Fairbanks, Alaska spawned American Roots Vocal Powerhouse, Kelly Moneymaker. Kelly says, “Long, dark, cold winters provided the perfect environment for creativity. As kids, we’d stay inside to listen to our favorite albums, write songs/stories and then we’d jam with all our friends.” Since she went pro at thirteen, she’s been busy building a diverse body of work. “I finally merged my singing voice with my writer’s voice by going back to my roots — to writing/performing the style of music I loved listening to growing up. It’s a mix of blues/rock with a taste of soul/funk inspired by the incredible mix of artists that used to blast on our home stereo. I’m a storyteller by nature, influenced by unique heroes, sexy muses and a wise teacher disguised as a child. Those who’ve followed my career can hear the score of my life from the cathartic exercise of “Like A Blackbird” to the self-realization of “Race Against The Sky” to the joyful celebration of the New Release “STONE”. I’m deeply grateful to be doing what I love & I hope listeners feel it.”
What is your name? Kelly Moneymaker (yes, that’s my real name)
Where are you from? Fairbanks, Alaska
How long have you been making music? Since I was two years old. Wrote my first song at 11 years old and have been professional since I was 13.
How many songs /albums have you released to date? I’ve released four solo albums but I’ve also released two as a member of Exposé, one as a member of Silvermoney, wrote, produced and was a featured artist on Days of Our Lives Love Songs LP. I also write songs for TV/Games/Trailers/Films.
Can you tell us about your upcoming release and the background and inspirations behind it? My band and I left no stone unturned during the making of my previous album RACE AGAINST THE SKY so we named this album STONE to mark the strength and knowledge gained by that experience. STONE is also a tribute to my heroes such as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Sly & The Family Stone, Tina Turner, Parliament, Bonnie, Raitt, Tom Petty, Jimi Hendrix, Motown, Curtis Mayfield and more …
How have you ended up in the music industry? When I was two years old, my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him I was going to be a singer. Songwriting was a natural progression since I was into poetry. Production was the next step due to sheer desperation because I couldn’t afford to pay anyone else to do the job.
What do you think of the music industry in 2015? I think it’s exciting because artists who otherwise might not get a shot at a career (looks, age, location, whatever) are able to use innovative technology to create music at home. Some of my favorite artists have never had traditional airplay. It can be overwhelming sometimes so I think playlist curators will play an important role in the music industry’s future.
Who do you think the most influential artist? I can’t say who might be the most influential artist today. Everyone has different taste, which is what I love about music–it’s subjective. I can say who’s influenced me the most–the folks I mentioned previously as well as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Nick Drake, Elliot Smith, Tool, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, NIN, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Queen, Jeff Buckley, Sam Cook and wow! I could go on and on.
Who have you collaborated with so far in your career? I recently wrote a gospel song with Gloria Gaynor who is lovely. I’ve had the good fortune to write with Mike Krompass (Smashmouth, Natasha Bedingfield), Andrew Fromm (N’Sync, Selena Gomez), Michael Smidi Smith (Sia, Brittney, Kylie Minogue), Dan Silver (Moon, Back Seat Taxi), Stuart Mathis (The Wallflowers), Scott Bennett (Brian Wilson) and many other talented souls, but I mostly enjoy collaborating with my band (In The Black): Gabriel Moses (guitar), Herman Matthews (drums), and Michael Mennell (bass).
Dead or alive, who would be your dream collaboration? I would’ve loved to write with the dearly departed Jimi Hendrix or Sly Stone. I’m still hoping to write with Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt and Dave Grohl someday.
What was the first album you bought? Well, the first albums I borrowed from my big brother and never gave back were Queen’s “News of The World” and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of The Moon”. The first two albums I bought with my own money were Stevie Wonder’s “Hotter Than July” because “Lately” was and still is one of my favorite songs and Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell”. I have been accused of going to extremes.
What’s your favorite song at the moment? It’s a toss up between Gabriel Anthony’s “Warfare” and Lettuce’s “Don’t Be Afraid To Try” featuring Alecia Chakour.
Who is the most influential artist now, and 10 years ago? Hmm … The Foo Fighters were kickin’ *** 10 years ago and they’re still going strong today. I wanna send a shout out to Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson for bringin’ funk back into the mainstream!
If you had to sell your music collection tomorrow, what album would you leave in your draw? I refuse to answer that because I would sell my house, car, jewels (if I had some), clothes and pimp my husband before I would part with my music collection!!!
How do you think you differ from other artists? I think people who come to my live performances know I bleed for them and that’s why my voice sounds like it. I also have a warped sense-of-humor so I’ll be tender one moment and make you laugh your sweet cheeks off the next!
What is your favorite saying? Before we perform in the studio or live my drummer, Herman Matthews, will shout “Get Your Mind Right!”. I love it so much, we had to write a song with that theme.
What other hobbies or interests do you have? Spending time with family & friends is my favorite thing to do. I’m also a voracious reader; dig cooking and wine-pairing; collect vinyl records/vintage books/clothes/hats; kayaker, yogi, white-water rafter, diver (sky & water), write children’s poetry and stories; I’m a fierce environmentalist and animal lover.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings? My wedding ring is a Samoan bird which symbolizes “bravery when facing the unknown” which we both felt was appropriate. I also have a tattoo of Maitreya on my ankle.
Tell us more about your upcoming project or this new project? I just finished touring in the UK for my new album, STONE which was a blast! I’ll be heading to New York City the end of September to perform at Webster Hall to benefit the Coffee Music Project and Project Waterfall..
What’s in the pipeline after this project? In October I’ll be in LA to finish a holiday EP with Mike Krompass and my band! I’ll also be announcing live performance dates in Nashville shortly on my website www.KellyMoneymaker.com.
Thank you for your time and may you carry on making dope, fresh music.