better but was undergoing treatment.[64] On July 31, Kelly was discharged from the hospital.




  • Where I Belong Tour (2015)[65]
  • Unbreakable Tour (2016)
  • Hiding Place Tour (2018)[66]
  • The Acoustic Sessions Tour (2019)[67]
  • Take Control Tour (2023)
  • Purple Skies Tour (2024)




Year Title Role Notes
2016 Sing Meena Voice
2021 Sing 2
2022 Jerry & Marge Go Large Herself


Year Title Role Notes
2003 Star Search Herself Contestant
2004 America's Most Talented Kid
2010 American Idol Season 9
2016 The Voice Season 10 Battle Advisor for Team Adam Levine
The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 Sang "The Rainbow Connection" with Kermit the Frog
Beat Bugs Millie Pede Episode: 24b
Sesame Street Herself Sang "Try a Little Kindness"
2017–present Nationwide commercials[citation needed]
2020 The Disney Family Singalong Television special
The Masked Singer Herself (Seahorse) Season 4
2021 American Idol Herself/Mentor Season 19
The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo Herself Season 2, Episode 12
2022 Rugrats Cynthia Voice, episode: "Rescuing Cynthia"
2023[68] THE JOURNEY: A Music Special from Andrea Bocelli[69][70] Herself Sings various songs plus "Hallelujah" with Bocelli,[71][72] on this four-part series also re-edited into a full-length theatrical version

Awards and nominations[edit]

List of Tori Kelly awards
Award Wins Nominations
BET Awards
1 2
Billboard Music Awards
1 4
Billboard Women in Music
1 1
Glamour Awards
0 1
GMA Dove Awards
1 2
Grammy Award
2 5
MTV Europe Music Awards
0 3
People's Choice Awards
0 1
Radio Disney Music Awards
1 2
Soul Train Awards
0 2
Streamy Awards
0 1
Teen Choice Awards
0 2
VH1's Big Music in 2015
You Oughta Know
0 1
YouTube Music Awards
1 1
8 28

The following is a list of awards and nominations received by Tori Kelly.


Award Year[a] Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
BET Awards 2018 Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational I'll Find You (with Lecrae) Won [73]
2019 "Never Alone" (with Kirk Franklin) Nominated [74]
Billboard Music Awards 2018 Top Christian Song "I'll Find You" Nominated
2019 Top Gospel Artist Herself Nominated
Top Gospel Album Hiding Place Won
Top Gospel Song "Never Alone" (with Kirk Franklin) Nominated
2021 Top Christian Song "Together" Nominated
Billboard Women in Music 2015 Breakthrough Artist Herself Won [75]
Glamour Awards 2016 International Musician/ Solo Artist Herself Nominated [76]
GMA Dove Awards 2018 Song of the Year "I'll Find You" (with Lecrae) Nominated [77]
Short Form Video Of the Year Won
Grammy Awards 2016 Best New Artist Herself Nominated [78]
2019 Best Gospel Album Hiding Place Won [79]
Best Gospel Performance/Song "Never Alone" (with Kirk Franklin) Won
2022 Album of the Year Justice (as Featured Artist) Nominated
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album A Tori Kelly Christmas Nominated
MTV Europe Music Awards 2015 Best New Act Herself Nominated [81]
Best Push Act Nominated
Artist on the Rise Nominated
NAACP Image Awards 2019 Outstanding Gospel/Christian Album (Traditional or Contemporary) Hiding Place Nominated [82]
Outstanding Song – Traditional "Never Alone" Nominated
People's Choice Awards 2016 Favorite Breakout Artist Herself Nominated [83]
Radio Disney Music Awards 2016 Breakout Artist of the Year Herself Won [84]
Best Crush Song "Should've Been Us" Nominated
2018 Country Favorite Song "Take Back Home Girl" (with Chris Lane) Nominated [85]
Soul Train Music Awards 2018 Best Gospel/Inspirational Award Herself Nominated [86]
2019 Nominated [86]
Stellar Awards 2019 Female Vocalist of the Year Herself Nominated [87]
Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year Nominated
Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year "Never Alone" (featuring Kirk Franklin) Nominated
Streamy Awards 2015 Breakthrough Artist 1875 Herself Nominated [88]
Teen Choice Awards 2015 Choice Web Star: Music Herself Nominated [89]
2017 Choice Movie Actress: Comedy Herself Nominated [90]
VH1's Big Music in 2015: You Oughta Know 2015 Artist of the Year Herself Nominated [91]
YouTube Music Awards 2015 50 Artists to Watch Herself Won [92]


  1. ^ Indicates the year of ceremony. Each year is linked to the article about the awards held that year, wherever possible.


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External links[edit]