Considering that Kelsey Waters began playing bars before she could even drive, it should come as no surprise that she’s such a compelling, self-assured performer. Delivering two-hour sets since she was fourteen, the cover-tune-slinging, precocious-punk-kid morphed along the way into the captivating singer-songwriter she is today.
Practiced and focused beyond her years, these days the Kelsey Waters who steps on stage is a nuanced blend of youthful swagger, honest, quirky humor and worldly gravitas. It’s a combination that keeps listeners slightly off balance and totally drawn into the striking creature singing her heart out before them. When she leans into the mic, guitar held sure in her fine-boned hands, she is magnetic, and audiences can’t help but to feel the pull.
Raised in the 30-A region of the Florida panhandle, Kelsey grew up in the music saturated orbit of a mother who loved to sing and a father who loved to listen. “My mom was in a band and gigging full time when she was pregnant with me. I grew up watching her sit in with local bands after that. ‘Angel from Montgomery’ was her go-to and is my all time favorite song — it reminds me to keep reaching, to keep trying. . . We used to ride back and forth from Tallahassee to the beach together and she’d have Patty Griffin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bonnie Raitt or Sheryl Crow in constant rotation. If that’s not an education in strong women, I don’t know what is. For me, first love equals the album ‘Tuesday Night Music Club’. Mom used to sing ‘Run Baby Run’ while she got dressed in the morning. Damn, she’s cool.”
Fast forward a bit: Kelsey moved to Nashville at twenty and quickly began making inroads on Music Row. She signed a publishing deal with Little Extra Music and was soon hard at work with some of her songwriting idols, including Lori McKenna (“Girl Crush”, “Humble & kind”) & Tia Sillers (“I Hope You Dance”, “There’s Your Trouble”, “Blue On Black”), building a growing catalog of songs that are both universal and reflective of her unique slant on life.
Currently working towards a first album, Waters is clear-eyed on how she envisions her artistry. “I want my music to be relevant, honest and come straight from the heart. My hope is to make a record full of songs that sound just as true as they do when they’re first recorded as a work-tape on my phone. That raw, crazy energy, when you know you’ve written something fine, when you think you’ve nailed it? That’s what I’m out to capture.”