Those are the words Kelly Price chooses to describe herself, her talent. When you listen, closely, to her songs, it‘s evident that she writes and sings from her soul. It‘s a place she‘s come to know quite well. ―Music saved my life,‖ she says. ―Writing has been like therapy; it‘s the most incredible gift.‖
At this juncture, Kelly Price has learned to loosen the reins on her creativity. Sure, she still reaches for a pen- and-pad and rattles off lyrics into her Dictaphone, but she‘s also learning to be more patient, allowing the songs to reveal themselves. Sometimes, the words will come. Other times, she‘ll hear the song as a fully-orchestrated composition. Either way, the results of her efforts are illustrated beautifully, truthfully, on her new album entitled, simply, Kelly (Sang Girl/My Block Records).
Completely independent of the major label ―machine,‖ it‘s through her own Sang Girl label and musical partnership and joint venture with producer Warryn Campbell‘s My Block Records, that Kelly Price delivers her most honest and transparent work to date. Featuring her expressive songwriting and backed by the production talents of Campbell, Shep Crawford, Jazz Nixon, Stokley Williams (featuring Mint Condition), as well as musician Dontae Winslow, Kelly Price is determined to do it her way this time around.
Leading the album out of the gate is the spirited single, ―Tired,‖ which recently received a 2011 GRAMMY® nomination in the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category. Produced by Shep Crawford and inspired by a creative heart-to-heart she shared with fellow musician and past collaborator, R. Kelly, the song sheds light on the social ills that not only cause her distress, but also seem to be plaguing our world community. Even before she starts running down the list of things that consume her thoughts – from guilty feelings and broken dreams to baby mommas and ghetto dramas – you‘ll know where she‘s heading from the opening verse…
there’s a hole in my heart, my soul is bleeding I need to free my mind,
and say what I’m feeling ‘cause Lord knows…I’m tired.
The follow-up single is the Stokley Williams—produced duet, ―Not My Daddy,‖ which is an action call for couples to make a strong effort to let love back into the relationship. You can‘t help but feel the emotions through the vocal synergy Kelly Price and Stokley command on this compelling track. The song asserts, ―You‘re not my Daddy, you‘re my man and I think it‘s time you understand. So just make me happy if you can.‖
―This song literally wrote itself, which happens to me every once in a while,‖ Kelly Price explains. ―The melody came to me first and then I envisioned a live-music feel to impact my audience and that‘s when I called up Stokley. We made this song to encourage lovers to get back to being lovers. Stop parenting one another and just love each other. Period!‖
On the touching ballad, ―I‘m Sorry (My Apology),‖ also produced by Crawford, Kelly Price sings of the freedom that comes from practicing the art of forgiveness. The song takes off where her gospel hit, ―Healing,‖ left off four years earlier. ―We always hear about why it‘s important to forgive other people, but so many times we continue to punish ourselves for [having made] bad decisions,‖ she notes. ―I believe that God is displeased when we‘re so hard on ourselves.‖ When she closes with, I wrote this song to say that I love me…and I forgive me, perhaps you‘ll consider releasing some of your past shame. That was her intention.
Speaking of letting go, she joined forces with Warryn Campbell to create the ever-candid testimonial, ―The Rain.‖ Originally slated for inclusion on the motion picture soundtrack for the Oscar-nominated film, Precious, Kelly Price later snagged the song for herself. Having weathered her share of personal storms – think family tensions, homelessness, molestation, body image issues and teenage pregnancy – the lyrics were drawn from her strength and ability to overcome. With ―HimAholic,‖ produced by Jazz Nixon, she breaks down what it means and how it really feels to be addicted to a relationship that‘s just no good. You know, the type that you can‘t seem to shake, no matter how insane the circumstances? We‘ve all been there. ―I just wanted to make sure the message was relatable,‖ admits Price.
Other signature titles on Kelly include: ―Get Right or Get Left‖ and ―A Little Something, Something‖— both are reminiscent of the ballads of yesteryear. There is also the groove infused mid-tempo ―Feels So Good‖ and the light up-tempo flow of the Warryn Campbell-produced ―And U Don‘t Stop.‖ It‘s a new direction for Kelly Price and she seems to like it. ―I love a good, party record, but I still feel like I need to sing it. Up-tempos have been challenging for me in the past because I knew that nobody would believe me singing ̳bubble gum.‘ I don‘t believe me singing ̳bubble gum‘,‖ she laughs, ―but this song worked.‖
The second of three daughters, Kelly Price was raised in Queens, New York, in the church. That‘s where her musical roots were planted, and tended to, early on. It‘s where, as a two-year-old, she began singing in the children‘s choir, where she sang her first solo at three and was fittingly-blessed with the moniker, Little Mahalia—a nickname given to her by teachers in elementary school after hearing her sing for the first time. ―I grew up in a family full of singers and musicians. Everybody in my family wrote songs and played one or more instruments. Being raised in a ―strict, old- school Pentecostal‖ household, she was restricted her from wearing jewelry, make-up and pants (long skirts were the preference). But like most creative spirits, Price was destined to soar far beyond her point of origin. And so, she has.
1998 saw the release of her double-platinum debut, Soul of a Woman, which featured the record-breaking single, ―Friend of Mine.‖ The song made history as the first to garner the #1 spot on the singles chart without an accompanying video clip, a rare feat during the era when music videos were the driving force of popular culture. She returned to center stage three years later with the platinum-plus seller, Mirror, Mirror, led by her remake of the R&B classic, ―As We Lay,‖ and followed up with the gold-selling holiday collection, One Family: A Christmas Album in 2001. Three years after releasing Priceless (April, 2003), she returned to her roots for This Is Whom I Am, a live gospel album recorded at her church home in Long Island. The album included the uplifting single, ―Healing,‖ which not only reached the top of the gospel charts, but was also credited and awarded at the 2007 ASCAP Awards as one of the top five songs played across both R&B and Gospel genres during 2006.
Along her journey, she‘s collaborated with the likes of Mariah Carey, George Michael, Elton John, The Isley Brothers, Brian McKnight and Sean ―Diddy‖ Combs as well as Faith Evans, Whitney Houston, Donnie McClurkin, Eric Clapton, Shirley Murdock and the late James Brown. She‘s also expanded her reach as a model for Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart and taken her talents to the screen and stage with roles in Soul Food, the series, Bringing Down the House and the stage plays Why Did I Get Married? and The Bible Experience. In 2005, she added the title of ̳self-published author‘ to her resume with the release of the inspirational tome, Inscriptions of My Heart. The audio book is currently in the works.
In addition to her musical impact, Kelly Price‘s philanthropic efforts have played an integral role in her life. Her commitment to the fight against breast cancer has been paramount. After learning that within two months of each other that both her mother and mother-in-law were diagnosed with the disease, it turned her world upside down and she vowed to actively support the fight and raise awareness. She took action when she co-wrote the song ―Love Sets You Free‖ with Denise Rich and Teddy Riley. The duet with Aaron Hall was originally featured on the motion picture soundtrack for The Hurricane (1999), and was later remixed featuring several other Def Jam/Def Soul artists, with all of the proceeds being donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Additional proceeds went to Denise Rich’s Gabrielle‘s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, which was named after her late daughter. Within six months of the commercial release, the song raised over $250K, which was donated to both foundations and continues to do so today.
There‘s no denying that music is where Kelly Price‘s heart resides, always. With the release of Kelly, one might wonder what she hopes to accomplish this go ̳round. ―When I was growing up, I‘d put on a record and let it play until the needle lifted,‖ she remembers, fondly. ―My goal for this project was to create a contemporary R&B album that you can listen to without skipping a single song, whether you‘re cleaning the house or driving up the coast. Hopefully, I got it right…I think I did.‖
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