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 an award-winning broadcaster, inspirational speaker, healthy living advocate and author - Kelly Ann Monahan 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 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 was a show opener for Vince Gill and Shania Twain at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, and also performed at high-profile venues such as Philadelphia's Tin Angel. She wrote and sang the ballad "Sleep My Child” during that time, promoted two years in a row on radio to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. From there, VH1 took notice of her soulful and identifiable voice; Kelly was named "Suggested Artist" in the VH1 Song of the Year contest.
While performing all over Nashville for well over a decade - from the famed Bluebird Cafe to a regular spot at the Nashville International Airport - Monahan also became a mainstay as an air personality on Nashville radio. That included carving her own unique path on the legendary home of the Grand Ole Opry, 650 WSM, where she served as creator and host of a new radio show featuring hit songwriters.
For over 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 her inspirational music to benefit its Trauma Survivor's Network. Kelly's late father, Joseph, was operated on by trauma surgeons at Vanderbilt at the onset of his illness. Later on, the hospital asked if she would sing and write a song for their annual Trauma Survivor's Network Memorial - and for all those who also lost their loved ones through traumatic injury. Vanderbilt then chose Kelly's song, "Your Spirit Lives On" - which she wrote in memory of her dad - as the musical landscape for its hospital video about the Trauma Survivor's Network.
Kelly incorporates her inspirational music at speaking engagements. Here, along with music, she shares: her faith journey, overcoming invisible disability, her long health journey and the impact that food has on the body, perseverance in the midst of adversity and loss, embracing who God created you to be, and the gift of hope.
The health and medical correspondent for World Christian Broadcasting for over 14 years now, Kelly also has extensive knowledge of health and wellness as a certified, integrative nutrition health coach. Monahan wrote a clean-eating recipe book, SWEET HEALTHY LIVING, and even shares her "Sweetie Pie" healthy recipes on television from time to time - a nod to her late father, Joseph, who affectionately referred to her as his Sweetie Pie, and who accompanied Kelly to all of her many medical appointments since she was a little girl.
Monahan'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. She formed the first-known EDS support group in the state of Tennessee in coordination with Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville.
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.