Kelsey K is a natural born songwriter with a clear vision of what she’s meant to do. At 17, she is already an accomplished singer, songwriter and musician who has held her own in front of thousands of people, opening shows for acts like Lady Antebellum, Toby Keith, Thomas Rhett and Hunter Hayes. She’s no stranger to what it takes to be a compelling artist choosing to pass on faster routes for one of paying dues and honing her craft. One could spend several pages telling you her history, and the sacrifices she and her family have made to help her follow the fire that burns within her. Nashville Hall of Fame writer Aaron Barker, feels “Kelsey is the most dedicated and persistent young singer/songwriter I have ever written with. In an ocean of new artists who come to Nashville in the hopes of becoming a star, Kelsey has simply come to claim what is rightfully hers.”
Music has always instinctively been her first love. From making up songs as a toddler, to her first performance at age 4 singing the “Grand Ole Flag”, music just seemed to have to come out of her. Her love of country music blossomed after she attended her first concert, at age 5, where she saw Shania Twain and announced at the end of the show, “I’m going to do that someday!” Soon after, she was writing songs about her daddy, angels, and what had happened on the playground. By 9, she was determined to sing at the county fair and took her birthday money and bought her first guitar so she could put music to her songs. She began performing at local fairs and nursing homes singing her favorite Patsy Cline tunes and her newest creations. She also loved competing in sports but that all came to a halt when she came down with a mysterious illness in March of 2010 that left her too weak and ill to participate in sports or school. She wouldn’t return to her 5th grade class that year. Instead she spent many weeks in the hospital. During this difficult time, her guitar Ruby was a constant companion and together they wrote song after song. Her songs expressed a wisdom far beyond her years, her curious parents asked Kelsey how she wrote the songs and she replied, “God sends the songs. I just listen.” Even though Kelsey was very weak, music helped her forget how sick she was. She entered and won a talent contest, giving her the opportunity to open a concert for Gary Allen. A local farmer heard about Kelsey’s talent and sent her to Nashville in December of 2010 to record her first original album, “Live, Laugh, Love” with Montgomery Gentry’s Eddie Killgallon, who felt, “Kelsey’s melody and lyric writing far surpasses anyone I’ve met at her age.” His sentiments were echoed when the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) awarded Kelsey a scholarship to their Advanced Songwriters Camp, at age 11, the youngest songwriter in the organization’s history to receive such recognition. After her first trip to Nashville, Kelsey traveled to Mayo Clinic in January of 2011 where they would discover she had POTS syndrome. With medication and time she would grow out of the childhood illness that lead her down her new path to Nashville.
While she continued to grow physically stronger so did her love for creating music. By 12, she was fronting her first band, performing many shows, including her first CMA fest, and using her earnings to get to and from Nashville to develop her writing skills and host writers rounds at venues such as the Listening Room and the Commodore. Her hard work led to her second album “Blue Jean Girl”, which was fan funded and recorded at Starstruck Studios in Nashville in June of 2012. The album yielded an Independent Music Award for Best Country Song, Kelsey’s first movie cut with “Blue Jean Girl” featured in the movie “Cowgirl’s & Angels 2: Dakota’s Summer”, and her first publishing deal at age 13.
That fall an anonymous gift arrived. The anonymous gift giver, by messenger, indicated they felt God had a big plan for Kelsey, and to accomplish that, she would be in need of a better guitar. It was not just any guitar; it was a beautiful Taylor KOA 24ce. That anonymous gift giver, could not have known, nor did Kelsey, that within a couple of months she would start a run of opening for various well known acts like Toby Keith, Thomas Rhett, Scotty McCreery and Hunter Hayes across the country from Texas to Wisconsin and her childhood dream of performing in the Grandstand at the Iowa State Fair with Lady Antebellum and Billy Currington.
She moved to Nashville at 15, living in her donated 12×24 band trailer on a full hook-up campsite in Greenbrier, TN. It started out as a summer home to rehearse with her band in Nashville and co-write, but ended up becoming her home for a full year. By fall of 2014 new opportunities opened and her parents decided to sacrifice to let Kelsey see where it might lead. Her mom took a leave from her teaching job to stay with her while her dad stayed in Iowa with her brothers. In that tiny camper, she homeschooled, worked on her lead guitar skills, began teaching herself Logic, and wrote the songs that would become her next EP. In February of 2015, at age 15, she recorded her album Run Girl with Ilya Toshinskiy, releasing her single “Run Girl” in September of 2015, deemed “a Highway Find” by John Marks on Sirius XM Radio. Run Girl debut at #36 on The Highway’s Hot 45 Countdown and had over 200,000 streams on Spotify. She was nominated by Nashville Music Industry Awards for best Country Artist for 2016 and has been selected as an NSAI Top 40 songwriter multiple times.
A year and a half ago, her parents-both teachers, along with her 3 brothers, steadfastly lifted their Iowan roots and moved to Nashville. Now almost 18, you can find Kelsey playing gigs at the Wild Horse for CMA fest, the Listening Room and Bluebird Cafe at writer’s showcases, and chatting with Tracy Kornet on WMSV channel 4. She spent the past 6 months working on co-producing a new EP and has some “Big” music industry eyes upon her. Kelsey is planted firmly in the Young Country genre, although her fans are of all ages. Why? Because she’s talented, humble, and moves through the opportunities she creates for herself, like a pro!