(Ring, Ring) "Bridget, its Hova. Gonna need you in London tonight."
Opportunity knocks when it's ready and presents itself, sometimes in the rarest forms. Bridget Kelly's road to the top might of had its challenges, but she was prepared to take the world head on while flashing her signature, infectious smile. My initial meeting with this striking songstress was just a mere glimpse of who she is and has set out to be.
Born in New York City, Bridget was raised in Chelsea's diverse neighborhood, never identifying herself as a singer. Growing up, music always filled the air, but was not genetically set for her. Her mom and dad, who were never affiliated with the entertainment industry, accidentally stumbled upon her rare talent during a family road trip. Her rendition to Lauryn Hill's 1995 remake of "Killing Me Softly" made it clear that her 10-year-old voice was ready for a bigger stage than their back seat.
Her gift was a top priority: "My dad signed me up for our local church choir immediately. We didn't even go to Church, but he was sure to get me in there. He insisted on their structure and dedication to music."
Her musical connection came full circle when auditioning for high school. Without hesitation, she took me back to the day she auditioned for the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts in Manhattan. Auditioning was the least of her problems, as she expressed the diverse social issues she faced regarding race and genres. Even amongst all the drama, this was where she musically felt at home and creatively developed. She finally found a place where she could identify with her gift and was respected for her drive. Academics came natural to this young scholar, as she kept a tight fist on her emerging musical career. She said: "They allowed me the freedom I needed and I finally allowed myself to spiritually grow."
Even after finding herself surrounded by so much talent, Bridget still felt out of place: "I wasn't church enough for the choir kids, black enough or white enough for the racial cliques... I was finally inspired, but still felt that my style kept me isolated." High school provided nothing to Bridget other than an outlet to develop her core talent and increase her hunger for stardom, so this young student released her college fund to her mom and rejected a potential diploma in favor of the unknown. "Music is what kept me in high school, that's it. I knew regardless what I did, music was my calling!"
Popular college-themed blockbusters graced cinema screens, and the itch to attend a university bit our inspired artist. A short-lived campus struggle in the New School jazz program set the realization that structured education was not a good fit, and the journey to become relevant began. Late-night jobs, followed by late-night commutes, were common as she fought to discover her calling. Swallowing her pride led her back home, when word got back to Bridget's mom that she was spotted sleeping on the subway platform. The separation from her parents became a huge void after losing her father to a harsh liver cancer diagnosis. Always keeping music first, she recalls her last promise to her father: "I told him that I would make something of myself, and after he passed, I was not going to disappoint him."
With her song of promise playing in her heart, Bridget never allowed her mind to drift. Completely focused, she took her voice to the streets. The streets of New York City were coated with opportunities and people desperately eager to make it. During her short career in retail, Bridget started to place key people in her life. Alaska Gedeon playing a crucial role professionally and personally. While working to make a name for him, Alaska made Bridget his top priority. Building her brand and sound made their relationship surpass basic, and exceed to extraordinary. Quickly developing a sibling bond, he sought his sights on building her career and pushed the limit straight to the top.
From interviews, auditions and stages, Bridget was now focusing on herself: "I was that girl on the subway performing cover songs with a mic and speaker." With memories of her dream team BK recalls: "Alaska, Kim and Eddie worked their asses off. We would be anywhere and everywhere trying to get exposed. I performed in the Village underground, Joe's Pub, subway platforms... anywhere." Recording also played a huge role, while exposing Bridget's talent. Laughing as she took me back memory lane, Bridget mentions: "We were no joke. Alaska had me in basements with a down comforter draped over a door. Seriously from the last train stop in Carnarsie to friend's studios, we were putting it in."
Hard work paid off when buzz of an emerging Roc Nation started to swirl. Although hesitant, Bridget accepted the game changing interview with Jay Brown. After hearing her music, Brown instantly loved what she had to offer. Next, a fresh-faced Bridget sat with the budding executive and took her first step in the Roc family. With her second interview came the chilling duty to perform: "They asked me to go in the booth and sing anything. So I did! I sang for 45 minutes straight until he stopped me!" Weeks after, her confident audition drifted, and she continued to perform, write and wait. Early drops of rain were the only thing between Bridget and Alaska the morning she found out she was signed to Roc Nation. Alaska delivered the news minutes before she rushed to work as a trainer at Equinox, allowing some time to celebrate.
Founded in 2008, Roc Nation still had a lot to figure out. Leaving BK in the dark for almost a year, she remembers the few career highlights that came and went: "I sang background vocals for Flo Rida on the Today show. " Just a shoulder shrug away from her ah-ha moment, she says: "I wasn't working yet, still just in the dark. One day I worked at the gym, then sat at dinner with Bono, Jay Z and Bill Clinton at the Spotted Pig... It was very surreal."
Now almost a year without a single, video or album she was ready for her debut. Due to circumstances in her favor, Bridget was called-upon for another background vocal gig. This one was much bigger, and ultimately worth the wait. Blinded by the magnitude of that performance, BK memorized lyric after lyric. Initial excitement filled her soul when the mention of her idol, Alicia Keys was mentioned: "I was asked to sing this new song, that up till that point no one ever heard! I didn't think anything of it. Until I showed up to Madison Square Garden and was told I was actually A. Keys' stand in! Then I died!"
With luck on her side, the notorious pianist was held by contract to sing her signature New York-inspired song at the VMA's, leaving the Friday performance to Bridget Kelly and Jay Z himself. Three days prior to releasing the Empire State anthem, Bridget stood on the legendary stage in front of 30,000 people and poured her soul into her verse. With all eyes on this mysterious diva, the audience was left in silence, with no room for sing-a-longs, just undivided attention. Meanwhile, backstage was celebrity-studded, and they one-by-one acknowledged the flawless effort of this rookie. Publicly performing "Empire State of Mind" stood Brooklyn's idol and Chelsea's sweetheart. The Fuse channel aired this special concert series for the 9/11 firemen's friends and family, and Bridget had her first career accomplishment.
As she unfolds layers, her journey becomes more compelling, and her passion bursts when speaking about the call she received while on the clock at the gym: "London!"
The MTV Video Music Awards aired just days after her MSG performance, and Bridget had everyone curious who Jay's new artist was. 48 hours gave Alicia enough time to hit chart topping status, and Bridget now was a hot commodity. Battling personal concerns was the least of BK's problems, Jay was urgently calling her to perform as Cold Play's opening act, meanwhile our native New Yorker was stumped. Within 20 minutes of his initial call, Bridget exposed her secret talent to her co-workers by youtubing her MSG performance, quitting her job and accepting her new passport and international working papers. "I stood there in Pilates pants thinking This is finally it!"
Scared and nervous, Bridget arrived in London and took her first step onto the soccer field that was expected to house 80,000 adoring fans that night. Her dear friend, Alaska, joined her minutes before she took the stage and blew crowd goers' minds. Finalizing her chorus, Jay Z turned and introduced Bridget to London and invited her on his next five week tour.
Finally comfortable in the spotlight, BK turned to Jay and requested some time to find her voice. Immediately pulling her off the tour, she was sent to Los Angeles to start recording with an incredibly productive writing camp. Still not comfortable with the R&B sound, Bridget tried to stay close to her initial choice. Mimicking Alanis & Pink's punk-pop sound did not carry as successful as her soul tone, so unpaid and struggling, Bridget's curiosity led her to question this decision. After Frank Ocean aired "Thinking about Forever," which was originally written for BK, she took a step back. Bridget boldly stated: "I stopped at that moment to be what everyone wanted. I had just spent the last year of my life trying to get over shit, including my relationship, career, life, and, as a woman, I was tested. It was my turn to do something different." And she so cleverly named her new album just that.
Releasing her new EP on December 10 exclusively via Spotify, and on December 17, via Bridget Kelly's website, this should whet the appetite of eager fans hungry for new music. This singer/songwriter has no plans on settling. As Jay Z patiently pushes her to reach deeper and higher, this supportive mentor will not allow her to settle. He demands the best from his artist, leaving us anticipating an explosive first full all BK album. As she raises her wine glass for a final toast to her career, she mentioned how she is not looking to explode, but rather come out with soulful, meaningful music that people can relate too: "I'm leaving my mark, as I promised, I will not settle, nor should my fans expect me too. I'm here to deliver."
First on the scene to sing praise to the jungle that nurtured her sound, Bridget Kelly has guaranteed she's not only ready to rock our nation, but surpass the expectations of music's most influential King.
Want more Bridget? Follow her on: