Playing blues guitar with the rough-and-tumble power and virtuosity of such six-string heroes as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn, Kelly Richey has become a cult heroine among blues fans. Playing up to 275 shows a year, she's a seasoned road warrior who has also managed her own recording career, releasing music through her own label. She was born in Lexington, Kentucky on November 30, 1962. She was raised in a Christian household that showed no love for rock or blues, but she caught the music bug early. Though she struggled with dyslexia and ADHD, she had already taught herself to play piano and drums when she got her first guitar at age 15. Richey practiced guitar obsessively, and after four months, she was playing in a band. A year-and-a-half later, she was leading her own group, and not long after finishing high school, she was touring.
In 1986, Richey joined Stealin' Horses, a roots rock band with a major-label record deal. She worked with that band until 1990, when she decided it was time to strike out on her own. Richey relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio and formed the Kelly Richey Band, a power trio with her on guitar and vocals. In 1994, the band released their first album, Sister's Got a Problem. It was also the first release for Sweet Lucy Records, the label Richey formed to market her recordings. Her third album, 1996's Live at Tommy's on Main, became a word-of-mouth hit among blues fans, and helped take her music to a nationwide audience. Soon she was sharing bills with the likes of Joe Cocker, James Brown, Lonnie Mack, Albert King, Johnny Winter, and Warren Zevon. The versatile guitarist was also touring hard, usually with her own band, but also with occasional solo acoustic and electric gigs. Richey also released a steady stream of recordings via Sweet Lucy, dropping ten albums between 1997 and 2013. When not on the road, Richey is a well-regarded guitar teacher, offering lessons in person and via the internet. She is also a life coach who helps her clients find healing and inspiration, and shares her own lessons of overcoming drugs, alcohol, and educational problems. In 2012, she published her first book, a collection of poems titled Whisperings. ~ Mark Deming