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Check Out Astra Kelly’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Astra Kelly.

Astra, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I knew at age five that I wanted to be a singer. At 12, I had a vision of being on stage. The sun was setting, and I could feel that the music was connecting every single person in that space. As I grew into my artistry, music became the force that allowed me to express and process challenging emotions and support and illuminate the life journey. At times, it was the one thing that made sense. It was my lifeline, a faithful friend, and as I moved more confidently into the space of songwriting, I became aware of the true power of the art form. It can teach, heal, and bring people together. It can inspire feeling and thinking. It can uplift and provide comfort in that we are not alone. It can reflect the stories of those who listen and speak for those who need a voice. It is the soundtrack of our existence.

I’ve remained fiercely (though sometimes reluctantly) independent, releasing nine records on my own label, touring the country extensively, and building a career that could support itself. I battled with the “starving artist’ mentality and the concept of “making it.” I struggled to make peace with an industry that seemed more often cold and unaccepting than opportunistic and inviting. The little wins were enough to keep going, and those that listen and connect have always inspired and ignited my dedication to the craft.

2014 marked a dramatic shift in perspective and focus. Life had pulled the rug out from under me, and I unexpectedly found myself financially and emotionally destitute. I was hearing the old, “get a real job” judgment and was purely devastated by the idea. Within one of the most important moments of my life, I was in utter despair; I was ready to give up completely. I could see this world without me, and I knew I had the guts to leave.

That day, laying on the floor of my apartment, sobbing uncontrollably, I heard a voice whisper in my ear. She said, “Astra, it’s not your time. It’s not your time. It’s not your time.” and more forcefully, “stand up, grab your guitar…NOW!!!” I listened. I began writing the song “Lullaby Lady” that afternoon. Music saved my life that day, and I often share this story when I am speaking about the true power of songwriting. This was the catalyst that led me to where I am now.

Songwriting became more about storytelling and melody. It inspired community as I began collaborating with other songwriters more and more. I dropped the oars and let the river of life take me. The songs were more clearly speaking to me, and I was the instrument. Music was now wholeheartedly about service rather than ego, and I vowed that even I never “made it,” (whatever that is) I would not stop. Now, I perform over 200 shows a year. I’ve found my zen place and nearly every single show is like plugging in. I feel blessed to be able to use my talents to sustain a career. I find profound fulfillment in my work as a vocal and songwriting coach and being able to help others find their voice. Through my work for Jail Guitar Doors as a songwriting facilitator for a rehabilitative workshop with inmates at Donovan State Prison, I have witnessed the songwriting process act as a catalyst for profound human transformation and healing. Inspired by this, I am developing a transformative songwriting workshop series for non-musicians and musicians alike that will give others the experience of tapping into the creative source that lives within each of us to explore universally-relatable themes that facilitate personal expression and growth through music (soulsong.life.)

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am a songwriter, singer, guitar player, and music creator. I am also a Reiki Master/Teacher and spiritual practitioner. This has always complimented and enhanced the creative process and the way I show up in the world. I do it for love of music, art, and healing. I intentionally dive below the surface to find and reveal layers of experiences. I infuse metaphysical and psychological metaphors into lyrics to mirror the genuine human experience and all the beautiful grit that goes with it. I seek to reflect the inner world and inspire hope and acceptance. I fight for emotional and mental freedom through music.

Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?
The great Nina Simone said, “An artist’s job is to reflect the times.” The rise of the musicians middle class has given us all greater access to artists who are walking the walk. Many artists may never have the kind of recognition they deserve, but more and more we can hear amazing talents in our local pubs and restaurants. These types of venues are investing in music and raising the value of artists on a community level. Despite what is going on in our social and political atmosphere, I remain focused on the unseen in my music. I have always had a sense that it is more within the inner world that truth exists.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I am frequently performing all over southern California and beyond. My astrakelly.com website is the portal for all things. As with all artists, support means showing up to enjoy the work, cheerleading at shows, sharing it with others, listening on digital music platforms, purchasing merchandise, joining fundraising campaigns and letting us know you’re listening!

~ Sunday, July 7th at The Heritage Ranch in Encinitas for The Ladybrain Fest. 100% female fronted acts, 20 artists on two stages!www.ladybrainpresents.com
~ Learn about and support Jail Guitar Doors: www.jailguitardoors.org

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Image Credit:
Cathryn Beeks, Shannon Woods, Daniel P. Graham, Alpha Omega, John Hancock

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition, please let us know here.

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