- 14 Nov 19
Boasting a hypnotic, crystalline voice and tireless energy, Kehli may well turn out to be Irish pop's next breakthrough star.
Eighteen-year-old Dublin native Kehli first attracted attention a few years back, when footage of her singing Jorja Smith's 'Let Me Down' proved a viral Instagram hit.
"We were just testing the waters," says the singer, but she was soon performing at Whelans and the Ruby Sessions in Dublin, and also venturing over to Shortage in London. Her latest tune, the upbeat 'Believe It', arrived in September and quickly hit the top five of the UK club charts, as well as attaining Song Of The Week status on 2FM and receiving airplay from BBC Radio 1.
"I'm trying to bring a soulful sound into the modern pop charts," says Kehli of her modus operandi. A childhood fascination with Broadway and the West End led the aspiring performer to enroll in stage school, which allowed her to hone her powerful voice. "At that point, I thought I'd only be doing musical theatre," she notes. "I couldn't see myself doing anything else."
With her current listening including the likes of Beyonce and Ariana Grande, Kehli has encountered skepticism as to whether Irish artists can enjoy that level of international success. Nonetheless, in the face of the doubters, she remains resolute in her ambition. "For people to say you'll never get out of that Irish bubble - basically suggesting you should give up on it - is disheartening. But you've got to persevere."
As well as the obvious examples of U2 and Sinead O'Connor, Kehli also cites the more recent success of artists like Kojaque and Jay Pryor as a big reason to keep the faith. In a time where so much culture is disposable, she also makes sure to remain constantly visible, and prioritises Instagram.
"It's an important platform now," she nods. "It's kind of like your CV - this is you." Behind the talented and ambitious performer, meanwhile, is a bubbly teenager full of contagious optimism.
"People ask where I'll be in five years," she laughs. "I don't even know what I'll have for dinner! My goal at the moment is to keep people interested. We're currently trying to tie the strings together and finish off my debut EP, and hopefully the album will be released early next year."
'Believe It' is available now on Spotify.