10 Things to Know About Tori Kelly

Soulful singer makes easy transition for debut in movie musical

By Lindsey Caldwell, Jennifer Dill Dec 08, 2016 12:05 PMTags
Watch: Tori Kelly Opens Up on Making Film Debut in "Sing"

Tori Kelly turns 24 today, and even though she's already accomplished so much, she still continues to rise to the top.

Following her debut album, Unbreakable Smile, which dominated the charts and went platinum in the US after its release last year, people began buzzing about the star's talent. And since then, she has gone on to win multiple awards, sang a tribute to the year's fallen stars at the 2016 Emmy Awards, and is now lending her voice to the new animated movie Sing.

So, just who is this blond bombshell with some serious soul taking over the charts? Here are some things you must know!

Universal Studios; Getty Images

1. She Makes Her Movie Debut in SingTori lends her voice to the upcoming film as Meena, a teenage elephant who struggles with stage fright when attempting to audition for an American Idol-esque talent competition; something we're sure Tori herself knows a lot about, given her history with the hit singing competition show.

You can hear Tori, along with co-stars Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey, show off their vocal talents when Sing hits theaters December 21st. 


2. She Proved Simon Cowell Wrong: When Tori auditioned for season nine of American Idol, Cowell said he thought her voice was "almost annoying" and though she did go through to Hollywood, she didn't make it into the top 24 of her season.

But given all the success she's had since 2010, we have a feeling Cowell might be regretting that statement (and sending her home!)

3. Not an Overnight Success: One thing is for sure, she does not give up! When her album was released in 2015, Tori uploaded a candid YouTube video, confessing, "It's been 10 years since I was signed when I was 12."

Tori chokes up in the clip, "I gave up a few times, and now the albums out and it's No. 1. So, I'm really overwhelmed." After years of hard work, writing, and performing, Kelly says, "My dreams are coming true. This is crazy!"

Eric Jamison/Invision/AP

4. Stars Are Aligned: It seems like every day a new celeb is tweeting their support or sheer amazement at Tori's voice. After her 2015 Billboard Music Awards performance, John Legend tweeted, "Tori Kelly with the vocal performance of the night." Ed Sheeran—who duets with Kelly on her song "I Was Made for Loving You"— tweeted in agreement with Legend, "For me @ToriKelly killed it tonight."

The band Rixton tweeted, "Congrats @ToriKelly. We know how hard you've worked. Amazing watching you grow as an artist. Go get it folks. X"

Still in awe of the attention she's received, Tori told E! News at an Elle Women in Music event, "It's pretty awesome. I go on Twitter a lot too, and low-key stalk myself. It is cool just to see people you've looked up to, and respect as musicians, be supportive of me. Honestly, I still geek out over the sort of straight-up fans. The fact that they've stuck with me this whole time is pretty amazing too"

?? @samsmithworld @teddysphotos

A photo posted by Tori Kelly (@torikelly) on

5. She Made Sam Smith Cry! Tori told iHeartRadio, "It was my song 'Paper Hearts,' which is, it's like the saddest song on my EP. He's heard me sing and stuff before and he's heard that song before, but I think just I might have caught him in a moment or something. Because he left and then afterwards, the lady who was with him like texted me and was like, 'Yeah, he was crying and like had to leave.' But yeah, he's one of the sweetest people I've ever met and that was really flattering to hear that my song touched him that much."

Justin Bieber admitted via Twitter he also teared up listening to Tori singing Hillsong's "Oceans." Kelly joined a group that was playing in Central Park for the cover. 

this is how excited i am for tour. check out the new video on youtube.com/torikelly

A photo posted by Tori Kelly (@torikelly) on

6. She Likes to Mix It Up: Tori's YouTube page is filled with covers of all different genres. Her cover of Frank Ocean's "Thinkin' 'Bout You" has over 25 million views!

She has also brought country duo Dan and Shay on stage at her concert, and they performed a little rendition of "Thinking Out Loud."

7. She's Humble: Even though Tori's fame continues to skyrocket (she now has 2.7 million followers on Instagram!), she remains down-to-earth.

She told her fans at one of her concerts, "Nobody's purpose is bigger or better than another person's purpose. We all play a part in this."

Lester Cohen/WireImage

8. She Can Play Guitar Flawlessly. One of the biggest criticisms in the music industry is that many singer's can't also play instruments- but that's not the case here, as Tori reminded everyone who had never seen her perform before during the 2016 Emmy Awards. Seated with an acoustic guitar, the singer belted out the late Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" during the show's "In Memoriam" segment, bringing a tear to everyone in the audience's eye.

9. She Has Connections to Justin Timberlake. Last year, Tori was named an ambassador to clothing line William Rast, created by JT and his friend Trace Ayala. She announced the partnership with a video remix of her song "Should Have Been Us," and in the clip, the Grammy nominee dons the brand's fashionable gear during a hot date out on the town.

Scarlett Johansson Rocks With Her Porcupine Sing Character

we fangirl over food

A photo posted by Tori Kelly (@torikelly) on

10. She's a Foodie: When E! News caught up with Tori at the Elle's Women in Music event, she told us, "I geek out over food." In fact she said, one of the best parts of Taylor Swift's Billboard Awards after-party was the food! "They had sushi, and mini burgers."

Tori told iHeartRadio nobody loves food like she does! She joked, You should see me on my cheat days. It's kind of insane. It's like my main talking point now. In every event, it's food. It's become kind of like an event now, I just go nuts. It's exciting, and then I get sick, and then only want to eat plants for the rest of my life."

(Originally published Jun. 24, 2015, at 4:42 p.m. PT)