Kelly Oliver is a singer-songwriter, guitarist and harmonicist, hailing from Hertfordshire and described by The Times as an artist who 'blends traditional with bold, indie-pop'. She came to performing music a little later in life than many other of the rising stars of the UK music scene. After graduating from Royal Holloway, University of London and then travelling around Europe, Brazil and Argentina, her passion for folk music was ignited with a visit to Ireland. It was there that she was exposed to traditional Irish folk music, and with her Grandmother having been born in Tralee in Ireland, Kelly was heavily drawn to the culture and especially the traditional music, played live with intricacy and passion.
Returning home to England, she began her musical career by playing support slots at folk clubs on the scene, including many at the prestigious Hitchin Folk Club, which happened to be her local. After supporting various high-profile acts such as Phil Beer (Show of Hands), Cara Dillon and Barbara Dickson, Kelly began playing her own headline shows and slots at festivals around the country. Since then, she has released two albums of her own original songs and has enjoyed many accolades for her work. Her debut album 'This Land', funded by an Emerging Excellence Award by Help Musicians UK, gained a 4* review from The Telegraph and her second album 'Bedlam' was included in The Sunday Times Essential New Releases and was one of Paul Sexton's Top 20 Albums of the Year in Prog Magazine. Her last five singles have all gained BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music airplay and she performed her 2016 summer single 'Rio' on BBC One's Sunday Morning Live for her first national TV appearance.
Kelly tours the UK predominantly as a solo artist and was awarded Best Female Solo Artist and Breakout Artist in the 2015/2016 NMG Awards, as well as winning Best Female Artist 2016 in the FATEA Awards. She attended the Folk Alliance International in Kansas, USA, as one of their Official Showcase Artists and has performed in Europe on a debut tour of Germany and in Portugal at Costa del Folk Festival.
Kelly released her third studio album, 'Botany Bay', on 28th September 2018. 'Botany Bay' is a full, traditional English folk album, made up entirely of traditional folk songs collected in Kelly's home county of Hertfordshire. The songs have all been arranged by Kelly and her producer Stu Hanna, with Stu's vibrant and punchy production complimenting Kelly's contemporary and distinctive style. The album features a prestigious list of guest musicians, including Phil Beer, Luke Jackson, Lukas Drinkwater and Jamie Francis, Toby Shaer and Evan Carson. Playing these traditional folk songs and her own original songs in her live performance, Kelly has been described as 'a vital voice in British folk music' - Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2.
Alongside acoustic guitar melodies and vocals, Kelly includes the stomp box and harmonica in her live show, which has led to sponsorship from leading harmonica brand HOHNER. Kelly has appeared live on BBC regional stations, including BBC London radio in an interview with Gaby Roslin and on Mark Forrest's national BBC Introducing show. Her singles 'Diamond Girl', 'Jericho', 'Rio', 'Same World' and 'Miles To Tralee' have all enjoyed numerous regional BBC and local radio plays, including on BBC Radio 2’s Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe, Bob Harris’ BBC Radio 2 Sunday show, Clare Balding's BBC Radio 2 Good Morning Sunday, Alex Lester's BBC Radio 2 After Midnight show and Chris Hawkins' BBC 6 Music show.
Kelly has supported acts such as Phil Beer (Show of Hands), Barbara Dickson, Thea Gilmore, CC Smugglers, The Young’uns and Cara Dillon, the latter gaining her a 'promising...blends traditional with bold, indie-pop' review from The Times.
She has performed live with Phil Beer, Dave Swarbrick, Niall Murphy, Lukas Drinkwater and Luke Jackson among many others. Kelly was also thrilled to record for the Whispering Bob Harris Broadcasting Company very early in her career and be interviewed by Bob himself for his “Under The Apple Tree Sessons”. Kelly is a member of the folk group The Company of Players, who released their debut album 'Shakespeare Songs' in January 2018 to critical acclaim.
Kelly is also very proud to be an ambassador for the charity Humanitas. It is a creative, grassroots charity that has worked for more than a decade to protect and care for some of the world's most vulnerable people and they specialise in working in areas of extreme poverty or crisis-critical regions. The charity runs a primary school in Ghana where they teach 210 children who otherwise would not be in education and the charity's medical team has offered life-saving treatment to hundreds of refugees living in camps around the world. To find out more about their work, please visit www.humanitascharity.org
“ a vital voice in British Folk.... a beautiful, pure voice’ Bob Harris BBC Radio 2
“a radical leap forward...sleek spirited arrangements...sense of spontaneity” Clive Davis, Sunday Times
“thought provoking songs that straddle folk and pop worlds..” Songlines Magazine
“fabulously gifted, something special” Chris Hawkins, BBC 6 Music
“ an exceptional lyricist” Penny Black Magazine
“distinctive and breathtaking vocals’ The Telegraph
“a striking degree of artistic and musical unity” Folk and Roots
“a remarkable acoustic folk singer and songwriter” FolkAll
“ A gifted and talented songwriter” FolkWords
“This really is a superb album, likely to be in the Folk album of the year lists” ShireFolk
“crosses musical boundaries, full of thought provoking lyrics & musical arrangement’ Folk Radio UK
“a remarkable voice” FATEA
“the album is just a delight” Bob Harris BBC Radio 2
“this is the album that will make Kelly’s career” R2 Magazine
“Three minutes of pop folk sparkle” Chris Hawkins