An interview with music artist and social activist Darrell Kelley

by | Aug 9, 2022

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Darrell Kelley is a performer, singer, songwriter, social activist, spiritual leader, author and entrepreneur. Where injustice prevails, Kelley has been known to plunge headlong into the fight to seek justice, understanding, acceptance and unity for one and all.

Beginning his career as a Gospel recording artist, Darrell Kelley eventually made the crossover to the contemporary R&B / Hip-Hop genre formats. His songs address both secular and non-secular subjects with not only deep insight but often with humor.

1 In Music: What is unique about you and your music?

Darell Kelley [DK]: I’m always looking for and finding new ways to express myself musically. When I first entered the music business as a professional, I worked only in the very narrow format of Gospel music. But the more I was involved, the more it became apparent I’d be able to extend my talents by focusing on the R&B / Hip-Hop genres. That decision has served me well, my friend.

1 In Music: What or who shaped your music and who supports you?

DK: There are far too many influences that have not only shaped me as an artist but also as a person. But if I were to name one, it would be social activism. The injustice of our current legal and economic imbalance pains me to the point I’m willing to crusade in my life and my art to right these wrongs. Many have commented that when they listen to my material.

What I’m trying to do is change the world one song at a time.

And with that statement, I do concur.

1 In Music: When did you realise you were going to make music professionally?
DK: Realizing and actually doing were two different events. I realized I wanted to be involved in the arts when I was a child. I first did something about it on the professional level around five years ago. Since then, I’ve not looked back.

1 In Music: What type of music do you listen to?

DK: My taste is eclectic, so I listen pretty much to everything except the same thing over and over again. For me, music is akin to breathing, and let me tell you, brother, breathing the same breath repeatedly, well, Jack you’re dead, particularly in music!

1 In Music: Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?

DK: That would have to be Lizzo. Even though she’s adored throughout the world, her talent is so immense that we, mere mortals, may never understand the extent of the value of her work. Lizzo is a person who’s not afraid of speaking truth to power. I do love that woman and her music!

1 In Music: How do you prepare for your performances?

DK: Easy, and I can sum it up in three words: practice, practice, practice… Reminds me of the old joke of someone getting into a taxi carrying a violin and who asks the driver, “Do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall? And of course, the driver’s reply is those exact three words. LOL!

1 In Music: What do you do when you don’t do music (creative or otherwise) and that you are passionate about?
DK: I’m an entrepreneur and I have my fingers in many tasty pies. Among these, I’ve been involved in owning and flipping property, opening restaurants, and consulting. Even started my own religion and served as its bishop. I’ve worn more hats than a Mad Hatter in my professional and personal life.

1 In Music: Success to you is…?

DK: Three little words: health, health, health… If you don’t have your health then what else you possess pales in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy stacking dollars as much as the next guy, but no matter how much fame and fortune one has if you don’t have your health, then at the end of it all, you’re truly a pauper.

1 In Music: What do you wish you were told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?

DK: Don’t do it! No, I’m just joking. But what I’ve learned over the years is that the dream and the desire are not enough. You not only need a plan and to stick with it but you need to frequently reassess. It’s okay to change course in a career – but it’s never okay to just give up – you must harness that tenacity, baby!

1 In Music: Any upcoming projects?

DK: Always, and I’m planning to release a new project titled “F12” next week. I promise you, when you listen to it and hit the thirty-second mark, you’ll get up and begin to dance. Believe me, I’ve witnessed this effect on the few I’ve allowed to pre-audition “F12”. It’s infectiously extra fit, lit, and totally bop, man.

1 In Music: Where do we find your music?
DK: On Spotify,  YouTube