Valley News -

By Jeff Pack

Two homegrown artists bring home three Grammys


Last updated 2/15/2019 at 2:27am

The Recording Academy photo

Canyon Lake native Tori Kelly takes home two Grammys – Best Gospel Performance/Song by a Band and Best Gospel Album – Sunday night. She's shown here during her acceptance speech.

Canyon Lake's Tori Kelly and Murrieta's Joelle James each took home Grammys from the 61st Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Kelly won Grammys for Best Gospel Album, "Hiding Place," and Best Gospel Performance/Song by a Band for "Never Alone," a song that she co-wrote with legendary gospel artist, Kirk Franklin, who also performed on the track.

"I've dreamed about this since I was a kid, this is kind of insane," Kelly said to the audience in her acceptance speech for "Never Alone." "I have to thank Kirk Franklin for doing this project with me.

"I want to thank my entire family; I love you guys so much and my amazing husband. And I have to thank Jesus; thank you so much for everything. This is insane; I'm gonna go freak out now," Kelly said.

James was interviewed backstage by the Grammys along with song co-writer Larrance Dopson about the hit song, "Boo'd Up," after they were awarded as songwriters for Best R&B Song. The song was also nominated for Song of the Year, but was beaten out by Childish Gambino's (Donald Glover), "This is America."

"It's a song I wrote about four years ago," James said in the interview. "And Rance came in, put the music to the lyric melody, killed it, made it a current smash, cultural smash. And Ella killed it, and we're just really grateful that we had this platform for everyone to hear this song."

James was asked who she would like to thank for the success of the song.

"God, my family, my team, obviously Rance, Mustard, Ella," James said.

Born in Wildomar, Kelly grew up in Canyon Lake and, like James, was a staple in the local music scene, performing all over the area in showcases and competitions.

She appeared on "American Idol," "Star Search," "America's Most Talented Kids" and at only 12 years old, she was signed to a record deal with Geffen Records that was short lived.

But her persistence has paid off, releasing "Unbreakable Smile" in 2015, and the Grammy-winning "Hiding Place" in 2018.

The single, "Never Alone," was released in late August and became an instant hit.

Late last month, Kelly announced her upcoming The Acoustic Sessions tour that started this month to coincide with the release of her newest single, "Change Your Mind," from her upcoming third album.

The Recording Academy photo

Murrieta native Joelle James wins a Grammy Sunday night as a songwriter on the Best R&B Song winner, "Boo'd Up." She's seen here in a backstage interview with co-songwriter Larrance Dopson after winning the Grammy.

Fans can catch the tour March 2 at House of Blues Anaheim and March 5 at Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego.

For more information on Kelly, visit

James, a singer and songwriter with RocNation who now lives in Los Angeles, grew up performing all over the area in local showcases and performed on shows such as "Star Search," "American Idol" and "America's Most Talented Kids."

After graduating from Murrieta Valley, she attended Berklee College of Music and graduated with a degree in music studies and voice.

"Boo'd Up," which James wrote and performed four years ago, was reimagined by producer DJ Mustard, Los Angeles producer and songwriter Larrance Dopson and performed by Ella Mai.

The song spent 16 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay Chart.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]


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