SS101: Congrats on your success so far! How do you feel about the warm reception in the entertainment world?
Bridget Kelly: Thank you! Honestly I think it’s really hard for new artists to break out and develop some serious core fans that love their music and personality. So I feel blessed. I work really hard, so I’m happy that people love me and are getting to know me and love my music and are excited about my project. That’s what I do it for.
SS101: You seem to have connected with women in a different way than a lot of other female artists have in recent years. Why do you think that is?
Bridget Kelly: I think there’s been a large amount of gimmicky, manufactured material that’s been shoved in our face as women. But there have been some incredible women at what they do, masterful women like Beyonce who sets positive examples and sings from the heart. Alicia Keys is another one. I just think the real voices are coming back. The real R&B, the real vocal music. I’m a part of the new wave of it and it’s surreal. I’m telling my story and it speaks to a lot of women who are dealing with the same issues in their lives. The same stories of love, their insecurities and doubts. That’s how we connect.
SS101: How would you describe yourself & your sound?
Bridget Kelly: As a person I think I am fun loving and courageous and risk taking and spontaneous and romantic…
SS101: And all of that is reflective in your music.
Bridget Kelly: Absolutely. As an artist as well I try to really capture the attention of people, not just women, but people who have had a hard time and struggled in relationships but have stayed true to themselves. I think I’ve been really true to myself with what I need and what I want and what I demand and sometimes that’s wrong but I’m going to tell the story nonetheless.
SS101: Where did you get your start in music?
Bridget Kelly: I grew up in a really musical household. I didn’t start taking it seriously until I was 11 or 12. I saw the movie Selena and I was like “I could absolutely do that!” *laughs* just watching how happy it made her and how happy it made me, to live her dream. And then I went to LaGuardia for the Performing Arts High School and that put me on the stage. That was my time to shine, the defining moment to me where I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It made total sense.
SS101: All of that professional training paid off. I actually saw you perform recently – opening up for Brandy in NYC and you did your thing. You sounded great and had great stage presence. You look very comfortable up there and like you’re ready to break out and show the world what you got.
Bridget Kelly: Thank you! It’s been a long time coming. And moments like that, opening up for Brandy is a dream come true. She is one of my idols. One of my inspirations. To be so green as an artist, so new and to have that opportunity placed in front of me is just surreal. It just keeps getting better. The harder it gets the bigger the payoff. The crazier my schedule gets, the harder I work the better the payoff. It’s all just surreal.
SS101: You said Brandy is one of your biggest inspirations and you mentioned Beyonce and Alicia Keys. Who else are your biggest music influences who made you connect to music and made you want to do this?
Bridget Kelly: Mariah Carey is definitely number 1 for me. When I grew up my mom was very strict on what I could listen to so I had to hide my R&B tapes like my Toni Braxton tapes and my Brandy tapes. I used to have to keep it on the low because I was like 10 or 11 so my mom was definitely trying to control the content that I was putting into my ears. But I listened to a lot of Mariah. Just watching her as a kid she seemed to be having so much fun and I thought that was the best thing in the world. To have fun and do what you love as your career is the most beautiful thing. As I got older Alicia Keys, Pink, Alanis Morissette and of course Brandy because I’m a vocalist so studying those vocal arrangements and backgrounds of Brandy is like the vocal bible. She’s the Michael Jordan of R&B for me.
SS101: Brandy said recently that she feels like a new artist because she’s been gone for so long and she has to reintroduce herself and it’s been so long since she’s been on top. So in some ways you guys may be experiencing a lot of the same things right now.
Bridget Kelly: Yea it’s been such a long time since we’ve seen her out here killing it. The more shows she does back to back and the more she sees how much people love her records and love her… forget the songs, the ad libs. I was in the crowd like everyone knows the words to the song but everyone was waiting for that adlib or that little run… everyone’s waiting for that from her so she’s going to be so inspired to keep going. It’s a beautiful feeling when you have people that love you the way people love her and what she brings. It’s a reminder every single night when you’re on stage. For me it’s a reminder of how much you love what you do and how much people appreciate you.
SS101: Who is your dream collaboration? Dead or alive.
Bridget Kelly: Quincy Jones. John Mayer – I love his writing and his voice, he’s incredible, abstract and deep. I would put John Mayer in the same category of Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin. That would be a phenomenal collab. They are brilliant. Maybe someone can resurrect them for one night and make it happen.
SS101: Holograms are bringing people back so you never know. We’ll put it out there and see what happens.
Bridget Kelly: They sure are!
SS101: You grew up in New York. There’s definitely something about singers from New York that stands out. Do you think where you were brought up is reflective in your music? If so, how?
Bridget Kelly: Hell yea! Absolutely. NY is the biggest melting pot in the country. This city is the greatest city on earth. It’s so heavily cultured by people from around the world and by so many artistic expressions. Growing up here you have an appreciation and a respect for all different types of music, visual arts, performing arts. Everything you could possibly ask for is here. Even going to a performing arts high school, you have ballerinas going to a hip hop show. You have photographers who are interested in jazz. Your perspective is so broad that you’re able to develop a love and sincere attraction to the arts. Of course me being from here, I’m heavily influenced – I love every genre of music from country to hip-hop, to rock to pop to R&B. Even folk music. My mother was part of that generation. She was very into Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell… Stevie Nicks. Couple that in with Donny Hathaway, Odis Redding and Sam Cooke. So have all of that passed down to me. Being in New York is a breeding ground for that type of love.
SS101: We are a city guide site so we like to keep our readers informed on the hottest spots. What are some of your favorite spots to chill in NYC?
Bridget Kelly: I’m a foodie. I LOVE food! I love to eat. One of my favorite restaurants is in the neighborhood I grew up in. It’s called Rafaella’s it’s a French/Italian café. They have old books in the window and marble tables. It’s so classic. The food is really good there and it’s a small low key spot.I really love small cafes. This spot Grumpy Coffee I love that.To go out I love the The Delancey Lounge. I love spots that are in the cut. I can do the club thing but I prefer a lounge over a massive space. I rather go to the place where the music is good and the ambiance is there. There is a bar down in the village called Dove that I really like. They play really good music.
SS101: A lot of times the hole in the wall spots have the best foods the best music.
Bridget Kelly: They do! I like Mr. H in Soho, It’s the first floor of the Mondrian Hotel. It’s a loungy type of place with great music and palm trees. You wouldn’t guess that they play old school hip-hop and disco music. That’s another spot I really like.
SS101: Outside of New York, what has been the dopest place that you’ve been while traveling for business or vacation?
Bridget Kelly: I’m really big on food so South of France is the most incredible place I’ve ever been. Between Paris and Cannes. There’s a small town next to Cannes called Antibes. There’s an Italian restaurant there, in France, so there’s Italian Food and French wines – the freshest breads and cheese…the most phenomenal food. Fresh fish caught off the coast. Just any place that has amazing food and great people is where I’m trying to be.
SS101: Nice, thanks for sharing! Now back to the music. What has been your most notable experience in your professional music career so far?
Bridget Kelly: That’s easy, hands down my very first being on stage as a signed artist was at Madison Square Garden with Jay-Z. It was probably the best moment of my life. That’s when I sang Empire State of Mind for the first time. What that night represented for me, being from New York, the crowd response, being in the biggest venue that you could ever want to perform – that’s the dream stage and I got my start there. I got to catch a glimpse of where I want to be and where I see myself going.
SS101: I didn’t know that was you first performance. Did your knees buckle? *laughs* What did that even feel like? Were you terrified?
Bridget Kelly: YES! I got the call like a week before that Jay wants me to come to his rehearsal. And I don’t even know what’s going on so I ask and they’re like “well you’re going to sing Empire State of Mind” and I whisper to the band… “that’s Alicia Keys record. Whaaaat??” I was in shambles like, “I can’t believe it. I’m expected to fill those shoes?” Which is no easy feat of course because Alicia Keys is powerhouse vocals. I’m like Oh My God this is so much pressure. But as soon as I walked into that arena I was like this is it. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be. This is my time. This is it. The beginning of it all.
SS101: And from that first day you’ve had quite the journey. Tell us about your new single. You performed it at the concert the other night, “Special Delivery”
Bridget Kelly: Yes! Special Delivery – the record came together in a random way. We stumbled upon the collaboration of me and Cri$tyle, who is a phenomenal writer who did a few records on my album. She tells a story in such a way that…. I just felt like there was no better first single. It speaks to my heart because I am a part of this generation where everything is communicated through email – I’m on my phone tweeting, texting, answering emails all day. The song is about this emotional disconnect in a relationship and the reason is because the communication is shot so the only way to officially get my message across is to write it down and to send it to him. It takes so much effort and time to write out how I feel. After I recorded this record I went home and wrote down some feelings that I had to think like prior to this moment when is the last time I wrote down how I felt? Writing songs I write in a blackberry or in the notes on the iphone so to sit and write out my feelings was so liberating because it was like yo, we don’t even do this anymore. We take for granted those simple things. There’s so much that goes into writing. This song was the perfect way to communicate to my fans that I’m the kind of person that takes the time to do things right.
SS101: I love it and it definitely is the type of song that gives you the freedom to actually sing, unlike a lot of current R&B with rushed vocals buried in beats. It lets your vocals breathe a little bit. There aren’t that many songs where you can hear that someone can actually sing, so I think that’s dope.
Bridget Kelly: I’m happy that I’m able to really sing on my records. I don’t have to tone my voice down. I love that they let me get on the record and just sing.
SS101: Do you think the single reflects what we can expect from the album?
Bridget Kelly: Yes! My biggest thing is making sure the content is right and making sure that there is a story. I call it an alternative R&B album. There’s so many sounds that I pulled in to tell the story. Special Delivery really represents it. It’s very soulful, it’s very raw. A lot of the tracks are live instruments so it’s right up that alley.
I’m still in the creative process. I don’t want to say the album is really done until it comes full circle. There are still some feelings that I want to talk about and I’m always back in the studio writing again singing again, adding gems.
SS101: We’ll be on the look out for that and we’ll rock with the first single as the introduction to Bridget Kelly.
Bridget Kelly: Yes! And come to the shows! I’m opening for Brandy on most of her east coast dates. I’m trying to get on every stage possible to promote this.
SS101: Much success to you and we’re rooting for you on the home team.