A Girl Called She's Kelly Donnelly Is The Nottingham Born Musician Taking On Censorship & The Patriarchy
She couldn’t find music that reflected the way she felt, so she made her own. Nottingham born, LA based artist and activist Kelly Donnelly released her first solo single on Oct 30 titled "I AM SHE." What she didn’t expect was the media storm that followed. Picked up by fellow girl boss Fearne Cotton on her Radio 2 show and shared by celebrities like Dawn O’Porter, Chris O’Dowd, Aisling Bea, Angela Scanlon, and various women’s organisations around the world the music video blew up. But who is Kelly Donnelly and what is the message behind I AM SHE? Let's just say, she will leave you feeling super inspired.
There is no denying it, Donnelly exudes empowerment and her positivity is infectious. You only have to speak to her for five minutes to know that she is so fired up to speak to women around the globe and create a movement that promotes sisterhood. Speaking about the song to Bustle she says, “I think the main message, and it sounds pretty simple but I really just wanted to inspire everyday women and everyday mothers. We are the true warriors. And I think that there’s a real sense in the air at the moment of women sticking together and I know within my friends we feel this real connection, of all being in a sisterhood.”
Within the context of Times Up and Me Too, Donnelly believes it is the perfect time to release her song and start a movement that shows women lifting each other up. She says:
“I think the illusion of girls being super competitive or that we are bitchy against each other is disappearing. The problem was we thought there was only one place at the table and we thought we all had to fight for that. Now we realise there isn’t just one place at the table and there should be more. We should allow everybody to come up and celebrate each other.”
Born in Nottingham, Donnelly moved to LA in her twenties when she was singed to Interscope records with the girl band the Paradiso Girls, which at the time were touted as the European answer to the Pussycat Dolls. Living with her husband and son, she told Bustle the solo single was born out of frustration that she was no longer connecting to the music that she loves. "When I wrote the song I had literally just given birth to my little boy and I think when I was pregnant I started to look at the world slightly differently," she explains. "I thought ‘oh wow I am bringing a life into this world’ so you start reading more and figuring out what is going on."
"I love pop music, I always have and when I was looking for music that I related to I personally couldn’t find any songs that I thought ‘yes this is talking about things I really want to talk about’ or ‘this really inspires me’ so that is why I wanted to write music. Because I couldn’t find what I was personally looking for.”
Feminist at its core, "I AM SHE" is an anthem written for women who feel silenced or ignored. Donnelly told Bustle she feels it is important that women know this song and movement is dedicated to them. She says, “we are 50 percent of the population in the world and so I think it is important that we have a voice. Women’s issues are highly important because they are just basic human rights. I feel as well that it is time that the patriarchy was enlightened, that we deserve to have a voice. We are warriors.”
And Donnelly has her sights on reaching women around the globe. When releasing the music video for "I AM SHE" she partnered with censorship circumvention software tool, Lantern. This means that as it was released, "I AM SHE" became the first unblockable music video in the world, and women living in censored regions like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China, and Iran would be able to access the video. She explained to Bustle why this was important for her:
“Whilst there is no censorship there, Indian women really are battling serious suppression. The Me Too movement in India has completely blown up and it is inspiring seeing those women sticking together and almost saying enough is enough. I really wanted for women in all of those regions to feel like we are all part of this sisterhood. There is strength in numbers and I wanted them to feel like they were being seen, they were being heard, we are all in this together.”
It is hard not to feel that through her passion and her music Donnelly is contributing to a larger global sisterhood movement. And that's incredibly inspiring. Whilst she has enjoyed success with her first solo track this certainly isn’t the end for her. She told Bustle, “I am hoping that this will show that there is a market out there for music with a message. I am older, I am 37 so there is a market out there for people being older. I celebrate my age. I celebrate being a mother. I celebrate being the size that I am. In my music videos I want women of all ages, all colours, all shapes and sizes. I don’t want retouching. I think women just want to see real women because that’s what we relate to.” With fiery passion and immense talent, Donnelly is definitely one to watch.