Cletus Kennelly & Lori Kelley

Cletus Kennelly & Lori Kelley


Cletus is a six-time Wammy-winner for Best New Artist, Songwriter of the Year, Best Contemporary Folk Vocalist, and Best Contemporary Folk Group. He brings passionate vocals, percussive playing style, and powerful 12-string guitar to his songs, garnering 30 songwriting awards & 18 Wammy nominations.


DC-based Cletus Kennelly is a six-time WAMMIE Award winner (Washington Area Music Awards) for BEST NEW ARTIST, SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR, BEST CONTEMPORARY FOLK MALE VOCALIST (three times), and BEST CONTEMPORARY FOLK GROUP (with Lori Kelley). His eclectic music incorporates contemporary urban folk with elements of melodic pop and modern rock. He accompanies his clear, passionate vocals with both the power and the delicacy of his 12-string guitar. His songs create vivid character portraits as they explore the gamut of human emotions, while using phonetic phrasing and word-play to accompany his rhythmic and percussive style of guitar playing.

Cletus' songs are highly crafted, alert and contemplative. He has been nominated for 18 Wammie Awards and has earned 30 songwriting awards, including a 1st Place Award in the 2005 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, 2nd Place Awards in the 1997, 1999 and 2001 Mid-Atlantic Song Contests, 3rd Place Awards in the 1998, 2000, and 2002 Mid-Atlantic Song Contests, and a 4th Place Award in the 1995 Louisville Area Songwriter Competition. The range of categories in which he has received awards (Folk, Pop, Modern/Alternative, Adult Contemporary, and Rock) displays the stylistic breadth of his music. He is also honored to have been selected to perform at Washington DC's Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.

After success as a songwriter, Cletus began working with guitar legend Pete Kennedy, releasing a self- titled seven-song recording. He then followed up with his debut CD Thread, which along with Pete Kennedy was produced by Washington Area Producer of the Year Marco Delmar. Five songs from the CD, nearly half of the recording, have received awards in the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest. The CD itself garnered three Wammie nominations, including BEST DEBUT RECORDING and BEST CONTEMPORARY FOLK RECORDING. After the 9-11 tragedy, Cletus wrote the song Looking Up, which was nominated for a Wammy Award for SONG OF THE YEAR, and was released on a two-song 9/11 Fund benefit CD.

Ray Ruskin of the Kensington Coffee House Concert Series, remarks, "What makes Cletus great is Cletus. He has a way of connecting to the audience directly, and the rich quality of his voice is so effective, he doesn't need a band behind him. That he has such a good one [on the CD] is a bonus." Chris Slattery of the Gazette Newspapers writes, "Cletus Kennelly has a way with words. [He] takes only the finest words--the most honest and expressive. He painstakingly crafts them into finely wrought phrases, and coaxes them into verse. "[He] is able to pan for nuggets of lyrical gold." Cliff Johns of the Old Town Crier describes Cletus as "a owerful artist", and the CD as "genre-crossing music of great power" and "a strong, emotionally engaging record!" Thread "will wake up the listener; it is truly worthy of your attention." Says Eric Brace of the Washington Post, "Cletus Kennelly wields a mean 12-string acoustic and writes a moving tuneā€¦the earnest and true kind."

After earning a degree in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame, Cletus joined a volunteer service program in Arizona where he worked with "at risk" youths and their families, and also worked at a homeless shelter. During this time, he also focused on guitar playing and songwriting, and performed at coffeehouses, clubs, shelters, and benefit concerts. After having worked as a mental health counselor, high school Ethics/Social Justice teacher, and as a carpenter (all by the time he was 27), Cletus returned to his hometown of Washington, DC and has further dedicated himself to songwriting and performing.

Award-winning singer-songwriters as solo artists, Cletus Kennelly & Lori Kelley combined their artistries into a duo, developing a style and a sense for each other's voices that is magical. "I haven't heard harmonies this tight since Simon & Garfunkel" (Gene Dawson, Dawson Concerts). Their work has earned them 30 WAMMIE nominations (Washington Area Music Awards) and eight WAMMIE Awards between them, including the WAMMIE Award for BEST CONTEMPORARY FOLK DUO/GROUP. Richard Harrington of The Washington Post writes, "What's better than a good singer-songwriter? Two singer-songwriters whose meshed voices seem built for close harmony." Both approach their writing from a lyrical, melodic place with songs that speak to the heart. The wit and depth each adds to the other's songs makes for an engaging show. "Cletus and Lori are two standout performers whose voices blend beautifully." (Scott Moore, Moore House Concerts) Both Cletus & Lori were honored to be selected to perform at Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center as solo artists in years past, and again as a duo.

Their much-anticipated duo CD, LOTUS, was released in October 2005. Mike Joyce of The Washington Post writes, "In addition to sharing close harmonies on their new CD, Lotu


THREAD (12 songs)
LOTUS (12 songs)

Set List

Predominantly originals.