Tori Kelly is going back to her roots.
When the coronavirus pandemic forced us all to begin sheltering in place, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter may have retreated to the safe confines of her home, but that didn't mean the music stopped. Instead, she allowed the unique moment in human history to serve as inspiration for a collection of tracks, produced in a fashion similar to her early days on YouTube.
The end result? Solitude, a dreamy five-track EP comprised of four sumptuous midtempo originals and one breathtaking Drake cover.
"I've never been more thankful for my home studio than I have during this season of being quarantined," Kelly shared in a statement earlier this summer when announcing the EP. "In some ways, it felt like I was going back to my roots, when I would be in my room, making songs and posting covers on YouTube. A lot of change has happened since my last album, so it felt great to just freely write what was on my heart and be inspired by different stories. I had so much fun creating this EP and I'm excited to share this new chapter of my music."
In honor of Solitude's arrival on Aug. 14, E! News asked Kelly to pull back the curtain on the artists and albums that have influenced her throughout her life and career. This is the soundtrack to her life.
The song/album that reminds me of childhood: Gold by Crystal Lewis. As a kid, [she] was such a huge influence for me, vocally, and this album in particular has so many memories attached to it!
The first album I remember buying: Celebrity by NSYNC. I begged my mom to buy it for me because all of my friends were already making up dances to all the songs at sleepovers!
The song/album people might not expect me to love: "Gunslinger" by Audioslave. I love the melodies in this song and when the whole band unexpectedly comes in, I always have to head bang.
The song/album that makes me think of falling in love: "St. Patrick's Day" by John Mayer. This whole album has a special place in my heart but this song in particular just makes me feel all mushy and lovey dovey every time I hear it. The lyrics are so beautifully intimate.
The song/album I turn to when I'm at my lowest: "I Smile" by Kirk Franklin. This is the best pick-me-up song ever. It always gives me hope and reminds me that every day is a new day and we always have so much to be grateful for!
If I could only hear one song for the rest of my life, it would be: "Bluebird" by Alexis Ffrench. This might be one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. I discovered it on a flight while looking for some relaxing music to help me sleep and I ended up crying off and on throughout the song. There aren't even lyrics but no matter what mood I'm in, this song never fails to sweep me away.
The song/album that's guaranteed to get me turned all the way up: "Shackles (Praise You)" by Mary Mary. Every time I hear this song it gets me so hyped! I grew up listening to Mary Mary so I definitely have all of their ad libs memorized. I love playing this song before I go on stage.
The song/album I wish I wrote/recorded: "You And I" by Stevie Wonder. I mean, it's Stevie Wonder. I just love the simplicity in the lyrics of this song and the chords are so beautiful and classic. On top of all that, the vocal performance is incredible especially when he goes up high!
My own song that I'll never get tired of performing: "Confetti." This is one of the first songs I ever released almost 10 years ago! Every time I perform it, it just feels brand new and relatable in whatever stage of life I'm in.
My own song that I'll be happy to retire: "Mr. Music." This is one of my oldest songs and every time I hear it I just start laughing because I sound so young. However, this is right when I was starting to produce my own music so it's kind of cool to look back on and hear how much has changed! No regrets!
The song on my new project that I can't wait for fans to sing along with me on tour: "Value." I can totally picture my fans singing along to this one, especially in the chorus! It's definitely a fun song that I could see everyone dancing to.
Solitude is available now.