Before pursuing his passion for music, Kelley was an art major and a golf star at the University of Mississippi. Now 23 years old, he'll be touring this summer with the Dave Matthews Band. Kelley recently finished a tour with Third Eye Blind.
The Augusta, Georgia native says his time in college helped inspire the title of his album. Many students burn CDs with a mix of music for their ride home after a school semester, Kelley explains. So, he created a CD with different moods for others to take "for the ride home."
In a time when many artists are publicly asking fans not to support computer peer-to-peer music sharing, Kelley has to thank the technology. His big break didn't happen in a club, but on the Internet.
He recorded his songs and compressed them into computer files for uploading to Napster. Eventually, after persistent online self-promotion, his songs reached the ears of a record executive who signed Kelley to Hollywood Records.
The artist continued to fine-tune his performances by touring in small clubs in the South.
Kelley says making music is important to him. His mother gave him his first guitar at age 11. And, along with his younger brother Charles, Kelley formed a group called Inside Blue. When he was 14, Kelley's band cut a five-song CD.
The "Southern rock, pop and soul" CD led to an introduction to the "Godfather of Soul," James Brown, who gave Inside Blue a nod of approval. It was a moment Kelley remembers with pride.