Community//

Darrell Kelley: “I would love to continue to inspire people to treat everyone equally, regardless of skin color”

I would love to continue to inspire people to treat everyone equally, regardless of skin color. That’s what I try to do with my music, and help people see things from a different perspective. I think people need to reflect on how they treat each other and express themselves and their feelings. As part of […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I would love to continue to inspire people to treat everyone equally, regardless of skin color. That’s what I try to do with my music, and help people see things from a different perspective. I think people need to reflect on how they treat each other and express themselves and their feelings.


As part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer, and political activist Darrell Kelley, the message matters as much as the music. Blending together gospel, pop, and R&B, Kelley uses his skillful vocals to inspire not only positivity — but change… And in a year of explosive injustice, tragedy, and uncertainty, he’s striking a chord with listeners.

A political/ social commentator for our times, Kelley has amassed a dedicated following through his heart-rending, topical tracks, including: “Police Brutality” in tribute to George Floyd,” “Release the Transcripts” calling for justice in the tragically mishandled Breonna Taylor case, and “Vote Him Out” — a 2020 Election ballad condemning President Trump’s “shameful” stance on the explosive racial justices of the past year.

“I’m always using my platform to drive change,” says Kelley of “Vote Him Out.” “I’m continuing to use my voice to bring attention and hope to the black American experience.”https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/759c6e9b80a44c932fdf086bd41548f1


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in Boston, and while I always had a love for music, it really took a back seat to other life responsibilities. As a teenager I had to work multiple jobs to help support my family while attending trade school.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have loved music since I was young. I looked up to my Uncle, William Baskin, who performed himself as well as managed other artists. I would perform at competition shows in school and even though music wasn’t my focus for a while, it was always a hobby of mine. I would hire musicians to perform at my restaurant all the time and then eventually I launched my own label to help other artists. In 2014, I finally began writing and recording my own music on occasion. By 2018 I had 3 albums’ worth of beautiful music and it felt like it was time to chase my dream of becoming an artist.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Recently, my music has been centered around the injustices happening against people of color and I have been trying to help shine a light on those injustices. I was able to play my song “7Times” which was written in honor of Jacob Blake Jr., in front of his father, Jacob Blake Sr. He liked the song a lot and it was an honor to be able to let him hear the song.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It’s funny, I never meant to start a music career, however the artist that I signed stood me up on a session because he wanted to go to a club. I told him that business is business and I already paid for everything for him. The venue kept calling me asking me when is the artist coming and I said “he’s on his way” and then I showed up without the artist. They asked where the artist was and I said” I am here,” and so it began.

Next thing I knew, I forgot about all the artists I wanted to sign and I kept doing song, after song, after song. One of the mistakes I’ve made in my career early on was not having the confidence I needed. Over the years, this has definitely changed and I am excited of what’s to come.

What exciting projects you are working on now?

Well, I just released my latest single called “Vaccine” which touches on the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have recently been approved to be used and so I was inspired to get out how I was feeling about it. I also have a feel-good, lighthearted single called “Merry Christmas To You” that I hope brings some cheer and fun this holiday season.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers why equal representation/ giving voice to artists from diverse backgrounds is so important and the impact it has had?

Diversity and equal representation in music is incredibly important. Music comes from people of all different backgrounds, and getting representation from different communities makes everyone feel welcome. Allowing people to hear a variety of music also helps listeners expand their horizons and find out what they truly like. When people listen to music from people they are not used to, they are able to see life from a different perspective which helps you understand what someone else may be going through, and that can make a huge impact on how we treat each other.

Which tips would you recommend to other artists to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I would say to find the purpose behind your music and love what you do, that makes it not feel like work. If you believe in your music and the change your music brings on, it makes it a lot easier to push forward.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would love to continue to inspire people to treat everyone equally, regardless of skin color. That’s what I try to do with my music, and help people see things from a different perspective. I think people need to reflect on how they treat each other and express themselves and their feelings.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

I am a very religious person and I believe in UWGEAM which is an acronym that stands for God of the universe, God of the world, God of all gods, God of everything, and God of anything including me. I know none of this would be possible without God. However, I would like to thank my uncle William Baskin who was my musical mentor and was always on stage and performing in churches. He serves as an inspiration to me and continues to inspire me to this day.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Every time something positive happens I always say “wow.” When my song ‘Police Brutality’ hit number one on the in the world music charts I couldn’t help but say “wow.” After that, my song ‘Merry Christmas to You’ hit number one on the in the world music charts, and “wow” was all I could say. “Wow” is very relevant to me because it’s amazing what can happen in our world today even amidst all the chaos.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world — who would it be, and why?

I’d love to get lunch with Don Lemon, I have always looked up to him and admired the way he uses his platform to push for equality.

How can our readers follow you online and on social media?

My official website is https://darrellkelleyofficial.com/.

My Instagram is darrellkelleyofficial

My Twitter is @_darrellkelley

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!


    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Darrell Miller of Fox Rothschild: “Don’t Quit”

    by Karina Michel Feld
    Community//

    Rising Through Resilience: “Mistakes don’t upset resilient people; Rather mistakes fuel resilient people” with Kelley Thornton of Tiege Hanley

    by Alexandra Friedman
    Community//

    #SHEROProject Kelley Kitley’s Story- Breaking Free From Shame

    by Dawn Burnett
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.