Oklahoma City native, Shelly Phelps is alternately categorized as a sultry rhythm and blues chanteuse, a torchy jazz singer, a thoughtful singer-songwriter, or the quintessential rocker chick. However, all agree Phelps' ever-present smoky and soulful voice croons, moans, belts, and wails its way through every song.
Shelly Phelps was raised on the traditional country and southern gospel played in her parent's rural Oklahoma home. The music of her older siblings also played a role in shaping what would become Phelps's trademark soulful vocals and confessional songwriting style. "My parents were playing Hank Williams Sr while my sister was listening to 70’s singer songwriters like Simon and Garfunkle. My brothers had some Beatles and Rolling Stones albums. It all found it's way into my music, but it was Rhythm and Blues, Motown, Soul and Jazz that spoke to my heart and altered my musical course. I fell madly in love with the music of Al Green, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Dusty Springfield, and Aretha Franklin."
Phelps felt a pull to perform and express herself creatively at a very young age. “My grandfather was a musician” said Phelps, “He died when my Mother was a baby so I didn’t know much about him, but I knew he played fiddle and mandolin for town dances. I come from a huge family of musicians and music enthusiasts, so I know it is in my blood.” With music as her birthright, Phelps performed with a live band when she was only 5 years old. “I thought it seemed the most natural thing in the world, to be on stage singing.” reflects Phelps. She continued her musical path by starting her first band at the age of 15 and followed with a string of self-fronted bands such as The Rhythm Junkies and The Shelly Phelps Band.
Today, Phelps’s music is a blend of R&B, Soul, Jazz, and Rock. Reviews of her 2004 release, "Girl on the Wire" praised distinctive, smoky vocals, genuine soulfulness, and gutsy bravado. Her raw sensuality is delivered in “One More For the Road” and “Smoke and Perfume”, where she points out her own contradictions. She dares her lover to stay in “Holding the Door”, and suddenly you are in the seat next to her on a bus in the middle of a snowstorm in “Lonely Ride”. The title track commands us to “step right up, come on in, if you dare to look within” as Phelps allows us to take a peek into her own passions and insecurities.
Shelly Phelps continues to find her audience through gripping and earthy lyrics, powerhouse vocals, and a steady stream of emotionally-connecting performances.