Martin & Kelly: A duo that bridges the gap between traditional and modern country music

Martin & Kelly (Photo by Rob Wile Photogrpahy. Submitted photo by Martin & Kelly.)
Martin & Kelly (Photo by Rob Wile Photogrpahy. Submitted photo by Martin & Kelly.)

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

Martin & Kelly are a country duo from New England consisting of Jilly Martin and Ryan Brooks Kelly. With a combination of modern country and traditional twang, these musicians have stunned the country music industry. This duo has reached new heights by combining their talents. They both had success as solo acts, but have received an even better reaction as a duo.

Along with their obvious talent, Martin & Kelly also have youthful energy and pretty smiles. They released their debut self-titled EP. this April and grabbed the attention of many country fans.

In a phone interview with Limelight Magazine, Martin explained how Martin & Kelly formed.

“We started playing together when Ryan was doing an EP and he needed a female part to sing a debut that he had written,” she said. “When we were in the studio, we decided that we really liked how our voices blended together. So, I started going out to a couple shows with him and we got a pretty good response when we were playing together. We figured we might as well try that and it kind of just highlights both of our strong points when we’re on stage together.”

Martin explained why she feels they work so well together as a duo.

“Our harmonies blend really well together, so both of our voices and Ryan’s guitar playing is great,” she said. “I think he’s the best around; he’s definitely the best that I’ve played with.”

Kelly talked about the joys of working together on their first EP as a duo.

“A collaborative effort is always fun,” he said. “Both of us come from a little bit different backgrounds where I typically play stuff that’s geared towards guitar players or singer/songwriter. I really like very traditional country singers. So, I think it was nice to finally work with someone where I was enjoying everything. You know, you can bounce ideas off one another.”

Both Martin and Kelly are inspired by modern and traditional country music and cited Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert as major influences on them. This becomes evident in their music which bridges the gap between new and traditional country music.

“I think we both really like traditional country,” said Kelly. “I think that’s why it worked out so well when we started playing together. We both had very similar musical backgrounds.”

On September 1st, Martin & Kelly opened up for Lorrie Morgan at Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury, Mass. Jilly shred her memories of that night.

“That was a great show. We love playing at the Blue Ocean. It’s fun to be able to play our original music and that crowd was really awesome for Lorrie,” she said.

Both Martin and Kelly have gained a tremendous amount of success through their years of opening up for big name country musicians. Kelly talked how grateful he is to have met these musicians, and to be part of such a wonderful genre.

“Country’s a good genre to be in, because there isn’t really that many fake artists,” he said.

Kelly talked about one show in particular that stuck out to them. This summer, they opened up for The Band Perry and played a great show because both band’s music created such a great contrast when played back-to-back.

“It worked out well because their stuff is not necessarily along the lines of traditional country,” he said. “We played some of the traditional stuff and then they played their stuff. So it really worked out well.”

For more information about Martin & Kelly, visit their website, martinkellymusic.com.

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