In House with Bridget Kelly: How Jay-Z, Lady Gaga Helped Singer Find Her Voice
"We're the cool kids again!" Bridget Kelly proclaims about the current new wave of R&B. This year has brought heightened interest in soul singers, with releases from Frank Ocean, Miguel, Elle Varner, and others. Now the 26-year-old looks forward to adding her own spices to this brewing pot, with her untitled debut LP, in stores in 2013.
"It's not like the like old grown up, snoozefest. People want to really come to our shows, they want to hear us rock out, they want to hear us sing, and I think that's powerful. I'm happy to be a part of it," she tells The BoomBox.
Bridget's journey has been long, but worth every second. After being signed to Roc Nation in 2008, the New Yorker's new boss, Jay-Z, took her on tour, where she had the opportunity to fill in for Alicia Keys on "Empire State of Mind." This had everyone saying "who's that girl?" a query even Bridget needed to know for herself, as she looked to find her musical voice. Her answer came in the form of pop icon Lady Gaga who visited the show during a Detroit tour stop, offering up her some unforgettable advice.
"We were just sitting there cracking jokes about, I don't even remember. We were talking about music and being bold. And she was saying 'You're really going to find yourself when you stop asking questions and you start making statements,'" Kelly continues. "I was like 'Wow, thank you Ms. Gaga for that moment.' And that stuck with me."
Having Jay-Z in her corner has also helped as well, teaching the young singer the art of patience. "That's probably the best advice I've ever received. And I have to say it's hard," the Roc Nation signee explains, adding that she's been through many changes since being signed four years ago.
"I've got my heart broken, I've been in love. I've got my heart broken again and been crazy and been drunk and been through a million different things, and trying to keep all those things in perspective for the sake of my career, making sure it's a slow burn and a gradual blaze is a daily reminder for me."
Her rookie jitters now calmed, Bridget has put her boldness to work.
"My music is kind of bold," she says. "I say a lot of things that I think a lot of woman would like to say, but don't necessarily know how to say, or just won't say period because they're scared or uncomfortable. I'm more than happy being the voice of all the women who are crazy and insane and emotionally wreckless."
Listen to Bridget Kelly's "Special Delivery"
Despite her tough attitude, Kelly admits to shedding a few tears while recording a ballad called "Hear No Evil," written by Shea Taylor. "I forced myself to get into it and it was really open," she says of the song's recording session.
"Special Delivery," her first single, gets into feelings as well, and is what Bridget calls a "classic R&B-feeling record" with a modern twist. "I just felt like it was sort of the perfect debut, so people could really understand that I take myself seriously and I take how I feel really seriously."
As for her producers, Bridget saw some of her happiest moments come during her last recording sessions with the legendary Jerry Wonda, who has produced for the Fugees and Lauryn Hill. During this time everything began to come "full circle" for her. Although the album is still in it's final stages, Bridget expresses a little uncertainty as to whether it is a sealed deal. "I don't know if the album's done. Every time I say that the album is done, I jinx myself, and I'm like 'No, I'm going to take another six months to finish it.'"
Attributing this as the main reason her debut has been pushed back, others have tried to stir the pot by saying her labelmate Rita Ora's August debut, Ora, was given more priority. However, Kelly assures there's no drama, and takes the gossip as a sign of interest from fans who are anxious to finally see what she's going to bring to the table.
"As far as Rita goes, we're labelmates, and of course there are those who will say, 'Why is she coming out first?' At the end of the day I'm lucky to be a part of Roc Nation because we have such a family-oriented business, that those kind of questions don't even arise amongst us.
"We're family and we also do completely different music so it's a little different for every artist. Every artist has their own process and every artist has their own team that's behind them. You gotta just really go at your own pace."