Written by Emily Smith
Music provides a source of inspiration for a lot of people, and has the power to be a part of the healing process throughout hard times. For up-and-coming musician and devoted mother Kelly Torres, music is a way to provide a source of inspiration and hope for others as it did for her when she was younger.
“My mother stayed home to take care of my sisters and I, and she died when I was twelve. Even though I had all the time in the world with her for twelve years, when she was gone, all I wanted was more time,” she says. During this time, Torres found music to be a saving grace for her. “Through my teens and twenties, music was my steady counselor when the world came crashing down around me,” she says. Torres knew that she could provide that same kind of healing to others through her music and reach others the way her favorite musicians reached her. “I love the idea that I can pay it forward and offer people music to see them through whatever it is they’re going through.”
Torres’ younger years were pivotal for her, whether it was because of the life-changing death of her mother, or her exposure to music. Even back then, she had the talent to pull off difficult vocal performances. Torres recalls her first live performance: a solo in a choir where she sang some of ‘When You Believe’ from The Prince of Egypt. “I had the opening line that Whitney Houston sings, and you better believe I practiced my face off!”
To craft her “moody, beautiful, [and] haunting” sound as she describes it, Torres takes inspiration from orchestral music and film scores. “I listen to them often,” she says. A big inspiration for her is Hans Zimmer. “The way the music sets up a story to elicit as much emotion as possible from the viewer is pure magic.” She would find joy in doing a collaboration with him. “Who doesn’t want to sing in front of a symphony?”
Balancing life between being a musician and a mother requires hard work, but Torres definitely pulls it off. “I make it a point to do something every day,” she says, “I do my best to work around my toddler’s sleep schedule.”
When it comes to her songwriting process, Torres comments,“I start with a concept first, and brew over it for a while before I sit down at the piano. Then I look for piano parts that sound like the emotion I’m trying to portray in the lyrics.” Emotion is definitely a big part of her work, and plays a key role in nearly every aspect of her songs – the lyrics, vocal performances, piano work, everything. Torres asks this question every time she writes: “Is there a more dramatic way to say this?”
“I’m a sucker for drama,” she says.
The emotion she evokes and the authentic sound of her songs comes from real life experiences. It is the inspiration behind all of her material. “Life has given me plenty of great material that’d be a shame to waste.”
Torres always makes it a point to do what she can with what she already has when making music. “I take a step back and look at what I can do with what I do have, little by little, by the grace of God, I’m chipping away at achieving my goal rather than doing nothing by sulking in a pity-party.” It’s that drive that makes her music shine, even with limited resources around her.
Another challenge that Torres overcomes beautifully is something that everyone is familiar with: doubt. Finding a way to balance her career as a musician and being a mom has its difficulties, but Torres stays positive in her situation. She says, “Every hurdle forces me to become more resourceful…and trust God to take care of what’s out of my control.” Overcoming these hurdles even serves as an inspiration to keep going. “Finding that sweet spot that allows me to keep my family at the top and pursue my dream is something I’m figuring out as I go.”
With all of her experience, Torres’ main piece of advice is to have passion. “Passion is the only thing that will get you through to the other side,” she preaches, “If you can own what sets you apart from the crowd and commit to being authentic as an artist, your passion will remain strong enough to drown out those voices telling you to ‘give up.’”
Recently Torres has released an EP titled “How We Really Feel,” which she describes as an “emotional rollercoaster” and a peek into her deepest thoughts and theories on life. Check out our official review here. A favorite song of hers is “In This House,” which she wrote for her daughter. “She was eight months old when I started this project, and all I could think about (and still think about) was giving her a good life and a safe place to return to.”
Torres one day dreams of sharing the Grammy stage with a long-time favorite of hers, Celine Dion. Her ultimate goal, however, would be for Disney to send a script for her to write songs for, or to write a musical herself.
At the end of the day, she really hopes to be able to earn a decent living making music: then she’d truly feel like she’s “made it.”
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