Amidst all the hoopla over Kanye West running for president in 2020 and Miley Cyrus being Miley Cyrus, one performance at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards had many viewers asking, “Who was that?”
Singer Tori Kelly helped put the “music” back into the VMAs with a simple yet stirring performance of “Should’ve Been Us,” from her debut album, “Unbreakable Smile.”
Here are five things to know about the 22-year-old California artist:
She can really, really sing.
These days, not many artists want to sing live, but that’s not an issue for Kelly, who grew up in a musical family and plays multiple instruments.
Kelly told MTV that it’s all about the music for her.
“My performance kind of came naturally this time around because I really wanted it to be about the music first,” she said. “Of course I know the song, because I’ve been performing it for so long, but I really just wanted it to be about the song and the music, nothing too crazy stage-wise, at least with props and stuff like that. I wanted to focus on the simplicity of the music and strip it back.”
Simon Cowell didn’t dig her.
In 2010, 16-year-old Kelly auditioned for season 9 of “American Idol,” and judge Simon Cowell called her voice “annoying.”
She made it through to the next round but did not secure a place in the top 24.
YouTube helped make her a star.
Kelly had fans even before she had a big record deal.
Her YouTube channel featured her singing covers and attracted hundreds of thousands of hits. We love that she still posts to it.
Look who she knows!
In 2011, Kelly did a duet with fellow social media star Todrick Hall, singing Beyonce’s “Best Thing I Never Had.”
We love that they are both now coming to fame, with Hall’s new MTV show “Todrick” premiering the day after his friend Kelly slayed at the VMAs.
She put it out in the universe.
In 2009, Kelly tweeted about wanting to attend the VMAs. Wish granted.