Paul Maurice Kelly AO is an Australian rock music singer-songwriter and guitarist. He has performed solo, and has led numerous groups, including the Dots, the Coloured Girls, and the Messengers. He has worked with other artists and groups, including associated projects Professor Ratbaggy and Stardust Five.
Despite being one of the most significant and talented singer/songwriters to ever come out of Australia, Paul Kelly has never really achieved the status of 'superstar', because his music, which is best described as 'poetic' and 'harmonious' was never mainstream enough to attract the crowds of INXS, never controversial enough to attract the Midnight Oil fans, never rocking enough for the Jimmy Barnes fans, and never constant enough for the John Farnham fans.
Paul Kelly may be a singer, but his music is poetry, sheer poetry. Incredible songs such as 'To Her Door', 'Before Too Long' and 'Tease Me' are simply musical poetry. Kelly, always one to recognise this, has released a book of his song lyrics, called 'Don't Start Me Talking'. The Kelly bloodline is also talented. Paul's daughter Memphis Kelly starred in 'One Night The Moon' with him and is also in a band (Wishful) with her twin sister Madeleine.
His nephew Dan Kelly is also a famous singer/guitarist in Australia, playing with Paul on his latest album, and releasing an album of his own. Paul is married to actress Kaarin Fairfax. He has also written the music for several Australian movies and still continues to record albums today.
· Name: Paul Maurice Kelly
· Born: Adelaide, South Australia, 13 January 1955
· Australian singer and songwriter
· One of eight children
· Chart stoppers include 'Dumb Things' and 'To Her Door'
· Quote: 'Song-writing is mysterious to me. I don’t feel like I have got it nailed yet.'
Paul Kelly has been described as the poet laureate of Australian music. During a career spanning 30 years Kelly has written more than 40 songs. His lyrics reflect the everyday aspects of life, and often include references to the vastness of the Australian landscape and Australian culture. He is sometimes described as a chronicler of the times, seen as not only a musician but as a songwriter whose work falls into the tradition of Australian poetry.
Kelly’s musical career began on the streets of Hobart and moved to the pub scene in Melbourne where he quickly gathered a following for his raw lyrics and individual style. He formed the band Paul Kelly and the Dots which published two albums, Talk and Manila, before parting ways in 1982. Kelly moved to Sydney and put up the money for studio time to record the likes of 'White Train', 'Adelaide' and 'Little Decisions'. The album was a success and Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls went on to record the hit double album, Gossip, with guitarist Steve Connolly, bass player John Schofield, and keyboarder Peter Bull. This was followed by Under the Sun and a name change to Paul Kelly and the Messengers.
Much of Paul Kelly’s work also reflects his social conscience, as it comments on important social and historical events and their significance to Australian identity and life. Several of his songs highlight the plight of Australia’s Indigenous people including 'Maralinga (Rainy Land)', a song about atomic testing by the British in Australia’s outback and its effects on the Indigenous people of that area. On the album Comedy, written in 1991, Kelly co-wrote one track with Aboriginal songwriter, Kev Carmody. The song, 'From Little Things Big Things Grow', focused on the start of the Indigenous land rights movement in the Northern Territory by describing the Gurindji people’s struggle for their land. Kelly also co-wrote 'When I First Met Your Ma' and 'Rally round the Drum' with Aboriginal songwriter Archie Roach.
Paul Kelly and the Messengers disbanded in 1991 and Kelly collaborated with Aboriginal band Yothu Yindi before establishing a solo career. He’s joined many artists around the world and has toured Australia, Europe, the USA and Canada to the delight of audiences. Perhaps his greatest fear is becoming type-cast as a songwriter; this may explain his frequent changes in direction and collaborations with so many successful performers.
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