Ontario’s Kelly Prescott has just released her song “Hillbilly Jewels” to country radio. The song – written by her brother Kalen – tells the story of her musical roots that run through generations of Browns and Prescotts. When you see Kelly performing live, you’re in store for an entertaining time. She delivers great songs and comedic lines with equal flair. Her vocals have been described as “smoky and sultry”. 2017 is shaping up to be a breakout year for this multi-talented artist.
Congratulations on your nomination for Roots Artist/Group of the Year at the upcoming CMAOntario Awards. How does it feel to be recognized this way?
Thank you so much. It’s an honour to be nominated for Roots Artist of the Year, especially alongside everyone in this category. There is some incredible talent out there and for my peers to believe that I belong here means the world to me. I’ve been working hard at this for a long time, so the recognition at this point feels pretty great.
Pick an influence on your musical life and tell me why they had an impact on you.
I’ve been influenced by so many great artists, but I think the biggest influence was all of the session players and artists I grew up watching in the studio. Being raised in that environment meant that I was surrounded by world class musicians. Each one of them played a big role in my life and my music – people like Ken Post, John Dymond, David Kalmusky… the list goes on and on. I owe them a lot of credit.
You’re a third generation singer-songwriter. Country music fans know the musical legacy of the Browns and the Prescotts. How did growing up with that background influence your path?
Growing up in the music business showed me both the good and bad sides of this industry. I feel so blessed that I was exposed to it from such an early age. I was on stage by the time I was 4 and I was either in the studio or on the road soaking it all up. I was a little musical sponge. I was raised by a whole musical village. Not too many people have that background, and I am grateful for all of the experiences and the people that influenced me.
So many guests of mine on the podcast have a Patricia Conroy story. You grew up knowing her. Tell me about that relationship and your experiences writing with her.
Patricia is another name I can add to that list of influences. She has been in my life a long time. Like my Mom, she was an incredible female role model. She is a force to be reckoned with. She is talented, funny and charming. I looked up to her so much and I still do. She is one of my favourite people to write with. We also toured together when I was about 18. I’ve been on the road a lot, but those are still some of my best memories! It’s impossible not to have fun with that girl!
Who’s on your dream duet partner list and why?
Well, Buddy Miller was at the top of that list, but I got to cross that one off when he sang on “Coming Home To You”, a song off of my latest EP. I would say Emmylou Harris or Ryan Adams. Oh, and Vince Gill and Dolly Parton & Amos Lee. I feel like this list could get pretty long if I don’t stop now.
How personal does your songwriting get? Is it ever difficult to be vulnerable in your music?
I think a lot of the songs I’ve been writing lately are quite personal. There have been some huge changes in my life this past year which have really influenced my writing. I think of myself as a pretty tough person, so I actually find it easier to be vulnerable in a song than in real life. It’s like therapy for me.
Are there any songwriting tips you can pass along to newer writers?
Keep writing. Be creative in some way every day, even if it’s small. Constantly push yourself to be better. Don’t be afraid to learn and don’t be afraid to take constructive criticism from people you trust. It will make you better. Be open to writing with new people. The more you get out of your comfort zone, the more you will grow!
When you’re not writing, recording and performing, how do you like to spend your time?
Spending time with my family. I love getting out of the city and heading back to the Prescott ranch to hang with my Nephew. I’m a country girl, so I need my outdoor time too. Cooking is another big one. No matter what’s going on in my life, the moment I’m in my kitchen with a glass of wine, creating a dish, all is right in the world. When I am in the city, I’m out most nights checking out other bands. I love Toronto for that. The live music scene here is so rich and inspiring.
Your EP “Hillbilly Jewels” is awesome. In what way are you a hillbilly jewel?
I’m a diamond in the rough. I was raised on 84 acres overlooking a lake and even though I had a pretty worldly upbringing, I’m a country girl through and through. My heart is always in the Ottawa Valley. I also know my worth and I believe I’m a true gem, if I may say so myself – ha!
When will we get to hear new music from you and what can we expect to hear?
I’ve been on a writing spree lately; new music is just pouring out of me right now. I’m back and forth from Nashville a lot this year, working on new demos and getting ready for the next EP. I’m pretty excited about the direction I’m heading in and I look forward to sharing some new tunes before the year is up.
Dave Woods is a monthly columnist for the CMAOntario and has been hosting the popular online radio show In The Country with Dave Woods for 8 years. To hear episodes, please visit www.inthecountryinterviews.com, www.soundcloud.com/dave-woods-3 and iTunes.