R&B Bridgez: The Anniversary of Kelly Price

Kelly Price is celebrating her 25 Anniversary in the business. As her first professional engagement was with the late George Michael at Madison Square Garden in January 1992.

Kelly Price, the Daughter of the late Rev. Joseph Price and Evangelist Claudia Price is the 2nd of three children born and raised in Queens, NY. Under the watchful eye of her mother and the pastorate of her grandparents Bishop Jerome and Evangelist Joni Norman Kelly was nurtured and developed spiritually by being taught the word of God and the importance of a sustained prayer life through the special prayer services her grandfather held weekly in addition to Sunday services and bible study. It was there at an early age in Full Gospel Mission COGIC that the many gifts deeply rooted inside of her were watered and began to grow. It was there that her inner senses were awakened to the very real existence of God as more than just a higher power or an answer to the question “how did we all get here?

At an early age Kelly‘s musical talents began to dominate her life. While most babies have to be taken from the crib and calmed from crying in the middle of the night, Ms Price‘s mother has been noted telling of the times when the entire house would be awakened at the sound of a young Kelly singing out in her crib while the rest of the family tried to sleep. As a young child Kelly knew that music was more than just something that happened on the radio, in church, or even during the commercials on TV. For her it was a part of life that quickly became a necessity for life. She became emotionally dependent on the music inside of her and quickly learned how to use the music as an outlet to express what she was feeling even when she couldn’t speak about it. One day after experiencing deep sadness from a book she read for a black history project in school, Kelly wrote a song to express her un-explainable emotions. This was her first song. She was 7 years old.

Kelly sang on her first recording before the age of 10 and by the time she was 18 Kelly was recording and touring the world with multi-platinum pop diva Mariah Carey. Always a quick study, Kelly watched and learned the intricacies of studio and production work and soon after began to expand into areas other than just background singing. It is these early years of her professional career that Kelly refers to as her formal education. While her classmates attended college to prepare for their careers she went to work everyday and studied with the entertainment industry’s best to prepare for what would soon be her own amazing career.

Kelly has shared her multiple musical gifts with many artists and reached the number #1 spot on Billboard several times before anyone even knew what the girl behind the voice and the pen looked like.

Ronald Isley sponsored Kelly‘s first album, Soul of A Woman, in 1997 on Island Records. Kelly is credited with helping to “usher in the rebirth of the Gospel sound in mainstream and R&B music.” One of her own songs that she wrote on this album, Friend of Mine, was extremely popular. Out of the box she broke chart records by reaching Billboards top spot twice with the same song all done without the benefit of a music video.

Living up to its title, Soul of A Woman delved deep into the collective heart, soul and mindset of the female gender, while leaving much of the feminine mystique intact. Of course, as the album’s dominant composer and co-producer, each song reflected Kelly‘s insights, philosophies and life experiences.

Price‘s pure soul voice is an emotional cauldron, boiling over with innovative power and primal passion. The pain, promised and anticipated pleasure of real and fantasy male/female relationships is the universal theme at the heart of her stellar debut album.

In addition to the hit-bound “Friend Of Mine” (produced by Stevie J and J Dub), other outstanding cuts included: “Don’t Say Goodbye,” a powerful ballad of extreme emotion “Your Love,” a substantive uptempo track (produced by Kelly and Sean Smith); “You Complete Me,” featuring guest vocals from it’s co-writer/producer112‘s Darren Jones; “HER,” another mind-blowing Kelly Price showstopper; and “Just One More Time,” a sizzling duet with R. Kelly.

Lord Of All,” the album’s lone gospel song reflects Kelly‘s intention to present 360 creative degrees of herself. “In building the album I tried to show every side of me,” Kelly stated, born and still based in Jamaica, Queens. “You see musically my background started in church. My mother was the musical director, and my grandfather was pastor. So putting a gospel song on my album was in tribute to them, and, of course, because of my firm belief that if not for the grace of God, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

The assistance of a Higher Power can’t be denied, but getting to where she is today also took a lot of personal hard work. Not surprisingly Kelly was ready for the challenge. In 1992, five years before embarking on the Soul of A Woman project, Kelly began building an impressive reputation as one of the industry’s best and most in demand back up singers, songwriters and vocal arrangers.

Without exaggeration Kelly‘s industry credentials are extremely impressive. For four years she worked in the studio and on stage singing for Mariah Carey. Among Kelly‘s long list of accomplishments include backup vocals, live performances and/or writing songs for Puff Daddy, The Isley Brothers, Notorious B.I.G., Brandy, SWV, Mona Lisa, 112, Dymon, Brian McKnight, Jesse Powell, Tasha Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Ronald Isley & Angela Winbush, the Clark Sisters, Karen Clark-Sheard, Mase, Lil’ Kim and many more. Kelly also sang at President Clinton’s Inaugural Ball in 1996

In 1999 Kelly was hand picked by friend Whitney Houston to sing on Whitney’s single “Heartbreak Hotel.” Eighteen years ago in February, the single hit #1 on Billboard‘s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It was the second single from her “My Love Is Your Love” album and Faith Evans and Kelly were prominently featured on the choruses and bridge. The song also was a hit in many countries worldwide and was certified Platinum by the RIAA. It received two Grammy nominations and a nomination for Best R&B Video at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.

Every woman’s life is a story. From first step to first kiss to first love to that first heartbreak, to the first labor pain, to the first night alone to the last face you see, as women grow and gain experiences, their story becomes infused with deeper emotions, more intricate scenarios and shadings and layers of well earned wisdom.

Mirror Mirror” is Kelly Price’s story. Released in 2000, it was also her sophomore release. A collection that solidified her status as a major force in R&B. Purposeful, strong, meaningful, melodic, heartfelt and soulful “Mirror Mirror” was the story that Kelly Price has been writing her whole life. Filled with love and laced with truth, “Mirror Mirror” is the story that Kelly Price was waiting to sing.

Written and co executive produced by Kelly, with help from Warryn Campbell, R. Kelly and Shep Crawford, “Mirror Mirror” is unfettered and real, drawing its inspiration from life itself. Since the 1998 release of her platinum plus debut “Soul of a Woman,” Kelly has faced adversity on both a professional and personal front and has emerged from her trials tough and more determined.

The first single from “Mirror Mirror” was “As We Lay,” a song originally performed by Shirley Murdock (produced by the late Roger Troutman) in 1984.

That story commences with “The Interlude,” a peek into the place where Kelly’s personal and professional lives meet. From that introduction the story continues leading into “You Should Have Told Me,” written by Paul Allen and J Moss. With its quiet, heartrending majesty “You Should Have Told Me” chronicles miscommunications and misgivings between a couple. From those doubts and fears Kelly then drives into the mid tempo and pointedly direct “She Wants You.” Kelly refers to this song as the flip side of her 1998 hit “Friend Of Mine” and like that song “She Wants You” takes you deep into the inner world of love and regret. “Mirror Mirror” covers a wide breadth of emotions. To the reflective title track, to the wistful “The Lullaby,” (featuring Kelly’s two children Jeffrey Jr. and Jonia singing to her) to the powerful “All I Want is You” (with K-Ci and Gerald LeVert). And as she did with “Soul Of A Woman,” Kelly closes her book by returning to her gospel roots with the hymn “Many Things About Tomorrow.”

In the time off between Soul Of A Woman and Mirror Mirror, that faith was tested repeatedly. Kelly had to deal with numerous career and personal issues. Both her mother and mother in-law were diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately her mother is in remission but in the fall of 1999 Kelly’s mother in law passed away and Mirror Mirror is dedicated to her memory. Having the diseases touch her family so tragically prompted Kelly to action. She recorded the single “Love Sets You Free” and donated the proceeds to breast cancer research. She also took time to reevaluate her career and her motivation. Having gone through the fire Kelly found herself, in the new year, recharged and ready to record once again and in fact recorded “Mirror Mirror” in a scant one month’s time.

Mirror Mirror” was followed up with the gold-selling holiday collection, One Family: A Christmas album in 2001. She released her last project for Def Soul this month in 2003, entitled “Priceless.” 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.

Kelly 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.

For her next musical offering, Kelly departed from the “machine” of the major labels where artists and their visions can often be sacrificed or lost. Instead Ms. Price chose to do it her way and forged a musical partnership with Producer Warryn Campbell whose start up label My Block Records was just forming. A conversation led to a joint venture and the joint venture led to “Kelly”, a body of work that Ms. Price called her best yet.

The album proved to be a huge success as Kelly was nominated for three Grammy® awards in 2012, including “Best R&B Performance” (Kelly Price and Stokley Williams), “Best R&B Song” (Not My Daddy) and “Best R&B Album” (Kelly). Kelly was also nominated for one Grammy® in 2011, for the albums lead single “Tired.”

Early 2013 Kelly Price started filming R&B Divas LA ,the spin off of TV One‘s R&B Divas. Kelly shot one season with the show and ultimately decided not to return. Kelly‘s last album was in 2014, “Sing Pray Love Vol:1 Sing” which included her chart topping inspirational single “Its My Time.” Unfortunately in 2014 Kelly loss her sister Sakina Grace Price.

2015 saw the re-launching of For The Love of R&B, a music performance and education initiative conceptualized by Price to help provide additional platforms for R&B artist and educating unsigned and Indie artist with much needed information and “on the stage” training for the careers they desire to have in music and entertainment.

Last year, Kelly released the single “Everytime (Grateful)” from the Bounce TV drama series soundtrack. UB had the honor of premiering the single. Kelly even appeared in a recurring role the first season. On top of that, she wrote the title track hit for K. Michelle‘s “Not A Little Bit.”

Kelly Price is currently in the studio finishing her next album release due this year entitled “Soul of A Woman Rated KP.” From Kelly‘s new attitude since her divorce from husband/manager Jeffrey Rolles in 2015. Her whole outlook is different and she is constantly glowing on social media. #YouAintReadyForThisKelly

Throughout her career Kelly has sung for, recorded with, toured with, written songs for, and arranged and produced music for artists including: Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Brian McKnight, Mary J Blige, P. Diddy, Brandy, Donnie McClurkin, The Williams Brothers, Yolanda Adams, Whitney Houston, Mary Mary, The Notorious B.I.G, Richard Smallwood, R. Kelly, Eric Clapton, Wynona Judd and Ronald Isley.

In an industry where sometimes image reigns over talent Kelly Price’s success is worth noting. By sticking to her guns, by staying true to herself and by creating bodies of work that are unquestionable, this remarkably down to earth and gifted woman has emerged as a significant entertainment force. As a songwriter, producer and singer, Kelly Price’s star burns bright.

Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday Kelly!

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We’ve interviewed Kelly numerous times over the years and here are some of our favorite quotes.

UrbanBridgez.com: You were a part of the glory days of R&B in the ’90s. What would you say is missing in that genre today?
Kelly Price: I feel like live instrumentation is missing, and just the ability to get up and sing. I’m not talking about somebody who can’t sing. But every voice when heard in its natural state, has some flaws to it – for some of us, it’s raspiness. But our voices are instruments. So for guitarists, they’ll pick a certain guitar if they want a more raspy, airy sound or they’ll tune the strings a certain way. And then if they’re looking for something different, they’ll go for a different kind of guitar. Voices are the same way. I feel like that with all of the technology, we’re losing the nature of music in its most authentic state. But coming up in the ’90s era of R&B music and even in the early 2000s – the early millennial releases – you still had that. I would love to be able to see that live more, not that I don’t like what’s happening now, it’s an evolution of what was there before, but I don’t feel that it’s necessary to eliminate what was for what is.

UrbanBridgez.com: What do you remember about that period – being around legends, like yourself, who were newbies at the time?
Kelly Price: I can look at it better now. I was caught up in the middle of it and I was overwhelmed and I was excited. As much of a gospel person that I am, the R&B chick and the hip-hop girl, I just now in recent years really, really look back and understand that I played a real role in that era. When I was in it, it was kind of surreal. I was in the middle of it and I couldn’t really see how big things were. They were bigger than anything I had ever been a part of. But looking back now, I was a part of some of the biggest records to ever come out of hip-hop and that’s pretty amazing. And maybe it was best that I didn’t really realize how big it was at that time because my head might have turned into a water balloon. But I look back, and I’m so grateful to have worked in that era of music and worked with a lot of the people that I worked with. It’s just an amazing body of work to look back over now. Because whether or not the newbies acknowledge it, they listen to all that stuff and they took from it.

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