INTERVIEW: Claire Kelly


Many people talk about chasing a dream, but few actually dive in head first to do so. Singer/songwriter Claire Kelly, however, took the plunge after generating a local buzz for herself while attending Marquette University. Kelly, who used to frequently play gigs around Milwaukee, moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music, but is returning to the city she once called home for a show this Saturday night, supporting Brett Newski at his album release show at Shank Hall. We caught up with Claire to talk about the move, new music, and more :

B&E: How has the move to Nashville been so far?

CK: The move to Nashville has been great! I needed a physical move to make the mental decision to pursue music full-time. And this is such a great place to do that. Everyone is involved somehow. Your Uber driver, the guy next to you at the bar, the gal bagging your groceries – everyone’s in music and I love it.

B&E: Who have you gotten to work with since you’ve moved down there?

CK: I’ve gotten to write with a lot of talented folks since I’ve arrived. For the first three months I was going out to open mics and writers rounds every night of the week to see who was out there and then introduce myself to the people I wanted to work with. There are legends around of every corner in this city.

B&E: Obviously Nashville is vastly different from Milwaukee from a music standpoint, but what would you say is the biggest difference that you’ve noticed?

CK: Because it’s such a music city, Nashville is filled with a lot of transplants. In that way, it’s been very welcoming. I love Nashville for the creative community but I love Milwaukee for its character. People are so proud to be from Milwaukee and I adore that. It’s where I spent so many formative years – Milwaukee will always have a special place in my heart.

B&E: You’re playing Shank Hall on May 13th with Brett Newski. Are Milwaukee shows different for you now that you’ve moved?

CK: Yes! I’m playing Shank Hall with Brett Newski, I can’t wait. He’s doing such great things. I’m psyched to be on the bill. I used to live 2 doors down from Shank on Farwell Avenue, so I’ve seen a lot of music there. I’m releasing a single from my EP in music video form the day of this show, too. If anything, Milwaukee performances like this are more fun for me now. I get to catch up with friends in town, eat Gypsy Taco and drink New Glarus.

B&E: What are your plans for the summer? Any music coming out?

CK: Big plans for this summer! I’m going out on the road for the first time, DIY style. House shows, backyard shows, wineries & summer festivals- it should be fun! I’ll be back in Mke for a good handful of dates around Summerfest. I’m releasing a brand new EP on June 15, which will be my first collection of music to come out of Nashville! It’s currently available for pre-order on

B&E: Finally, if you’re stuck on a deserted island with Brett Newski, what three items would you want with you?

CK: If I was stuck on a desert island with Brett Newski I would bring…a case of PBR, my ukulele and that donut innertube he posts in some of his pictures. We’d make it a party.



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