jazz & blues music blog with news, reviews, concerts & more, with a Canadian focus

August 15, 2005

Blues/R&B Artist Kelley Hunt

Written by
cindy mcleod

Friday night in Calgary was graced with the performance of blues artist Kelley Hunt, a pianist/vocalist/songwriter from Kansas City whose star is quickly rising. A performer of extraordinary caliber, Kelley’s appearance was even more poignant after she had to cancel the previous night’s engagement due to hospitalization for food poisoning. Like a trooper, she showed for Friday night in spite of it, and absolutely floored us all with her energy and the power of her show.

Kelley’s repertoire covers many genres, but her arsenal of great original material makes her even more of a phenomenon. Kelley is fiercely independent within the industry, a woman who has hard earned every credit she’s received in a predominantly male market, and her credits are plentiful. The buzz is that she’s in the running for a Grammy, and if you heard her recordings, or better yet seen her live performance, you’d know why.

Kelley Hunt
Kelley Hunt

As a hard boogieing pianist, her chops are plentiful and solid, and her voice powerhouse and husky. Her band is first rate, they obviously play many styles with ease, but support Kelley’s sound masterfully. Her music reveals her roots with shades of Gospel, R&B, Blues, and Rock and Roll colouring her unique sound. She was ‘discovered’ on a trip to Nashville by renowned producer Garth Fundis when she sat down at a grand piano in the studio and played for him. He was so impressed he took her on as an artist, and introduced her to Gary Nicholson, producer of such greats as Delbert McLinton, and an accomplished musician/songwriter. Thus was born the co-writing of the material that launched her to the height of success she enjoys today, for she and Gary had an instant connect and he has co-produced her latest ‘New Shade of Blue’, which debuted at #9 on the Billboard charts. Her previous releases, the self titled ‘Kelley Hunt’and ‘Inspiration’ were both critically acclaimed, and have taken her on the road throughout North America, and helped build a huge audience base and praise from many reviewers.

The word critics most often use to describe Kelley’s talent is that she’s a ‘natural’, and that also describes her character. She had a few moments to speak with me before her show on Friday, and I was taken with her genuine and ego-free spirit, she’s a strong, sensible, dedicated and oh so real woman, who cares deeply about her audiences, the band that so beautifully supports her on stage, and her family life. She told me that her management had tried to talk her out of appearing in Calgary because she’d been so sick and hadn’t had a solid meal in over two days, but she refused them, she expressed her regret to let anyone down and clearly places her fans above anything else. If you’d been there, you would have seen that nothing stands in her way, likely a big part of her success in the industry.

It is only a matter of time until Kelley becomes a household name in Canada, her travels here have already captured the hearts of many, and believe me, if you go to her show, you won’t ever forget her great talent and greater spirit. www.kelleyhunt.com

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