WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT KELLY:
"I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the release of Kelly's new album. The girl opens her mouth and it's an insta-celebration! It's like someone put Janis Joplin, Etta James & Tina Turner into a blender & came up with a stunning Kelly Kocktail! Give me more because I'm parched!"
--Paul Antonelli, Grammy Winning Music Supervisor & Associate Director, NBC's Days of Our Lives
"THAT VOICE! I swear this woman is channeling Janis Joplin! I'm blown away EVERY TIME I see Kelly live...and can't wait til the next time!"
--Lisa Foxx, Radio Host
"With her wildly energetic and ultimately sexy voice, Kelly Moneymaker bring life to all her music! She captivates an audience while moving the listener through new worlds of beautiful story-telling and melody."
--Dan Silver, Producer Silver Sessions; Sr. Creative Director RipTide Music
"Moneymaker is one bizarre, strangely seductive singer-songwriter with a voice and an album that demands to be listened to."
--Music Scene Magazine
Review By Andrew Greenhaulgh, Liverpool Post UK
Singers are a dime a dozen these days, particularly with the rise of reality shows like American Idol, The Voice, and The X-Factor. And while there are plenty of great voices out there, singers who’ve done their time in vocal lessons, singing through scales and fine tuning their pitch, it’s the rare artist that comes along who was truly born to sing. Theirs is the voice that captivates from the first note to the last and, whether they’re singing from the Great American Songbook or the Los Angeles Metro Yellow Pages, listeners are drawn in, enraptured and unable to turn away.
Fairbanks, Alaska native Kelly Moneymaker is one of those rare individuals.
Chances are, you’ve probably heard Moneymaker’s voice but just didn’t realize it as she’s been in the music business as a professional since the age of thirteen. She was a founding member of platinum selling pop trio, Expose, and has worked in multiple genres, seeing her work showcased in a variety of places like “Days of Our Lives” and “Grey’s Anatomy” as well as on the big screen in “American Pie,” among others. And along the way, she’s shared the stage with some illustrious talent, performing alongside artists as diverse as Keith Urban, Meatloaf, Stevie Wonder, and Ringo Starr, just to name a few.
Now, Moneymaker is joining up with a few musical friends, dubbed In the Black, for her latest record, Race Against the Sky. And as far as “session bands” go, it’s a pretty remarkable lineup. Featuring Gabriel Moses (Macy Gray) and Bruce Watson (Foreigner) on guitar, Michael Mennell (Kenny Loggins) on bass, Kim Bullard (Elton John) on keyboards and B3 organ, Herman Matthews (Tower of Power) on drums and Lenny Castro (Rolling Stones) on percussion, the band’s lineup is like a “who’s who” of music. And each and every player does their part to highlight the record’s highest point in Moneymaker.
And Moneymaker truly is the star here, as she should be. Her voice is smoky and whiskey soaked, rich and resonant. She sings with a powerful energy that recalls fellow vocal greats like Janis Joplin and Tina Turner, as she swaggers through thirteen solid tracks of blues-rock goodness, shining all the way.
“Swampy Things” get things off to a powerful stop, Louisiana-flavored imagery accented by moody, dark blues notes that undergird the artist’s rich tones and sensual delivery. “Eyes” lightens the mood a bit, a touch of dreamy guitar accented by plucky percussion notes while the title track is a slow builder that showcases the best of the whole ensemble, In the Black holding sway with rocking guitars and a swelling sonic vibe while Moneymaker just wails, her guttural screams bringing serious emotion and passion on the highlight track of the album.
Another great track is “Best Kind of Friend,” hot southern rock blues elements colored in by Moneymaker’s playful innuendo, her voice continuing to shine as songs like “Hello Beauty” and “Fall in Love” highlight the artist’s softer side, the ballads providing a quieter respite before Michael Mennell’s funky bass chops bring the feet to dancing and the boots to knocking again on “Drivin’ in the Rain.”
“No, No, No” begs for a Mick Jagger cameo with it’s rich swagger and chorus of background voices while “Bang a Drum” makes it’s case for song of the record with its building progression, the arrangement anthemic and epic as Moneymaker sings her way skyward through a powerful chant supported by killer guitar work and booming drums. Hearkening back to a sense of funk, “L.O.V.E.” closes things out on a high note, smooth harmony vocals merging over B3 swells and chunky bass.
Kelly Moneymaker may be the best artist you’ve never heard and that’s not an overstatement. Gifted with a voice that is simply stunning and surrounded by a recording band that’s as strong as any out there, Moneymaker makes full use of each and every element on Race Against the Sky, crafting one of the tightest blues rock records heard in a long, long time. Don’t walk, but run to your nearest record store and grab this record now. You won’t be sorry…
Kelly Moneymaker and In the Black
Race Against the Sky
Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Review by Heath Andrews, ReviewYou.com
After being a part of the popular ‘90s pop trio, Expose’ during its heyday, Kelly Moneymaker has carved her own path by writing songs for television, appearing alongside legendary artists on stage such as Todd Rundgren, Meatloaf, Stevie Wonder and Ringo Starr, and pursuing her own career as a solo artist. Moneymaker’s latest album, Race Against The Sky is a far cry from her days in Expose’. Moneymaker has put together a slamming, rocking blues/rock album that has some of the most soulful singing this side of Aretha Franklin.
Indeed, Moneymaker’s singing is one of the strongest parts about the album. From the first note to the last, she belts out everything with forceful authority. Without exaggeration, Moneymaker is an incredibly powerful vocalist; her full-throated gusto is just as effective in her impassioned cries for love as it is in her moments of emotionally vulnerability. Naturally, it helps that In The Black is an equally talented and powerful band, comprised of Gabriel Moses and Bruce Watson on guitar, Herman Matthews on drums, Lenny Castro playing percussion, keyboardist Kim Bullard, and bassist Michael Mennell. Moneymaker’s deep, resonant tone packs a wallop, and everyone else has to play accordingly.
The blues elements at work can be heard more clearly on the opening track, “Swampy Things.” Moneymaker sings a portrait of a southern bayou at its down and dirtiest; voodoo, hoodoo, catfish, and swampy things in general, set the mood. While Moneymaker is setting this up, her guitarists grind and slide away through notes that are as raw and bluesy as they get. Of course, Matthews stomps his way through the track, but this time in a more restrained fashion. He doesn’t overplay anything here as he just keeps that steady blues beat that all the instrumentation revolves around.
There’s a softer side to Moneymaker as well; she takes the time to belt out some slower songs, “Hello Beauty” and “Fall In Love” amongst them. While neither of them are necessarily less forceful than the rest of the album they do have a more relaxed and emotional sound. The latter of the two tracks almost takes on a mournful tone from the guitars, though this is accented by the soft keyboards in the backing track. “Hello Beauty” on the other hand is a more uplifting number that features a distinct, chiming guitar sound, not used elsewhere on the album. Not only do they represent a good change of pace for the record as a whole, but they’re yet another example of the versatility of Moneymaker.
The album closes with the strongest song, “Bang A Drum.” Fittingly enough, it does start with the snap of a drum, but the more identifying feature is the exotic nature of Moneymaker’s singing. The song itself draws off of a kind of Native American vibe, placing emphasis on passing down knowledge, love, and stories. The arrangement doesn’t start out all that differently from most of the other tracks, but as the song progresses it builds up remarkably and culminates in a veritable symphony of guitars, drums, and singing.
Race Against The Sky is a major accomplishment for Kelly Moneymaker. As opposed to her work for television scores and soundtracks, this is a cohesive collection of powerful blues-rock that has her in incredible voice, backed by an incredible band. This is far removed from the days of Expose’ and represents a stunning achievement in musical growth and ability. Race Against The Sky is an album that can easily be heralded as much as it can be enjoyed.
Artist: Kelly Moneymaker
Album: Race Against The Sky
Review by: Heath Andrews
Rating 5 Stars (out of 5)
Review by Luis Alexander, Martinis & Bikini’s
LIVE CONCERT REVIEW: Kelly MoneymakerCD Release Party at The Mint Los Angeles
October 1, 2013
I attended an Expose’ show 20 years removed from tonight that was a highlight for me as a 21 year old straight out of college. I reviewed that show as an intern for a rather large music newspaper, I gave that show back then a pretty good review – but this time – fast-forward 20 years and it’s not Expose’ but one of its former leading ladies gone solo – Kelly Moneymaker – all I can say is WOW, say it backwards – WOW!!
I was not expecting this amount of POW from the petite singer/songwriter. If you are thinking sappy love songs or an electro pop sound reminiscent of the trio, you are most certainly mistaken. Erase that delusion. This was pure unapologetic soul, R&B, blues, and some southern rock’n roll...and Moneymaker proudly hails from Alaska!
The song list set she performed is from her newly released CD, Race Against the Sky. She opened with “Swampy Things” and sounded like Bonnie Raitt right out of the bayous to the self-titled “Race Against the Sky” ballad – which by the way brought the crowd to their feet with applause at the end of the song. She then belted the toe-tapping, butt-slapping (pun intended) “Black Magic In Blue Jeans” a song about her husband’s behind, which frankly got us all wanting to SEE that behind!
She closed with Koko Taylor’s “Wang Dang Doodle” in her own Moneymaker version that I only wish was included on this new CD.
Holy crap, can she bring it!
The show was a graduate-level workshop on powerful rock & roll vocals. Her unique raspy wailing came full force in most all of her tunes. I swear she was channeling Joplin on several occasions. She may sound like a Janis Joplin or a Bonnie Raitt but Moneymaker has her own definitive sound, mark my word - including her own distinctive growl that had me saying “Yes, Yes, Yes!” on her “No, No, No” performance. I look forward to the day when I review another artist and report “she has a voice like Kelly Moneymaker!”
Throughout the show she demonstrated an absolute command of the stage. Even when she wasn’t singing, you had to remind yourself to pay attention to her as-talented tour band, The Black.
She revisits Los Angeles on November 1 at the House of Blues Foundation Room – 11pm. Race Against The Sky can be purchased on iTunes or her website at
Rating 4.75 out of 5 Stars
Review By Dan MacIntosh, POPMATTERS.COM
If you take a moment to read Kelly Moneymaker’s bio, the first question you’re likely to ask yourself is, ‘How could this girl possibly be from Fairbanks, Alaska, of all places?’ That’s because her album opens with a song called “Swampy Things,” and then proceeds to present a number of other swampy little numbers.
Although Moneymaker’s biggest claim to fame may be the brief period she spent as a member of the all-girl vocal group Exposé, she’s also had a fairly eventful career both before that and after it, as well. She initially worked with those crazy guys, The Tubes, but then went on to collaborate with artists ranging from Beatle Ringo Starr, to lounge acts such as Wayne Newton and Connie Stevens, to un-categorize-ables like Meatloaf.
All of that is history, of course, which brings us to Race against the Sky, a wonderfully soulful album. As a performer, Moneymaker just doesn’t seem to know the term half-hearted because she goes at these various soul and rock songs like her very life depends upon her performances. The way she sings “Hello Beauty” is a lot like the great Tina Turner might have done it – like a full force gale.
Moneymaker also has a way with the turn of a phrase. The title to “Black Magic in Blue Jeans,” for instance, just rolls off the tongue perfectly. The track, speaking of Tina Turner, also has a gospel-y power complete with black gospel choir-like backing vocals. The track’s passion is also heightened by its Stones-y electric guitar solo.
She follows the rollicking good time of “Black Magic in Blue Jeans” with a gentle ballad, “Fall in Love.” On it, she sounds like someone that’s been burned one too many times. “I don’t wanna fall in love all by myself anymore,” she warns a lover she is obviously falling in love with.
Along with the Tina Turner comparisons, the music on this album will also likely appeal to Bonnie Raitt fans, as all these Race Against The Sky songs feature old school rock and soul values. In other words, there are no obligatory rap sections or annoying electronic dance elements. You get the impression Moneymaker went into the studio with the stubborn goal of making a record the way they used to do it. The result is an organic and satisfying collection of music.
Just the way Moneymaker does such a cool call-and-response thing during “Best Kind of Friend” will make you feel super good inside, if you’ll let it get under your skin. Once again, Moneymaker combines churchy vocals, with gutsy guitar, all filled out with warm backing vocals.
In other places, Moneymaker gets really funky – you know, she shakes her moneymaker, so to speak. With “Get Your Love On,” she pours out a cry for love and social justice, the same way Staples Singers used to do it, all the while putting these timeless words to a groove-centric electric guitar riff.
In a world where Miley Cyrus’s tongue gets more attention than almost anything of true musical value, Moneymaker’s Race against the Sky is such a breath of fresh air. This is music made from the best ingredients on Earth (sorry Snapple), and when you create a meal out of top shelf elements, it’s nearly impossible to go wrong. This is not trendy music. It’s likely not music for the hash generation that only wants the newest of the new. Instead, it’s the kind of music you still see performed during PBS TV fundraising nights; the kind of soul music that stands the test of time.
It’s not fair to merely label Kelly Moneymaker as a former member of Exposé because she is so much more than that. It’s safe to say Moneymaker is writing and recording the best music of her life. We can only hope and pray these songs reach an appreciative audience – they’re just too good to waste.
Artist: Kelly Moneymaker
Album: Race against the Sky
Review By: Dan MacIntosh
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)