Kelly cannot remember a time before she considered herself a musician. Just as Ray Charles once said, "I was born with my music inside of me. That's the only explanation I know of." Born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC, Kelly was involved in music-related activities ranging from church choirs and worship teams to school bands and choruses. While Kelly began taking piano lessons at the age of four, it wasn't until her early teen years that Kelly began to write her own music. “I can still remember when it all started. I had just purchased Jewel's debut album “Pieces of You” and was completely mesmerized by what I heard.” says Kelly. “Jewel wasn't afraid to be vulnerable. Listening to her music was like hearing the journal entries of a soulmate. I was so inspired that I pulled out a notepad right then and there and began to write. I've been writing on a regular basis ever since.”
During these teen years, Kelly also began to develop a passion for knowing Christ and making Him known. “The Lord drew me to Himself at a very young age. I was very fortunate to grow up in a godly home and to have many spiritual role models that poured into my life during these years. I was so blessed.” After graduating high school, Kelly moved to the New York City area to study music at Nyack College. She then transferred to Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, to finish her degree as a Worship and Music Ministries major. During these years she continued to be involved in worship teams, both on campus and in the local church. Her relationship with the Lord, passion for ministry, and musical abilities continued to develop during these years.
As Kelly's faith began to deepen, so did her heart for the lost and the struggling believer. “I've always had a lot of friends who either struggle with their faith or don't share my faith at all. I guess I just gravitate towards people who are searching. I may know what I believe, but I also understand what it's like to struggle internally. I had a tough time learning how to understand and accept myself growing up, especially during the high school/college years. Who knows where I'd be spiritually without the upbringing I had. It's always bothered me when Christians don't want anything to do with those who don't believe or live exactly as they do. Christ befriended all kinds of people during his years on earth. It was His love that convicted souls and changed lives. I want to live like Christ, be His hands and feet, and live out His message of unconditional love. I believe that this is what it means to be a Christ follower.”
After graduating college, Kelly moved to Atlanta, GA, to pursue a career as the Director of Music and Curriculum for a children's performing arts center. Between her new job and new church community of friends, life as Kelly knew it was smooth sailing. “Everything was great. If someone had told me what the next two years of my life was going to be like at that point, I would have laughed in their face and told them to leave me alone. But then the hard times came. At first I lost my job unexpectedly. The details of how it all happened made for a very heartbreaking situation. The worst part was that it robbed my passion for music and replaced it with nothing but painful memories. I literally packed my instruments up and didn't play or sing for months. Was the Lord there? Yes. Did I turn to Him? Sadly, I began to do the opposite. It happened so gradually that I barely even realized it. But slowly I began to lower my standards and compromise in areas I never had before. I still claimed to love the Lord and deep down still had a desire to serve Him with my life. But my heart had become so numb. I was definitely not living for Him in my daily walk.”
However, even in the midst of this season, God was still at work. A defining moment came during a chance meeting with an old friend, who, realizing how much Kelly had lost herself, challenged her to move forward, rediscover her passions, and pursue her dreams to the glory of God. “That night I wrote “Let Me Fall” in response to this encounter. It flowed out like water bursting through a river dam. With shaking hands and teary eyes, I realized that music was still inside of me. I was ready to share it with the world again.”
As Kelly began to move forward, God began to open doors. “I put “Let Me Fall” on MySpace and within a few months was contacted by an A&R rep who wanted to present my music to major record labels.” A couple of labels entertained offers with Kelly, but she decided to remain unsigned while developing herself as an artist. Now more motivated than ever, Kelly continued to write music. And as she did, more people began to take notice. “I started my MySpace page with about 100 friends. I now have over 10,000. The response has been humbling and exciting. My recordings were by no means professional. I think people were just able to relate to what I was putting out there.”
But God allowed a wake up call to take place in Kelly's life. “I was pursuing my music career wholeheartedly, but my relationship with God was still not where it should be. Because of this, I had to learn a very tough lesson the hard way. My entire world was rocked. The snowball effect led to some significant losses and damaged relationships. It brought upon my life great feelings of rejection, loneliness, and low self-worth. This was hands down the most painful experience I have ever gone through, much more that the original trial that had led me there in the first place."
However, through the brokenness, God began to really dig at Kelly's roots and heal her from the inside out. “It's not as if one day I just woke up completely fine. It has been and continues to be a lengthy recovery that I am still learning from to this day. But this is what I can say: God used the situation to bring me to my knees and to a place of complete surrender." The Lord has also given Kelly a heart for the broken. “I have learned that God has our best interests at heart when He asks us to live for Him instead of for the world. He wants to spare us from the pain that sin inevitably causes. But He also is faithful to forgive His children when they mess up and literally look at them though they've never sinned. This is a truth that we will probably never fully grasp this side of heaven. His grace truly is amazing! When I look back at the slimy pit I was in and see the solid rock He has placed under my feet, I want to share my testimony with others, that I may be able to offer a message of hope to those who feel hopeless. Christ died for us in order to love us to wholeness. The enemy wants us to believe that the love of God can only be earned by our goodness. But there is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less. It doesn't matter what you've done or where you've been. Even when others turn against you, the love of the Lord is unconditional and unfailing. And it is in His love alone that you are made complete."
Kelly Murray has continued to pursue her music career, this time refocusing on her original passion: to use music to serve the Lord. “This time it's not about me. It's about using my music to make His name more famous. And I'm starting to learn that those tough circumstances were never meant to be dead ends, but opportunities for character to seep in like rain and allow me to grow. For that, I can be nothing other than thankful. ” In May 2008, Kelly won a songwriting contest through Songwriter's Universe for her well liked tune, “Like I'm Beautiful.” Kelly has also performed in several of Atlanta's local music events, including the annual 500 Songs For Kids charity fundraiser and the Annual Atlanta Music and Blues Festival. Kelly recently joined the artist roster of Arrow/New Line Management. Scheduled for a release in Febuary 2009, “Like I'm Beautiful” is just the beginning of Kelly's budding music career. “My music is a work in progress, and I'm looking forward to the journey whatever it may hold. I hope you'll come along for the ride as I continue to share my message of hope and help fight battles beyond my own.”