(AllHipHop Features) R&B is on the rise again in popular music thanks in part to a crop of talented artists who have embraced the Blues tradition with a 21st century alternative twist. One voice that is ready to help drive a new age soundscape incorporating lyrics of love and love lost is Roc Nation songstress Bridget Kelly. BK is a member of an emerging class of young singers like James Blake, Elle Varner, Elijah Blake, Jhené Aiko, RO James, RaVaughn, and Sebastian Mikael that represent the New Wave R&B generation.
“I think R&B right now is really eclectic. It’s a little alternative. It’s a little left. I think artists like Miguel and Frank Ocean and the Weeknd have made it really easy for us to now make records that really speak to every genre that we want to touch and still be true to our R&B roots,” says Kelly. “It’s still about love. It’s still about heartbreak. It’s still talking about raw emotional stuff and really intense feelings. I think that we’ve taken a lot of the elements that have made classic R&B so great and have evolved them to this new sound.”
Kelly’s acceptance of blending various genres of music can be traced back to her childhood in New York City where she grew up listening to The Beatles, Otis Redding, Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Nicks. She later embraced female vocalists like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Brandy, and Alicia Keys.
Recognizing her own talents Bridget enrolled at the highly celebrated Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts also known as “The Fame School.” Kelly graduated a few years behind superstar Nicki Minaj and a few years ahead of rising star Azealia Banks. Other notable LaGuardia alum who went on to success in the music industry include Slick Rick, Kelis, Jean Grea, and Wynter Gordon.
“When you’re a teenager you feel like you’re a misfit, and you’re always trying to figure out who you are and what you stand for and what you want to do with you life. I feel like had it not been for the performing aspect of my high school I would not have finished. I probably would have dropped out, and who knows what I would have been doing,” says Kelly. “Music really kept me focused. It gave me a sense of confidence and self-respect. I was able to dig deep inside myself and figure out who I was and how I felt about things and be able to express myself in a positive way.”
The Grammy award-winning songwriter is now set to express herself through her upcoming album Something Different. Originally, Kelly had plans to channel the scorned woman angst similar to Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” or Kelis’ “Caught Out There” for a rock-influenced project, but ultimately chose to stick to a more R&B sound revealing her healing process from a failed relationship.
“I was going through a really bad break-up at the time, and I was angry. So I really was just wanted to blow stuff up and set people on fire,” explains Kelly. “The more I got into my story and my relationship and what I wanted to say the more hurt I realized I was. So the anger kind of transformed into hurt. I had to come to grips with the fact that I couldn’t just make an angry girl album.”
Bridget has already released the soulful song “Special Delivery” where she pens an emotional letter to a man who broke her heart. On the flip side, her current single “Street Dreamin’” is the story of a woman who has found the lover of her dreams. The tune features a sample of Tupac Shakur’s “Got My Mind Made Up” and a verse from Los Angeles emcee Kendrick Lamar.
“I didn’t really anticipate having a feature until after I recorded it, and I felt like it needed a little more flavor. The track itself sampled a 2Pac record, so I really wanted to get somebody from the West Coast on it, and who better than Kendrick?” says Kelly. “When I sent it to him it was kind of on a whim like, ‘If you like this then get on it.’ Within 24 hours he sent me a verse back, because I guess he was feeling it. So that’s how it came about. It was a blessing to have him be a part of that record.”
Something Different will be Bridget Kelly’s first full studio album released through Roc Nation following her 2011 EP Every Girl. Bridget signed to Jay Z’s label after she and her manager pursued the newly formed company for months. Her initial pursuit of the Roc was around the time Jay was leaving Def Jam to start Roc Nation, so Bridget jump on board at the ground level. Now she has a music legend/veteran label head in her corner, and according to Kelly that level of hands-on assistance is immeasurable.
“[Jay Z’s] been very receptive and having a direct line of communication with the person that runs my label is crucial,” states Kelly. “To be able to go to Jay and play records and he can be like, ‘Ehh, not really. This is not going to make the cut. This should make the cut. If you do this song, you shouldn’t do this song.’ He’s really been a tremendous help in that way.”
Bridget is set to drop her next single “Goosebumps” in the near future. She describes the song as “sexy” and “sultry” and reveals she is preparing to film a video for the track. Listeners can expect to hear the singer elaborate on how she wants a man to please her when “Goosebumps” finally hits the airwaves. As for the album, BK is not ready to announce when the LP will be released but makes it clear that Something Different is not far from reaching fans playlists.
“If I throw out a release date and it gets moved or whatever… I’d rather just wait until I’m sure the exact date it’s coming out before I advertise it,” Kelly explains. While she has not committed to an official date yet, Bridget is confident that she has found her voice as an artist.
“It takes to get know who you are as an artist. If you don’t love it. If it’s not something you’re passionate about, and you don’t really know who you are, or what you want to say, or what you want to do, it doesn’t make any sense to put anything out. So it’s taking me awhile to really get it right, but I think I’m there. I think I’ve arrived.”
Follow Bridget Kelly on Twitter @theycallmeBK
Watch Bridget perform “Thinking About Forever” in the video below.