Rising Music Stars Kelli & Jaymie of The Belles: “Don’t be afraid to take chances to find out who you truly are; there’s nothing wrong with trying things out, that’s how you find out”

Kelli + Jaymie: Don’t be afraid to take chances to find who you truly are. You have to be brave to say things in a way no one has ever said them before, you have to take chances to find out who you are, and there’s nothing wrong with trying things out, musically, vocally, and […]

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Kelli + Jaymie: Don’t be afraid to take chances to find who you truly are. You have to be brave to say things in a way no one has ever said them before, you have to take chances to find out who you are, and there’s nothing wrong with trying things out, musically, vocally, and in your style — that’s how you find out what works and what doesn’t, what feels natural and what doesn’t.

I had the pleasure to interview rising music stars, The Belles. Born in Nebraska and raised in Country, Kelli and her mother, Jaymie are having the time of their lives as the duo The Belles, making history as the first mother-daughter duo to rise to stardom since The Judds. Having already charmed audiences across the nation opening for the likes of Dan + Shay, Brett Eldredge, Old Dominion and more, 16-year-old superstar Siwa, a dear family friend from Omaha, afforded them the opportunity of a lifetime to join her out on the road for the 82-show tour which kicked off on May 17 in Phoenix, AZ and wraps October 2 in Providence, RI. When it comes to lead vocals, Jaymie lets Kelli take the spotlight. She says, “I like to think of myself as the setting and Kelli as the diamond.” Kelli, a recent college graduate, has relocated to Nashville to continue her reign as a fixture in the Nashville songwriting community while her supportive mother stays behind in Omaha. The Belles released their debut-self titled EP in 2018, enlisting award-winning producer Mickey Jack Cones (Thomas Rhett, Runaway June, Lionel Richie) for his expertise on the project. In between tour dates, The Belles in the studio working on their next project slated to release this Summer.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Jaymie: I actually began singing because I was raised in a house full of music and my sisters and I loved to sing together and write our own songs. (Our mom taught us how to sing harmony.) I felt the happiest when I was being creative and I loved to put words to music. I picked up the guitar when I was 14 and that pretty much changed my life. Eventually my sisters and I signed to MCA Records in LA in 2000 as an acoustic pop band, and toured the world.

Kelli: I grew up watching my mom and her sisters sing together and I loved to hear their harmony. It was what I knew I always wanted to do. When I was in Kindergarten we had to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up and I said “singer.” My mom and I fell into our duet very organically. She had started a solo singer/songwriter project and I asked to be her backup singer when I was 14. Then after a couple shows, the stage manager for The Judds happened to be the stage manager at a festival and he saw us play, and told us we should become a duo. I wanted to do this right away but my mom had to think about it. After a couple months I convinced her that we should really do this! We wrote some songs together and thought of our band name, and started making trips to Nashville in the summer. I went to regular high school but graduated early at 16, and started into college. We began to book a ton of shows from country bars to fairs and festivals. I moved to Nashville at 19 and I began an online college program and just graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha this past May! Now we’re on an 86 city national tour with JoJo Siwa, playing arenas all over the US and Canada!

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?

Kelli: There has been a lot of really crazy coincidences and stories that have occurred on this journey. I think the most interesting story involves something fairly recent — how we got on tour with JoJo Siwa. JoJo is originally from Omaha, Nebraska. Just like us! JoJo’s mom, Jessalyn, was my dance teacher and the choreographer for my mom’s band! I’ve known JoJo since she was about 2 and I was about 6. We’ve stayed friends and followed her journey to the incredible success she has achieved. Late one night, Jessalyn texted us that they were looking for an opening act for JoJo’s D.R.E.A.M. The Tour. She asked us to come audition in LA in 3 days! We quickly bought tickets from Nashville to LA and started preparing an audition set. A week after we auditioned, Jessalyn and JoJo FaceTimed us from Target saying that we got the tour! Who would’ve thought we’d get to go on an 86 date arena tour with a childhood best friend?

What are some of the most exciting projects you are working on now?

Kelli: Right now, I’m most excited about the music video for our new single “Beautiful Girl.” We just released this song on July 12th and the reaction we’ve gotten from fans has been so so amazing. This song is all about girl empowerment and self confidence. The music video reflects that in a really special way. Can’t wait for our fans to see this! We are also working on a new EP of songs that I truly love. I spend a lot of time in Nashville songwriting and I co- wrote every song on the EP but one. I love every single song on this new project and I’m so happy to have gotten to record them. Look for that EP soon on Spotify and iTunes.

Who are some of the most fascinating people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Jaymie: We’ve met so many amazing people on our journey in music. One of my favorites was opening for Kenny Rogers when Kelli was just 15. He said such positive things about us, and told us to keep working hard and that we had something special. Another very cool event was playing Song Suffragettes one Monday night in Nashville in January of 2018. In that writer’s round that night was 5 female singer/songwriters who are all blowing up huge right now, including Madison Kozak and Alana Springsteen. It is pretty special to feel like we all met each other then, and now are cheering on each other.

Kelli: I would have to say one of the most fascinating people is JoJo, who we’ve known forever, but at age 16 is just one of the most confident and savvy people both on stage and off. She understands her brand so well, and speaks her mind. She just reached 10M subscribers on YouTube, and I’m so inspired by her vision and talent.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

Jaymie: The people who inspire me most in history are women who do things that before their time was unheard of. Like Amelia Earhart, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift. There are always more boundaries to break through. I feel like Kelli’s generation is going to do amazing things!!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Jaymie: We like to play our music in settings where people are “stuck.” We think that does so much good to lift their spirits. Last week we played for Mt. Sinai Children’s Hospital in NYC and they asked us so many questions it was so much fun for both us and them. In our hometown of Omaha, we play a couple times a year at QLI, which is a long term care facility for spinal cord injury patients. We play originals and covers there, because they really enjoy hearing songs that they know, and we take the time afterwards to walk around and chat with everyone. We want to continue doing good in every city we travel to because we feel so blessed and we want to always give back.

You are people of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Kelli: I just graduated from University of Nebraska Omaha with a degree in NonProfit Administration. As part of my degree, I wrote a grant proposal for a potential organization I would like to start. My idea was the North Omaha Performing Arts Center. This would be a place for underprivileged youth to go after school for music lessons, school tutoring, and dinner every night. NOPAC would specialize in teaching skills like DJing, sound engineering, and music production while providing all the necessary technology for kids to learn. I think this center would greatly improve the lives of many students by giving them a safe place to go after school, while teaching them skills that could potentially lead to a fulfilling job.

Which tips would you recommend to other artists starting out in the music industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Jaymie: I think the best advice is to work with fun and positive people. Especially when we are touring on our own, driving our 15 passenger van and trailer (right now we’re on a tour bus) but the times spent in our van with our band were just the most fun times. If you work with people who love what they do, even when it’s super hot outside, or the stage is very small, you can always find something to laugh about and enjoy. I would say Kelli and I have really enjoyed our journey because we just had, and continue to have some wonderful people around us.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Kelli + Jaymie: Don’t be afraid to take chances to find who you truly are. You have to be brave to say things in a way no one has ever said them before, you have to take chances to find out who you are, and there’s nothing wrong with trying things out, musically, vocally, and in your style — that’s how you find out what works and what doesn’t, what feels natural and what doesn’t.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

We would love to have lunch with Warren Buffet! He’s from our hometown of Omaha, and every year he hosts the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting in Omaha. People come from all over the world to attend. We’d love to sit down with him and have lunch. Us Omaha folks stick together!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Our website is BellesMusic.com and from there you can find links to Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. We hope your readers will follow us on our journey!!

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