Kelly Willis At Grand Ole Opry
Kelly Willis story of fame dates back to childhood. She began singing as a comfort after her parent’s divorce. At age 16, thinking she might actually be good, she entered a pay recording booth while on a trip to the beach to record her version of Elvis Presley’s “Teddy Bear.” Demo in hand, she used it to impress her then boyfriend and future first husband, Mas Palermo, who was a drummer in a rockabilly band. She impressed him enough that he invited her to sing in his high school band and subsequently changed the name of the band to Kelly Willis & the Fireballs.
The members, who were all 16, continued to play until high school graduation when they relocated from Oklahoma to Austin, Texas, to brave the vibrant music scene in the city. The band and her marriage to Palermo didn’t last but Willis managed to attract the attention of singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith who introduced her to MCA producer Tony Brown. She signed a contract with the MCA label in 1989 and released her debut album, Well Travelled Love, in 1990.
Willis went on to release 9 studio albums and 13 singles. Her most popular songs include, “Baby Take a Piece of My Heart,” ‘Heaven’s Just a Sin Away,” and “Teddy Boys.”
Willis is currently married to fellow singer/songwriter Bruce Robison. The couple has four children together. She took a hiatus from music for several years to raise a family but is set to release a new album in 2013 with her husband, The Cheater’s Game, under the band name “The Bruce & Kelly Show.”