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Introducing: Tori Kelly

At just 20 years of age, it already feel as though Tori Kelly has done, well, just about everything. The wavy-haired Californian songstress has won America’s Most Talented Kids, amassed a loyal following of over 650, 000 subscribers to the YouTube channel where she posts both acoustic originals and loveable covers, and performed all over the US and Europe in support of a string of wildly successful singles in ‘Fill a Heart‘, ‘Bring Me Home‘ and ‘Confetti‘. Now finding herself managed by Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ariana Grande) and with her second EP, Foreword, out today in the UK, there’s never been a better time to fall in love with Kelly’s silky voice and hearty guitar.

We sat down for a quick chat with the precocious youngster to chat about her much-talked about collaborations with Pharrell and Ed Sheeran, the best people to follow on Twitter and the gospel music that’s imbued her music with a sense of soul that alludes many of her peers. But first, here’s the Foreword EP in all its ebullient, softly-strummed glory:

PlanetNotion: So, first off: tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Tori Kelly?
Tori Kelly: She’s just a nerd who’s writing music and living her dream.

PN: You won America’s Most Talented Kids at just 12-years-old. Have you always felt at home on the stage? What does performing offer you?
TK: Performing is one of my favorite things to do as an artist. I wasn’t always comfortable on stage, but being on TV shows like America’s Most Talented Kids really helped with my confidence as a performer.

PN: If you weren’t a performer, what do you think you’d be doing with your life?
TK: If I wasn’t performing, I’d still have to be doing something that involved music; whether it was writing for other people or being more on the business side, I wouldn’t be able to live without music.

PN: You’ve got a new EP due very soon, Foreword. What can you tell us about it at this stage?
TK: I am so excited to put this EP out. It’s only 5 songs, but I think it gives a nice little glimpse into my sound. I feel like I’ve grown a lot since my last EP and I’m super proud of this one.

PN: To me, a foreword implies the very beginning of something. Have you got big plans ahead after the EP?
TK: Definitely. I wanted to name the EP Foreword because it feels like an introduction to something bigger. I will say that an album is in the works so next year should be really fun.

PN: You’ve been spotted in the studio with both Pharrell and Ed Sheeran recently. Can you tell us much about what you’ve been up to with them?
TK: I’ve been a fan of both of these guys for a while so to be able to work with such talent was amazing. Pharrell is one of coolest, most genuine people I’ve ever worked with and I’d definitely work with him again. Ed and I wrote a song together that I love. He’s hilarious and just really fun to be around. It’s so crazy that I’ll be opening for him at his sold-out show at Madison Square Garden!

PN: You’ve already amassed an army of Twitter followers (230k+ right now), but who are your 3 favourite people to follow on Twitter and why?
TK: @MirandaSings – my talented friend who is also a comedian and has hilarious YouTube videos.
@yelyahwilliams – she seems so chill and real. Girl crush!
@scotthoying – another friend who makes me laugh with his wittiness and sarcasm. He also sings in an amazing a cappella group called Pentatonix.

PN: I found it interesting how you’ve cited gospel music as being an important formative influence on yourself. How do you feel that’s fed through into the music you’re making now?
TK: Gospel music was a big part of my childhood. I love it because it’s not just something that you listen to; you feel it too. It takes you places and does something to your soul. When I create my own music, I put all of myself into it and you’ll probably hear the soulful style that comes from my gospel influences.

PN: Your cover of ‘Suit & Tie’ has been garnering quite a bit of attention this year, but what’s your favourite item of clothing?
TK: I love anything cozy. It’s fun to dress up sometimes but, for the most part, I’m a t-shirt & jeans kind of girl.

PN: On a final note, what words of advice would you give to all those budding songstresses out there?
TK: Don’t over think; my best songs are the ones that seem to come out of nowhere. Write about what you feel and just be honest.

PN: And on a final, FINAL note, is there anything you’d like to tell us about?
TK: I’m going on a US tour this fall, but I also can’t wait to travel and share my music with the rest of the world!

- Alex Cull

You can find Tori on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as on her website. The Foreword EP is released today in the UK on Capitol, you can download it here.

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