KELLY RICHEY – BIO
Guitarist/singer Kelly Richey has been described by one music critic as: “Stevie Ray Vaughan trapped in a woman’s body with Janis Joplin screaming to get out.” That’s an apt appraisal of the Lexington, Kentucky native, who’s now been based in Cincinnati for many years. Over the course of many album releases (and a live DVD) leading up to her latest CD, the all-instrumental Speechless, Richey has often been compared to such greats as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan because of her ability to capture and entertain an audience with ripping guitar leads that both sing and astonish.
As a teenager, Kelly Richey practiced 12 hours a day. “I never set it down,” she remembers. “I took it to school, I took it to the kitchen table and if I took a walk it was strapped on.” Now, when she picks up her guitar to play, anyone within earshot is compelled to listen. As she honed her playing skills and started learning more about her idol's teachers, Kelly realized that their influences were her true love--the blues.
A working musician since she was a teenager, Kelly Richey began her professional career as a member of the Arista Records group, Stealin' Horses. In 1990, she formed The Kelly Richey Band and has gone on to become both a national and international touring artist.
One of Kelly's most cherished moments as a guitarist came in 1988 when she found herself on-stage with the legendary Albert King at his sold-out show in Nashville. Invited on stage for one song, King told Richey, “That guitar is like a gun; if you pick it up, you better mean to use it.” And Kelly did; she played the remainder of the set with the late blues legend. In 1993 while playing a benefit in Louisville, another of her idols, Lonnie Mack, saw Kelly perform with her band. Impressed with her strong performance, he invited her to join him on stage, where they brought the house down with their dueling guitar leads.
Buoyed by critical praise and fiercely loyal fans, The Kelly Richey Band tours extensively, bringing their electric live experience to venues throughout the US. While most of the early attention centered on her incendiary guitar playing, Richey has developed into a strong singer as well, drawing those comparisons to Janis Joplin. Richey has opened for James Brown, Johnny and Edgar Winter and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, among others. As another journalist put it, “Imagine a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Ruth Brown and you’ve only begun to get the picture.”
The Kelly Richey Band has developed an almost cult-like following. Fans have snapped up thousands of the band’s previous releases, most notably, Eyes Of a Woman, Sending Me Angels and the DVD, Kelly Richey Live. Since establishing her own label, Sweet Lucy Records, Ms. Richey has released nine CDs, as both a solo artist and with her band. The label has national distribution through Select-O-Hits, as well as international distribution. In her adopted hometown of Cincinnati, Kelly Richey and her band have won multiple awards including Best Blues/RB Band, Best Rock Band, Best Local Musician and Best Local Band. Joining Kelly to form the rhythm section are David Clawson on drums and Jimmy Valdez on bass, each accomplished musicians in their own right.
On her latest CD, Speechless, Kelly salutes several of her guitar heroes with nine songs that demonstrate the breadth of her playing. Among the many standouts, are the opening track, “One Day We’ll Feel the Sun,” with an obvious nod to Jimi Hendrix; “Is There Any Reason,” which recalls the tones of Roy Buchanan; “Climb the Highest Mountain,” with its Joe Walsh/James Gang influences; “Stand Alone,” played in the Lonnie Mack style; and “Without a Trace,” which will remind listeners of the Eric Clapton/John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers sound.
In addition to her work as a touring artist, Ms. Richey has been teaching guitar to both children and adults, beginners to advanced, and presents guitar instruction workshops. Ms. Richey is an Artist-On-Tour for the Cincinnati Arts Association and is on the roster of The Kentucky Center Arts Education Showcase. Ms. Richey recognizes that music is a universal language and the gift of music can be used to build learning skills and to strengthen each student's imagination.