It’s December 2, and behind the second door of the Essential Advent Calendar is South London vocalist, Kelli-Leigh, who steps out from being a backing vocalist to taking her position in the spotlight, with the release of her debut Christmas EP, ‘Unwrap My Heart’. The four track EP was released on November 25 and is the perfect addition to our Advent Calendar.
You’ll have heard Kelli-Leigh’s voice before, even if you don’t know her name. Duke Dumont & Jax Jones’ 2014 hit, ‘I Got U’ was nominated for a Grammy award and went on to become one of the biggest songs of that year – Kelli-Leigh was an uncredited vocalist, so unfortunately, she was not included in the glory. Likewise, her voice was also featured on the club anthems, ‘More Than Friends’, with James Hype, and ‘I Wanna Feel’, with Second City.
Kelli-Leigh decided she had had enough of being out of the spotlight, so she set up her own company, Music Core in 2015 which would go on to become its own fully independent label. Last year she made a TikTok video, which went viral, where she showed just how many recognisable dance tracks she has been the vocalist on, but people had no idea she was involved. Kelli-Leigh said this was her “being taken advantage of”, and at the time, she hadn’t understood the wider impact financially, and that “greater equality and opportunity for women like [me]” would help these issues to begin to change.
All this is hopefully in the past though. With a career that includes more than 500 million streams on Spotify, two UK number 1s and three UK Top 10 hits, Kelli-Leigh is ready to break out and be known as a solo artist in her own right, not just a voice you may have heard.
“I set up my own label to give myself the opportunities that I wanted,” said Kelli-Leigh. “It’s the platform that I needed. I’m involved in every aspect of putting out my songs from the writing, to mixing and mastering the record, to the artwork to the marketing. I have complete creative control.
“I’m now able to release the music that I want, and that aligns with my own views, and support other artists in doing so too. The industry has its own preconceived ideas around WOC and I want to play my part in changing that.”
Watch the music video for ‘Unwrap My Heart’ below.