Kelly Willis life and biography

Kelly Willis picture, image, poster

Kelly Willis biography

Date of birth : 1968-10-02
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Austin, Texas, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-04-29
Credited as : Country music singer, and songwriter, alternative country

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Kelly Willis is an American country music singer-songwriter, whose music has been described as contemporary country, alternative country and new traditionalist.

An Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter, Kelly Willis was signed by MCA Records' country division in 1990 and widely embraced by critics as a torchbearer for "new traditionalism'. Willis played in her first band when aged 16, performing with her future husband Mas Palermo. Her raucous vocals proved immediately popular, so much so that the band was renamed Kelly And The Fireballs in her honour. Willis and Palermo relocated to Austin after graduation and established a new band, Radio Ranch. The band impressed Nanci Griffith, who arranged an audition at MCA Records. Their debut album was marketed under Willis" name in an attempt to capitalise on her striking looks. Willis has often been compared to another MCA artist, Brenda Lee, because her records suggest the same blend of rockabilly, rock 'n' roll and ballads, updated for the 90s. The title track of Bang Bang, for example, was an obscure title from rock 'n' roller Janis Martin. The songwriting credits on her albums are always interesting. "Sincerely" was written by Steve Earle and Robert Earl Keen, and the Don Was-produced third album included songs co-written with John Leventhal and Paul Kennerley. She also duetted with Kevin Welch on "That'll Be Me" and took time out to add background harmonies to Chris Wall's Cowboy Nation. She sang the Paul Kennerley song "I Don't Want To Love You (But I Do)' on the movie soundtrack of Thelma And Louise, and appeared as Clarissa Flan in Tim Robbins' political satire movie Bob Roberts. Willis was dropped by MCA in 1993, and remained quiet until she returned to recording with 1996"s Fading Fast EP. A new album appeared on Rykodisc Records in 1998 and the critics really started noticing her as an important "new" talent. What I Deserve was a beautifully constructed album which veers away from her straight country style. The guitar-rich tracks feature Max Butler and the distinctive tones of Chuck Prophet, with stand-out songs including "Wrapped", "Cradle Of Love" and a superb version of Nick Drake's "Time Has Told Me". The album Easy followed in 2002. She is married to songwriter Bruce Robison.

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