Born in South Carolina and raised in Philadelphia, Pa., Carolyn “Dessie” Kelly arrived in Syracuse in 1968. Having sung gospel solos at the Surprise Baptist Church in South Carolina, Kelly had built a solid foundation for singing the blues. In Syracuse, she performed with guitarist Roosevelt Dean and the Soul Doctors for three short years. Then her life’s journey drew her away from music. In 1999 she began work as a certified nursing assistant at Loretto’s Heritage Apartments which specialize in caring for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Kelly is lovingly known by residents and staff alike as “Dessie” -- her childhood nickname.
In 2006, three and a half decades after leaving Dean’s band, Kelly returned to the studio where she performed three tracks on his CD, “Don’t Leave Me.” The session work led to live performances at places such as Meacham Park, Party in the Plaza and the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. “I was scared and nervous, but excited to be back on stage,” Kelly recalled. “I felt like I was out of the scene for too long, but the pleased response from the crowd gave me back my confidence.”
In 2007, Kelly released her first solo CD, “Keep All My Secrets” and in 2008 she and the Roosevelt Dean Band were nominated by the Syracuse Area Music Awards (Sammys) for Best Blues Recording.
In 2008 her second CD, “Slow Cooking on Hot” won the 'Best Blues Recording' Sammy.
In 2012 Carolyn has released her third CD, 'Somebody Told Me' and it's clear that it was worth the wait.
Carolyn has one of the most powerful and soulful voices in the blues genre today and is receiving national and international attention.
Check out Carolyn now and you'll already be a fan when everyone else catches up.