Never Stop Dreaming! Darrell Kelley Reconnects with Destiny
By Perry Athanason // November 23, 2020
Darrell Kelley knew from an early age that music would play a significant role in his life. As an adolescent in Boston, Darrell unknowingly cultivated his musical prowess while hanging out with family, friends, friends of family, and listening to the magic of Motown icons.
As Darrell grew, he looked for every opportunity to engage in his musical desires, backed by an innate talent he was beginning to control. He entered talent shows, sang in front of his bedroom mirror, and put on impromptu concerts for his family, friends, and neighbors.
Darrell took every opportunity afforded to him, including practicing his vocal range and dance moves while emulating some of music’s biggest names, including Michael Jackson, Patti Labelle, and one of the greatest musical geniuses of our time, Prince.
Darrell seemed to be on the road to musical success. He competed in talent shows with bands like New Kids on the Block and faced off against Maurice Starr of New Edition.
Without hesitation, Darrell admits that he doesn’t give much thought to which path to take when he approaches crossroads in his life. He opens his heart and mind and marches forward with unapologetic truth, with himself or with others.
The paths Darrell traveled took him away from the musical dreams and desires he once held dear and placed him on a path of entering the workforce to help support his family.
Darrell explains how growing up poor set him on a path of working two jobs while earning his high school diploma through an after-school project. He later attended a trade school and re-directed his naturally charismatic personality into a successful sales career.
Then, Darrell started to reap the benefits of hard work and dedication. He began to make money. After engaging in several successful ventures within the real estate market, Darrell entered the restaurant scene, opening a soul food restaurant in Morrow, GA, appropriately named Soul Delicious Grill and Buffet.
Darrell admits that rediscovering music later in his life came unexpectedly.
“I hired the gospel/soul group Joseph Wheeler and the New Praise Band to play there regularly,” said Darrell.
“I would joke with the musicians that I used to sing and was thinking about getting back into it. Each year, we hosted an employee appreciation dinner concert to showcase local artists, and I would take the stage to perform a new song I wrote.”
Writing these songs and performing at his restaurant during anniversary dinners stirred something inside that had been long dormant.
Soon after, Darrell found himself writing more songs and started recording them with local producers. This led to a growing catalog of music packaged as Darrell’s first EPK (electronic press kit), which began to gain positive traction and attention.
Darrell had reconnected with music, and all the dream-filled passion of performing found a new purpose in his life.
“What was great about getting back into music was having people cheering for me and loving my songs,” said Darrell.
“I realized I could make an impact through performing and singing. As my music was being promoted on college radio, and I started charting, I found a new interest in mentoring local artists in hopes of helping them focus on their talents and passions.”
Reconnecting with music later in life gave Darrell a stronger sense of purpose and an outlet to heal from the pain many of us face in our lives.
For Darrell, losing his mother and brother ushered in a period of deep soul searching and nostalgic journey into his life thus far. Darrell turned to write songs and recordings as a soundtrack to that journey and to help him address the emotions of losing people of great significance in his life.
Darrell emerged stronger and with a broader sense of faith in who he was as a person and an artist. He emerged emotionally mature and strong with a clear understanding of what it meant to truly realize those intangible dreams he had held as a child and young man.
Today, Darrell continues to write music, record, and perform, while taking every opportunity in helping other artists realize their talents and dreams.
His songs are charting worldwide, including rankings on the World Indie Music Charts, the DAR Regional Charts, the Euro Indie Music chart, and the NACC (North American College Charts).
“I plan to continue writing and performing as a way to share the beauty of good music,” said Darrell. “I want my message to be positive, inspirational, and a lot of fun.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Perry Athanason is a seasoned communications professional and writer with nearly 20 years of national and international experience. Perry started his career writing feature stories for the Miami Herald and reporting for the New York Times Miami Bureau covering hurricanes, politics, and current events. His international experience spans nearly ten years and more than 30 countries when social media was gaining influence as a viable platform. He was among the first wave of communication professionals to synthesis new communication technologies with dynamic, meaningful content to raise awareness and support organizational goals for a variety of national and international non-profit and for-profit organizations.