Tori Kelly Sings With A Choir In Full-Circle Moment Performance of "high water"
Tori Kelly Sings With A Choir In Full-Circle Moment Performance of "high water"
Tori Kelly performs on the Disney Aulani stage.


Tori Kelly was a contestant on Season 9 of American Idol (2010). The California native auditioned for the show at just 16 years old, performing a rendition of John Mayer’s “Gravity” for judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi, as well as guest judge Victoria Beckham.

Cowell had some harsh feedback for the young singer, telling her: “I don’t think so at all, I think your voice was almost annoying.” The other judges disagreed, with Beckham noting that she had “the whole package” and “the best voice to date.” With three yes votes and one no from Cowell, Kelly advanced to Hollywood Week. For her second performance, Kelly teamed up with fellow contestants Maddie Penrose, Danny Jones, Mark Labriola and Kimberly Kerbow in a group dubbed “The Mighty Rangers.” The group delivered a performance of Ne-Yo’s “Closer,” but only Kelly and Penrose advanced. Following Kelly’s solo Hollywood Week performance, in which she sang Katy Perry’s “Hot n Cold,” she was informed that she did not make the Top 24.

Kelly did not let the elimination hold her back, though, and she continued to make music. In 2012, released her self-produced debut EP Handmade Songs. The following year, music mogul Scooter Braun became her manager and she signed with Capitol Records. She released her second EP, Foreword, in 2013 and her first studio album, Unbreakable Smile, in 2015. The latter ranked No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and its hit lead single, “Nobody Love,” ranked on the Top 100 chart.

In 2016, Kelly was nominated for Best New Artist at the 58th Grammy Awards. Her second studio album, Hiding Place, was released in 2018 and won two Grammy Awards. She went on to release three more albums after that and another EP. She’s also collaborated with some of the biggest artists in the industry, including Ed Sheeran, Pentatonix and Lecrae, among others. In addition to singing, Kelly has lent her voice hit animated movies Sing and Sing 2, starring as Meena.

It's safe to say that Simon was wrong.  Just as he was with Jennifer Hudson.

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