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Kelly Willis

Real name:
Birthdate: N/A
Status: Single

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Kelly Willis is a country music singer-songwriter, whose music has been described as contemporary country, alternative country and new traditionalist.

Born in Lawton, Oklahoma, U.S. on October 2, 1968, Willis was the youngest of three children. While her father was a U.S. Army colonel, Willis’ mother had a strong interest in music and sang and acted in amateur musicals. Willis began singing when she was nine as a way to comfort herself after her parents divorced. After the divorce, Willis and her siblings lived with her dad and moved around the country to accommodate her father’s military job. She spent her middle school years in North Carolina and her high school years in Annandale, Virginia.

Willis also experienced upheaval in her personal life. After marrying high school boyfriend Mas Palermo in 1989, he and Willis divorced in 1991. In 1992, Willis met Austin singer-songwriter Bruce Robison. They had a tumultuous relationship for the next few years. After several years of dating, Willis and Robison married in 1996.

MCA embarked on a big marketing campaign to tout Willis after she recorded her first album on the label, the 1990 album Well Travelled Love. MCA ensured that Willis was interviewed by several national magazines including unusual venues like Vogue and Mademoiselle. Her voice appeared in the 1991 Ridley Scott-produced movie Thelma and Louise, singing "Little Honey." Willis also had a small part in Tim Robbins’ 1992 film Bob Roberts. Despite of all the publicity and positive reviews from most reviewers, Well Travelled Love and Willis’ subsequent albums for MCA (Bang Bang in 1991 and Kelly Willis in 1993) sold modestly and received very little radio play. During this time, Willis felt uncomfortable with the way she was marketed by MCA. In 1994, MCA released Willis from her contract.

Willis continued to pursue her music career after leaving MCA. In 1996, she recorded an EP for A&M Records entitled Fading Fast. However, her relationship with A&M was short-lived; after working with two major labels, Willis dec,ided to record her next album on her own. Her efforts resulted in the 1999 album What I Deserve, which Willis sold to Rykodisc after finishing the album. What I Deserve received quite a bit of press after the album’s release. It was commonly seen as Willis’ response to her history with MCA, and was uniformly praised by critics, becoming a hit for Willis.

Starting in 2005, Willis and Robison appeared in television and radio commercials for the anti-allergy product Claritin .

In Fall 2007, Willis released Translated From Love. It was recorded at Robison's studio, Premium Recording Services, in Austin, TX and produced by Chuck Prophet, formerly of the band Green On Red. The album is co-written by Willis, Prophet and notable songwriter Jules Shear, and includes a cover version of Iggy Pop's "Success."


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