If there’s one thing being in the music business as a journalist or simply roaming New York City streets for nearly eight years now as a resident has taught me, it’s that there are so many talented people in this world. Waiting for the L train at the Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn always means catching a song or two from a guitarist, plucking and wailing for lunch money—if not selling a CD. They’re almost always good, certainly worth pulling out my iPod earbuds to steal a listen before I’m off to the next stop. The transit gems are endless. And then there are umpteen other acts publicists and record labels pitch to me over emails or at events daily, with double the skill. But the odds are against them.
About four years ago a publicist from Roc Nation—Jay Z’s then management company (and now also a full-fledged record label)—asked that I come to see a fledgling star: Bridget Kelly. A bunch of editors, bloggers and industry types were invited to their Sony Records hub to listen to her Every Girl EP. It was promising, featuring songs like the Frank Ocean-penned “Thinkin Bout You” (he’d eventually keep it as his own) and others that showcased her vocal prowess. The combo of skill and that good ol’ “…and Jay Z likes her!” endorsement seemed like an easy sell. She’d even been the lone lady on Jay’s Blueprint 3 tour, the nightly highlight being that she could blow like Alicia Keys during “Empire State of Mind.” Thousands saw her sing every evening they saw arguably (it’s a dumb argument, by the way) the greatest rapper of our time rhyme on arena stages. You’d assume she blew up, right? Nah. She has not. Yet.
Last week (April 24), I met up with Bridget at Smash Studios in New York City, rehearsing for a concert. Kelly’s no longer on Roc Nation, but she’s trucking along nonetheless. NYC’s littered with dreamers who will never achieve theirs. It’s a chilling truth. Bridget’s hanging on to hers tight, though. After things with the Roc crumbled, she regrouped as a confident independent artist and now she’s working on her debut album, All or Nothing. It’s a project helmed by her small, efficient team and production duo Da Internz, who have crafted hits for Rihanna, Big Sean and more. The ones she belted out during rehearsal, then the following day at Manhattan College for a packed gym of newly converted believers are both hearty and emotional, exploring all facets of love—whether she’s happily in it or singing about breaking someone else’s spirits (”Really Meant to Love You”).
I picked Bridget as a subject, because I’m a fan. Here’s hoping that even more people get to hear what she has to offer and that her dreams are fully realized. When I see people with her kind of talent and drive, I hope they never park.