Kelly Cherelle Price was born in Queens, New York. She began singing in church as a toddler. Her first professional engagement was with George Michael at Madison Square Garden in January 1992. As destiny would have it Price was overheard singing by Mariah Carey who after arriving to her own rehearsal late for the Grammys walked into a room where Price was singing in the rehearsal hall while everyone else was on a meal break. Carey subsequently introduced Price to Sony Columbia’s then CEO Tommy Mottola. She made a name for herself as a backing and guest vocalist, appearing on a number of hit singles such as Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy”, The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money Mo Problems”, and Whitney Houston’s “Heartbreak Hotel”. She has also sung background vocals for Faith Evans, Aretha Franklin, Brian McKnight, SWV and R. Kelly.
Prior to becoming a recording artist Price’s career as a writer flourished. She collaborated and performed with and for well-known artists such as Brian McKnight, Faith Evans, The Notorious BIG, Jay-Z, Puff Daddy, Mase, Faith Evans, Mic Geronimo, Da Brat, Jermaine Dupree, SWV, Aretha Franklin, LL Cool J, Wynona Judd, Mariah Carey, Ronald Isley, The Isley Brothers, Angela Winbush, Karen Clark Sheard, Yolanda Adams, Whitney Houston, Dallas Austin, MC Lyte, The Lox, ScarFace, Will Downing, Mary J. Blige, Gerald Levert, JOE, Angelique Kidjo, Coco Lee, KeKe Wyatt, Tamia, R. Kelly and Elton John.
Price issued her debut album, Soul of a Woman, in 1998 on Island Records, which contained the hit single “Friend of Mine”. A remix of the song, also included on the album, features R. Kelly and Ronald Isley. In the remix, Isley takes on the fictional role of the singer-protagonist’s Godfather (“Mr. Biggs”), taking her husband (R. Kelly) to task for cheating on her with her best friend. The “Friend of Mine” LP version and the remix both charted as #1 hits on the U.S. R&B chart and made history by doing so with no music video to support the song.
She issued her second album, Mirror Mirror, in 2000 on the Def Soul imprint of Def Jam Records; Island and Def Jam had merged in 1999, with Price and labelmates Dru Hill being reassigned to Def Soul. Mirror Mirror featured the singles “You Should’ve Told Me” and the Grammy Award nominated “As We Lay”, a cover of Shirley Murdock’s 1986 hit. A remix of “Love Sets You Free” was issued a single in 2000, produced by Teddy Riley and starring a number of fellow R&B performers, including Babyface, Tamar Braxton, Aaron Hall, Blackstreet, and Def Soul labelmates Dru Hill, Case, Montell Jordan, LovHer and Kandice Love.
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