Once upon a time...
Once upon a time, when Kelly was a little girl, she dreamed of being a singer. When she was in the first grade, in fact, she had a few free minutes one day when sitting at her school desk. And so, she wrote up an imaginary record contract for herself. And then she signed it. (Talk about a one-woman show right there.)
Today - in addition to being a WSM radio personality, inspirational speaker, writer and author - Kelly Ann Monahan also is a soulful singer/songwriter and therapeutic musician who shares her inspirational music. She not only has an instantly identifiable voice, though; she has a pretty unique story to share as well.
Monahan was diagnosed correctly with a connective tissue disease in recent years, but that was only after having undergone almost 20 years of inaccurate physical therapy protocol and a lifetime of medical treatment, unnecessary procedures and going in circles. In the process, Kelly acquired a great deal of perseverance on her faith journey. And, from there, many songs of faith and hope were born.
Monahan was born and raised in suburban Pennsylvania - just outside of Philadelphia. One of Kelly's first musical inspirations was seeing a Broadway performance of the musical Annie. She announced in the theater to her parents during the show, "I can do that!" Shortly thereafter, at the age of eight, she began to play the piano. Vocal lessons came next, followed by theatrical training.
Kelly grew up with a wide range of musical influences; she'd listen to her mother singing along to everyone from The Temptations to Elvis to Patsy Cline on the radio. She was a Music Major in high school, and performed at church weddings, in theater, and in the Pennsylvania All-State Chorus. She had written songs since she was 11, but it was her mother's sudden death when Kelly was 17 that really fostered her writing.
During her college radio days and while interning at Philly's country station WXTU, Kelly opened for Vince Gill and Shania Twain at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, as well as performed at high-profile venues such as Philadelphia's Tin Angel. She also wrote and sang the ballad "Sleep My Child” during that time, which was promoted two years in a row on radio to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. From there, her soulful and identifiable voice and style got her noticed by VH1; Kelly was named "Suggested Artist" in the VH1 Song of the Year contest.
Having performed all over Nashville over the years - from the famed Bluebird Cafe to a regular spot at the Nashville International Airport - she has played many a venue! It is singing soulful and inspirational music and songs of hope where Monahan shines the most.
For 10 years now, Kelly has been a therapeutic musician with the Nashville chapter of Musicians On Call - which brings the healing power of music to the bedsides of patients. Since the Nashville chapter's launch, she has performed regularly for patients in the cardiac unit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center as well as at Alive Hospice. Vanderbilt also has used one of her songs of healing as the musical landscape for its Trauma department video, with Monahan also serving as the featured singer at Vanderbilt's annual Trauma Survivor's Network memorial.
Kelly also incorporates her inspirational music at speaking engagements. Here, she shares her faith and personal story of her long health journey in overcoming adversity. With training in the integrative health field as well, Monahan even shares her "Sweetie Pie" healthy recipes on television from time to time; it comes on the heels of the release of her clean-eating recipe book, SWEET HEALTHY LIVING.
In addition to other media coverage, Kelly's book and story were featured as a Sunday cover story in The Tennessean, which also shared her successful advocacy for those suffering from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: the painful connective tissue disease from which she suffers. Monahan formed the first-known EDS support group in the state of Tennessee at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, and garnered representation of the disease on the hospital's website.
Remember the sparkle in that Irish name and smile. And, if you ever get to hear Kelly sing, her touching voice will surely shine its own light as well.