#WomanCrushWednesday: Tori Kelly

#WomanCrushWednesday: Tori Kelly

Unbreakable smile

Text: Tracy Phillips

Image: Getty Images

At 16, she was told her voice was ‘annoying’ by Simon Cowell. But Tori Kelly, now 22, is proof that staying true to who you are is the path to authentic success

Youtube star Tori Kelly is making her way into the big time on her own terms.

After she didn't take to the image her previous record company was pushing her towards (she was shown a bunch of scantily clad female performers), Kelly found herself released from a record deal she had signed when she was 12. The songstress spent the next decade honing her craft, writing and recording songs in her bedroom and sharing them on her Youtube channel. It was a cover of Frank Ocean's Thinking About You that finally did it — after amassing over two million hits, she was signed by Justin Bieber's farsighted manager, Scooter Braun. Thus began her transition from Internet wonder to real-life pop sensation.

If there was any doubt about her vocal prowess, it was quickly put to rest after her stand out live performances at awards shows like the VMA's and BET. Armed with her trademark blonde locks and a guitar, the California native had everyone asking who she was after the performance. It's proof that you can command attention from the strength of your voice and not what you're wearing — or not wearing.

Writing and co-writing all the songs on her recently released album, Unbreakable Smile, Tori's charm also lies in her autobiographical lyrics, which speak of the challenges she's faced trying to make it in the industry.  With a voice that effortlessly scales and traverses gospel, rock and pop with an ever present R&B undertone, we like Kelly's brand of down to earth realness — showing the world there's space for more than one type of pop star.

Tori Kelly's album Unbreakable Smile is out now in all record stores. For last week's #WomanCrushWednesday, click here.