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Rising Star Kelli Sae: “Why I’d Like To Start a Movement To Have a Self Confidence Day”

You are kind. Thank you. I’d like to start a movement of “Self Confidence.” We could call it “Self Confidence Day!” We could use the acronym “SCD!” Too often too many of us are judging ourselves based on the images we are seeing on social media and the media in general. Caring too much about […]

You are kind. Thank you. I’d like to start a movement of “Self Confidence.” We could call it “Self Confidence Day!” We could use the acronym “SCD!” Too often too many of us are judging ourselves based on the images we are seeing on social media and the media in general. Caring too much about what others will think of us and how we’re seen,. We are comparing ourselves to these filtered, manipulated images. We’re injecting crazy things into our bodies. We are looking at the lifestyles we see depicted in some reality shows and think this is what we need to be happy. What ends up happening is it creates a feeling in many of not good enough. Not measuring up. I’d like to create a movement that uplifts people to remind them of their natural beauty and their infinite blessings.


Kelli Sae is a New York-born and bred Performer, Singer, Songwriter, Composer, Comedian, and Playwright. Born of Puerto Rican and African descent, her music is a masala of sounds, cultures, and influences that drive her instincts.

Kelli has worked with Tina Turner, Paul Simon, Seal, Bishop Briggs, Adrienne Bailon, Jordan Sparks, Chaka Kahn, Eddie Palmieri, La India, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Lionel Richie, Angelique Kidjo, Sheila E, Eric Gadd, Ashford & Simpson, Philippe Saisse, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Meshell N’Degeocello, Darlene Love and many more.

Kelli Sae has released three solo albums independently on her own Kwurk Arts Group Entertainment label. In between those albums, Kelli has recorded and been featured on countless records. She has toured the world as lead vocalist for Global Jazz Funk Collectives Count Basic and Incognito. Kelli and Peter Legat (the Founder and Band Leader of Count Basic) were the recipients of the prestigious Amadeus Award, and have been inducted into the esteemed Wall Of Fame in Vienna.

Kelli is also a Principal Vocalist Monday night’s on ABC’s hit Reality Television Show Dancing With The Stars where she is one of the Principal Vocalists. Other Television shows she’s worked on are Rising Star as a vocal coach and The Singing Bee.

In Kelli’s spare time she is a Vocal Coach, Mentor and Public Speaker. She enjoys connecting with people and the next generation of artists coming up in the industry. Kelli says “it’s an honor to pass along my knowledge and experience.”

“The depth and realness of her performance and songwriting is undeniable and downright intoxicating. You’re pulled into Sae’s world within seconds…”- Billboard Magazine

“Sae sings like she’s saving your soul, raising the roof, as well as the hair on your arms with her glorious noise.” — CMJ Music Report

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

I’m happy to do it. Thank you for your interest.

I grew up in The Bronx in Hunts Point which is known as The South Bronx. It’s the inner city and pretty hood. It has had a huge impact on my life and I credit it in many ways for shaping my character.

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

I come from a musical family. In our home for as long as I can remember, there was always music playing. In good times and not so good times, it was what always brought us together. I remember being a little girl and always feeling so happy when I sang and danced. The defining moment for me choosing this career path is on a school trip we went to see the Broadway Play “Dreamgirls” and I watched in awe. Afterward, we were allowed to meet the cast and have a chat. I spoke with one of the main characters, Sheryl Lee Ralph about me wanting to pursue a career as a singer and she encouraged me to follow my dream. I listened! Recently I met her at a health event and I got the opportunity to tell her how she impacted my life. It was a special moment for me. She was very gracious.

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

I think the most interesting story I have to share is the time I dislocated my knee during a performance. I was dancing and singing and the next thing I knew, I collapsed- right there in the middle of the song! My knee was on the side of my leg! I thought it was broken. Suddenly some stagehands came to help and one said to me “look away and take a deep breath.” I did and next thing you know it was back where it belonged! I left for a song and had it wrapped up and was back on stage a few minutes after. Crazy!

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?

I love to go out into the audience and dance with the crowd. Once I jumped down from the stage and then couldn’t find my way back on. They had to bring up the lights and guide me back! Ridiculous! What I learned from that experience is to learn about the venue. I know I’m an interactive performer so now during soundcheck, I make sure I locate all of the ways to the stage and back! Ha!

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

At the moment I’m super excited about my One Woman Show “Disco, Dicks & Dykes!” I’ve been working on it for 3 years and finally, I’m presenting it on February 29th at Joe’s Pub in New York City. In addition to that, I’m working on a new album.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is crucial and long overdue in the entertainment industry.

It’s important to depict the world as it truly is. America is a melting pot and I feel the images and characters we see should reflect that. There are so many talented people that don’t get a shot because of some box they don’t fit in. I’m happy to see things are slowly changing. Diversity gives hope to that little child dreaming about one day having a career in entertainment. Diversity evens the playing field. Diversity equals opportunity.

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

  1. Don’t take things too seriously. I remember I would lose sleep if I hit a wrong note.
  2. Learn to laugh at yourself. You have to find the humor in things. Laughter is medicine.
  3. Everyone won’t like you and that’s ok. I used to care if someone didn’t like me and try to figure out why so I could try to turn it around.
  4. Be yourself. At the start of my career, I didn’t know who I was. All I had to do was be me. Being unique is good! Why didn’t anybody tell me that?
  5. Follow your gut. Let your instincts guide you. They’re never wrong. I used to think I need many opinions to help me decide everything. In the end I’d end up confused and annoyed that I listened to bad advice when I knew better.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I like to meditate at least twice a day if possible. I don’t pressure myself with the length. Somedays I have more time than others, so I do what I can. It definitely helps me stay centered and focused on what really matters. I make sure I also take time to spoil myself. A soaking bath or massage. I also make time to surround myself with people I love and love me for me. I try to keep learning and trying new things, new hobbies or interests keep me feeling supercharged. I read a lot to stimulate my mind. I try to do something for someone else — a random act of kindness. Giving without expecting a return is good for the soul. I create a routine and try not to let anything get in the way of my “me time.”

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂

You are kind. Thank you. I’d like to start a movement of “Self Confidence.” We could call it “Self Confidence Day!” We could use the acronym “SCD!” Too often too many of us are judging ourselves based on the images we are seeing on social media and the media in general. Caring too much about what others will think of us and how we’re seen,. We are comparing ourselves to these filtered, manipulated images. We’re injecting crazy things into our bodies. We are looking at the lifestyles we see depicted in some reality shows and think this is what we need to be happy. What ends up happening is it creates a feeling in many of not good enough. Not measuring up. I’d like to create a movement that uplifts people to remind them of their natural beauty and their infinite blessings.

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?

Both of my parents were incredibly supportive. But my Dad in particular always instilled positive thoughts in my brain. He was big on “hard work pays off” and “never give up you can do anything you put your mind to vibe.” He definitely had the tough love approach and never coddled me. I’d complain about something and he’d give me another way that was positive to look at the situation. Then send me off to go for it!

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

My favorite “Life Lesson Quote” is — “You can’t change the situation, the only thing you can change is how you choose to deal with it.” This is a quote that has become my mantra. I practice this all the time. It’s helped me in some work situations and also in my love life. *wink*

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? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’d love to have breakfast or dinner with The Choreographer Lorieann Gibson. I find her very inspiring, powerful and authentic. Whenever I see her in an interview I’m always uplifted! I love her energy and think we would get along.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On Instagram:kellisae

Twitter: @kellisae

On FaceBook: @KelliSaeMusic

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

My pleasure. You are so welcome. Thank you!

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