20 Things You Didn’t Know About Irene Kelley

Mountain Fever Recording Artist, Irene Kelley is known for her appealing mix of bluegrass, country and Americana. The Latrobe, PA native began writing songs as a teenager and soon made her way to Nashville. Her songs were quickly noticed and recorded by Carl Jackson, Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White. While touring and recording three albums of her own, Irene raised two daughters and scored cuts with Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood, Loretta Lynn, Pat Green, Brother Phelps, Rhonda Vincent, Claire Lynch, Darrell Scott, The Whites, the Osborne Brothers and others. In addition to her songwriting skills, Irene’s pure and lonesome vocal prowess has made her one of traditional music’s most beloved storytellers.

20 things you didn’t know about … Irene Kelley

  1. I once worked at a mushroom farm and had to wear a miners light to pick mushrooms at 5:00 am because that’s when mushrooms are their ripest.
  2. My favorite color is purple.
  3. I am kinda famous for my berry pie making skills.
  4. I spent the summer of 1981 performing in the bluegrass band, Redwing, as lead singer and rhythm player and we performed and were also the sound company for Ralph Stanley’s McClure, VA, Bill Monroe’s NC Tarheel and Bean Blossom festivals.
  5. My first song recorded was by Carl Jackson on CBS records called, You Are A Rock (And I’m A Rolling Stone), in 1984 and went to #64 on Billboard.
  6. At 19, I was a waitress at the Sheraton Inn in my home town of Latrobe, PA. Tiny Tim was performing there and got me up on stage to sing with him…in my work uniform.
  7. My first car was a hatchback 1976 Ford Pinto because my bass fiddle that I played in an all girl bluegrass band, Sweetgrass, fit inside perfectly.
  8. I got kicked out of a rock band in 1979 because I brought a Dolly Parton record to practice and asked the band to learn most of her songs.
  9. My song, Pennsylvania Is My Home, was nominated for the state song of Pennsylvania in 1980.
  10. My new son-in-law (married to my youngest daughter Sara Jean ) Ryan Tullock is the great nephew of Jake Tullock from Flatt & Scruggs band.
  11. I own 2 autoharps and broke most of my finger nails and bruised my arm badly from changing strings on one of them.
  12. I’m a pretty good shot with my Ruger .22 mach 1 pistol.
  13. Coconut makes me shiver….ew!
  14. On my 2nd trip To Nashville in 1983 (from PA), I went to the CMA awards show and wore a square dance dress because I thought that’s what the proper attire was. I sewed it myself.
  15. Before my wisdom teeth came in, I could whistle like a tea kettle through my front teeth.
  16. My mom did not give me a middle name so I picked Rebecca for my confirmation name in 6th grade.
  17. I sang O, Come Emanuel on my hometown of Latrobe radio station when I was 8 and won a Christmas tree.
  18. My hair is brown and so are my roots.
  19. At 11, my brother and I made wine out of choke cherries. Yep, it tasted like it sounds.
  20. I saved those plastic lids from Pringles cans when I was 9 because I thought they’d become collector’s items (until my mom found them when I was 16 and threw them out).

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About the Author

Claire Ratliff

Claire Ratliff is the President and Senior Publicist with Laughing Penguin Publicity. Her company provides publicity and marketing/promotional services including media relations, graphic design, photography, and copy writing. They work with a variety of bluegrass and country artists in Nashville.