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Irene Kelley

A native of Latrobe, PA, Irene Kelley first started playing music in a Led Zeppelin cover band in high school. She got herself kicked out, however, for suggesting that they might try playing a Dolly Parton song, laying the groundwork for her first steps toward country music. At 19 she got her first guitar, a new Cortez with inlay work that she bought because she thought it was pretty. Soon she began composing the songs that would help pave her way to Nashville. One of her first releases was a song entitled "Pennsylvania Is My Home," which ended up being nominated for the Pennsylvania state song (unfortunately it didn't make it). A live performance of it, however, did end up being part of a PBS documentary and was one of the songs that she sent to various music publishers in Nashville, eventually attracting the attention of Gordon Payne at CBS Records. A few demos later, she landed herself a recording contract with MCA and in 1983 relocated to Nashville with her husband. MCA released two of Kelley's singles, "You Are a Rock and I Am a Rolling Stone" and "Love Is a Hard Road," but scrapped the full-length album that she had recorded for them. Kelley kept writing, however, and penned songs that would eventually be recorded by Loretta Lynn, Trisha Yearwood, and Ricky Scaggs, among others. Producing another album would be a much longer process, as Kelley focused on her family, raising two young daughters. In 1999 she released her album, Simple Path, on her own label, aided by a talented supporting cast of Nashville musicians. The album earned enough attention and critical praise that it was picked up for national distribution and re-released in 2001 by Relentless Nashville. ~ Stacia Proefrock, Rovi
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