Tori Kelly upgrades from the Biola Eddy to Madison Square Garden

Since performing at the Eddy, Tori Kelly has gained a significant following.


John Buchanan

Torri Kelly tells the crowd a story of listening to Rachael Lampa’s music as a child. Kelly would later join Lampa for a duet to close The Eddy. | John Buchanan/THE CHIMES

Littleton Odom, Writer

Tori Kelly tells the crowd a story of listening to Rachael Lampa's music as a child during an Eddy last year. Kelly is now performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City. | John Buchanan/THE CHIMES [file photo]


One year ago, a young singer-songwriter took the Biola stage. She was known on YouTube as the girl who did that epic run in the “Pretty Young Thing” cover. To her fans, she was the girl with the voice that made you melt.


Tori Kelly took the Eddy stage along with well-known Christian artist, Rachael Lampa. At the time, Kelly had only released her self-produced EP entitled, “Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly,” as well as several popular YouTube cover videos. At the Eddy, Tori had around 75 fans present in the audience. She played an amazing show, did an incredible duet with Rachael Lampa and the Biola crowd absolutely went wild.

Fast forward a year. On Oct. 22 Kelly released her highly-anticipated second EP, “Foreword.” Less than a month later, on Nov. 1, Kelly opened for a sold-out Ed Sheeran concert at the world famous Madison Square Garden.


How is this possible? She exploded into widespread popularity almost overnight. On Nov. 6, Kelly released her first music video for the song, “Dear No One.” The song premiered on the Teen Vogue website and had 128,000 views in just five days. She is now co-managed by Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, has posted pictures with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Pharrell,, Emeli Sande and Sean “Diddy” Combs, and has 261,000 followers on Twitter. Earlier this year, she went on tour with popular singer-songwriter Jewel. She has sold out show after show on her solo American tour, traveling across the U.S. as well as playing select dates in Canada.

It’s interesting when you look at the differences between her first EP and “Foreword.” For the first one, she did everything. She wrote, recorded and released the songs herself. At its highest point, the EP charted at No. 9 on Billboard's Heatseekers Albums chart and sold 14,000 copies. Not bad for a homemade record.

On the other hand, “Foreword” debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 16,000 in the first week alone. What is also different about this second release is that this EP has received significant media coverage. Kelly has played songs on “Ellen” and “Good Morning America,” and had her single, “Dear No One” featured as the iTunes free Single of the Week.


So the question remains, “How did this happen?” It’s a combination of her relatable lyrics, her highly photogenic face, and simply her unparalleled raw vocal talent. The girl is one of the best singers of this generation of musicians. And more importantly, she can do everything that she does on her recordings, live. Not only can she outsing 99 percent of the other female vocalists in her market, but she writes her own material. At the end of the day, people love Tori Kelly because she is a return to real talent. Not to say that there aren’t other very talented singers in the industry. We just have not seen something like her before and we can’t get enough.

Based on her lightning-fast rise that has happened in less than a year, I’d say her chances of headlining MSG are looking better and better every day. And to think that she was playing in Sutherland Hall just 11 short months ago.

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