In 2009, Lisa Kelly was selected to sing the title song for Disney’s movie “Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure.” The song was titled “If You Believe.” The title itself sums up a lot of what Kelly’s mission is at her singing school, the Lisa Kelly Voice Academy.
“It was absolutely amazing. It was very quick, and I really didn’t have time to process it at all. I didn’t have long to absorb it and go ‘Wow!’” Kelly says. Considering the breadth of her career, it’s not surprising. Yet this internationally acclaimed singer is quite down to earth dividing her time between Ponte Vedra Beach and her home in Peachtree City, Georgia, where she opened the flagship Lisa Kelly Voice Academy.
It all started years ago living in Ireland, when Kelly took a hiatus from her work in the computer industry and began performing in theatre. “I was doing a show in Dublin and the musical director of Riverdance asked if I was interested in auditioning.” Kelly landed the role and had the choice to perform with the Broadway Riverdance show or go on tour. “I always wanted to see America, I could see New York at any time, so I decided I would do the tour. I was there for five years, met my husband, and ended up having our eldest son Cian, and he toured with us.”
After five years on the road, Kelly became pregnant with her son Jack, and decided to leave Riverdance, and move on to her role in Celtic Women. “As I was leaving, the musical director for Riverdance asked if I would do a show in September. I was due with Jack in August but I was like, ‘No problem.’ I had Jack, and five days later I recorded a CD, then went and filmed the special. The album went to number one the following year.”
Kelly toured with Celtic Women for the next several years, some tours up to forty weeks straight, with three kids on the road. “When I was pregnant with my fourth I said ‘Okay, I’m done.’ I felt I couldn’t give one hundred percent to either job. It was difficult to be a really good mom on the road.” Like so many working mothers, Kelly was compelled to make a decision. “I was really close to the girls [Celtic Women performers]. It was the last show, and I was really devastated to leave them,” she says, “but I came home and walked into my house and I had my kids, it was Christmastime and I was like, ‘This is really where I need to be, where I want to be,’ and it was a huge sense of relief.”
Her children grew up and began to show an interest in singing. They inspired her to become a teacher. “I always wanted to be a teacher. My dad’s a teacher and loves his job,” she says. She opened Lisa Kelly Voice in Peachtree City, Ga. in 2013, and it was on vacation in Ponte Vedra Beach that she decided to open a school here on the First Coast.
“We’ve had 900 students come through our doors in the last three years. We have summer camps and master classes which bring people from all over. It’s been incredible. I have had students from six to seventy-eight years old,” she says.
Confidence is a big part of Kelly’s message. “I don’t do one-on-one. I don’t want them being great for me, then dying when they are in a group of their peers. It’s important to learn from the people beside you. It also allows other students to see the confidence build in their peers. They don’t have to be perfect, just heartfelt. That’s what my school is about, building confidence that will be with them all their lives.”
For more information visit: thelisakellyvoiceacademy.com
Above photos: Summer camp in Ponte Vedra at the Lisa Kelly Voice Academy.
Above photos: Lisa Kelly, professional singer and dancer and founder of Lisa Kelly Voice Academy.