A native of Lorena, Texas, singer/songwriter Kimberly Kelly has spent years in both the Texas and Nashville music scenes earning an education through experiences that have made her both fearless in her approach to creating and unafraid to defy convention when it comes to industry expectations. Those years of hard work, all while also earning a Master’s degree and working fulltime, culminate today with the release of her label debut I’ll Tell You What’s Gonna Happen via Toby Keith’s Show Dog Nashville in partnership with Thirty Tigers. Listen above.
“I’m feeling a mix of emotions with the release,” Kelly shares. “I feel like I’m letting go of the ace in my pocket, yet at the same time so proud to share this batch of songs that I believe in!”
Fans can also catch Kelly at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum on Saturday, July 23, at noon CT for a Songwriter Session along with album producer Brett Tyler and one of the songwriters featured on the album, Bobby Tomberlin.
Off stage, Kelly possesses an inviting warmth mixed with sly self-deprecation, a winsome combo only earned with some life experience, self-awareness and nothing to prove on stage just the goods to stop a listener in their tracks. “This is not my first rodeo,” Kelly adds of her label debut. “I worked really hard in Texas before I came to Nashville. I wrote songs, put out records, did a radio tour, and played every weekend while going to school and working full-time.”
The album is already earning kudos including praise from iconic singer/songwriter and fellow Texan, Radney Foster, who shares, “If you like your Country music with fiddles and steel guitars, melodies that soar and a singer who unapologetically sings with a twang, you will love Kimberly Kelly. She’s a great songwriter and her timeless voice delivers power and emotion on this fun but often poignant collection. Don’t try to drive while you’re listening to ‘Person That You Marry.’ Don’t ask me how I know.”
Produced by Brett Tyler, Kelly’s husband and a hit songwriter himself with No. 1s like “Cold Beer Calling My Name” under his belt, the album’s title is a clever nod to her friend and fellow Texas musician, the late Country Music Hall of Famer, Billy Joe Shaver.
The abbreviated quote comes from the better-than-fiction-true story of Shaver forcing his way into a Waylon Jennings recording session after the star tried to renege on listening to some of his songs. Brushing off a $100 bill to go away, Shaver said to Jennings, “I’ll tell you what’s gonna happen. You’re gonna either listen to these songs or I’m gonna whip your ass.” Waylon agreed to listen to one. The rest is history in the form of Jennings’ 1973 Honky Tonk Heroes album, on which every song but one was written by Shaver.
“I landed on this album title on a dare,” Kelly says mischievously. “I was like, ‘Sure. What do I care?’ I did the Texas music scene, I’ve done time in Nashville, and I thought my time had passed when I got offered my record deal. My husband could keep writing songs and I’d just be a speech therapist. So, I made this album like it’s the last one I’ll ever get to make and the title is my mantra so to speak. I love good songs, and I let the best ones win whether I wrote them or not. It’s a compilation I’m proud of.”
The album’s release follows nostalgic song-of-summer ready track, “Summers Like That” which left Billboard praising Kelly’s “warm, lifting voice,” “Blue Jean Country Queen” featuring Steve Wariner as well as Kelly’s take on Shaver’s “Black Rose,” which closes out an album that unintentionally became a tribute to the late country music legend.
“Billy Joe was such an important part of my journey into music, and since we used his quote as the title of the album, it just seemed like we should end with one of his songs,” Kelly adds. “We listened to his entire catalog and just couldn’t decide what to cut. We landed on this one thinking we could tell it from Billy Joe’s point of view. He was strong in his faith, but also an outlaw. ‘The second time I done it on my own.’ I can relate to that line. Sometimes you do something again just because you want to.”
Kelly continues, “We put the voicemail he left me on the end of the track to bring it all the way around. When we started recording, I didn’t set out to make a tribute record to Billy Joe, but I love how this whole project came out and I will always love him.”
I’ll Tell You What’s Gonna Happen Track List:
“Honky Tonk Town” (Jessi Alexander, Jessie Jo Dillon and Brett Tyler)
“Some Things Have a Name” (Bob DiPiero and Troy Johnson)
“Summers Like That” (Karyn Rochelle and Bobby Tomberlin)
“Why Can’t I” (Bob DiPiero and Karyn Rochelle)
“I Remember That Woman” (Kent Blazy, Cindy Blazy and Karyn Rochelle)
“Blue Jean Country Queen” featuring Steve Wariner (Kimberly Kelly, Brett Tyler and Steve Wariner)
“Don’t Blame It On Me” (Ben Danaher and Brett Tyler)
“Forget The Alamo” (Don Rollins and Wynn Varble)
“Person That You Marry” (Kimberly Kelly, Lori McKenna and Brett Tyler)
“No Thanks (I Just Had One)” (Dale Dodson and Wynn Varble)
“First Fool In Line” (Byron Hill and Tammi Kidd)
“Black Rose” (Billy Joe Shaver)