Kelly Oliver lives in North Hertfordshire and comes from a working class family, with no previous connections in the music scene. Listening to Bob Dylan, Alanis Morissette and Dolly Parton from a young age gave Kelly a passion for music, and an influential immersion into her grandmother's Irish culture created a musical inspiration for her self penned songs. After graduating from Royal Holloway, University of London, working in a local bar for a year and then travelling around Europe, Argentina and Brazil, in spring 2013 Kelly decided that on her return she would pursue a career as a singer/songwriter.
The years that followed went by in a whirlwind and 2016 saw Kelly awarded Breakout Artist at the Cambridge NMG Awards, after winning Best Female Solo Artist at the same awards in 2015. She was awarded Female Artist of the Year 2016 in the FATEA Awards and her 2016 album 'Bedlam' was Runner Up for both Crossover Album 2016 by Folk Phenomena and Best Album from a Female Artist from Folkwords. She travelled to Kansas City USA in February 2017 to attend the largest folk conference in the world, the Folk Alliance International, as one of their Official Showcase Artists. Her earlier travels around Brazil inspired her summer single 'Rio', released in 2016 by Folkstock Records, and it was been played on BBC Radio 2 by Bob Harris, Alex Lester and Clare Balding, as well as BBC 6 Music by Chris Hawkins. Soon followed an interview on ITV News Anglia about her inspiration for 'Rio' and Kelly performed the song live on BBC One's Sunday Morning Live for her first national TV appearance.
A mixture of original material and traditional songs, Kelly's debut album 'This Land' was funded by an Emerging Excellence Award from Help Musicians UK and was released in 2014 by Folkstock Records. It gained her a Best Album By A Female Artist award from Folkwords, 4* album reviews from R2 Magazine and The Telegraph Music and was included in The Telegraph’s 68 Best Folk Albums of 2014. It features legendary fiddle player Dave Swarbrick and also earned a nomination for FATEA Magazine’s Best Debut Album of 2014.
A mixture of original material and traditional songs, Kelly's debut album 'This Land' was funded by an Emerging Excellence Award from Help Musicians UK and was released in 2014 by Folkstock Records. It gained her a Best Album By A Female Artist award from Folkwords, 4* album reviews from R2 Magazine and The Telegraph Music and was included in The Telegraph’s 68 Best Folk Albums of 2014. It features legendary fiddle player Dave Swarbrick and also earned a nomination for FATEA Magazine’s Best Debut Album of 2014. Kelly completed her first headline album tour in Spring 2016 to accompany the release of her second album 'Bedlam', which gained a 4* from R2 Magazine, was included in The Sunday Times Essential New Releases and was one of Folk Radio UK's Albums of the Month.
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.
Festival credentials include a prestigious Club Tent Showcase slot at Cambridge Folk Festival, Folk by the Oak, Larmer Tree Festival, Secret Garden Party, Camp Bestival and Standon Calling and 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.
Kelly has performed live with Dave Swarbrick, Niall Murphy, Lukas Drinkwater, Tobias ben Jacob and Luke Jackson among many others. She 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 new 10-piece folk group The Company of Players which features Said The Maiden, Lukas Drinkwater, Chris Cleverley, Sam Kelly, Minnie Birch, Kim Lowings and Daria Kulesh. 2017 sees the group releasing an album of original material, as well as embarking on a headline UK tour.
"an amazing young songwriter” Mike Harding
“ 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
“Sounds great doesn’t it? A wonderful new single from Kelly Oliver. It was inspired by her travels through Brazil, it’s produced by Nigel Stonier and features Thea Gilmore on backing vocals. Released on the Folkstock label, the track is called RIO” Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2, 7Aug