Pop Rocks: Kelley family's gospel music has staying power

The Kelley family of performers includes Victoria (from left), Bethany, Daniel, Timothy and Brittany Kelley.

There’s something special about a family band. While not always harmonious – just ask the brothers Wilson, Davies or Gallagher – there is always something magical to be found in their harmonies.


There’s a sense of unspoken communication, of musical chemistry that can’t otherwise be duplicated or imitated.

Now I don’t know if the Kelley family, a classic Americana gospel act based in Appling, Ga., keeps it classy in rehearsals – although I suspect it does – what I do know is there’s something in the water out by the Kelley place that makes this quintet of sibs particularly adept at picking up, and picking, a beautiful bluegrass ballad.

Each member also seems to have an uncanny ability to bend string instruments to their will. I know at least three play fiddle, there are multiple mandolin players and I’m assuming all of them can, at very least, crank through a three-chord progression on the acoustic guitar.

I’ve become familiar with the Kelley family and its music through judging the Georgia-Carolina State Fair talent competition the past couple of years.

Members of the family are always significant competitors and, although I’ve never seen the full combo perform, it’s given me a real appetite for seeing these kids – the oldest is in her early 20s – have some significant success. While the act has been getting out there, playing church gigs, the occasional festival and showcases in its native Appling, this isn’t a band that has made a lot of fans outside a somewhat select audience.

Now, given the age of the members and the importance faith plays in not only the music but also the family dynamic, I am not suggesting an 11 p.m. set at a downtown bar. Still, I believe there are places this act could, and should, be seen.

Banjo-B-Que. Twelve Bands of Christmas. An opening slot at one of the Southern Soul and Song concerts. They all seem natural. But those events require a wait and, quite frankly, I’m eager to see the Kelley family make some local inroads.

I think the right place for this act to play, and as soon as possible, is the still relatively new M.A.D. Studios. It’s not a bar. It’s not a place where people drink. It’s a listening room. It’s a place where people go because they enjoy hearing music, preferably played live. It’s also a place owned by and run for musicians – musicians who will understand exactly where this family is coming from, musically speaking.

I have, historically speaking, found championing bands a distressing and disappointing enterprise. They do, after all, break up. But I feel comfortable standing behind the Kelley family, because although bands come and go, families are forever.

Find out more about the Kelley family online at their Web site kelleymusicstudio.com.