Kelea (aka Kelly Gardner) is a versatile, multigenre, regionally-based WA music artist and singer/ songwriter who performs both acoustic and electronic showcases using vocals, keys, looping, harmonies and electronics. She is also a formidable session rock vocalist and was one of only six West Australians to represent WA at The Voice Australia Season 8 Blind Auditions Top 100 (Sydney 2019).
She has three single releases - Evolution (2017) (self produced), Dear Sir/Madam (2019) (WAM) and Are You Ok? (2020) with a fourth about to launch in the wake of Covid19 ("Take My Hand”). Her EP is due for release in October 2020.
“Dear Sir/Madam” has recently been nominated for WAM's Song of the Year 2020 (Folk Category). A moving ballad about ageism and unemployment accompanied by a poignant music video, it was selected to be on WAM's compilation album "Demos from the Wheatbelt”recorded and launched at Cummins Theatre, Merredin in August 2019. It has been uniquely identified as the only song of its kind in the world on this topic (Susan Flory, “The Big Middle” (US), Jan 2020).
The "Dear Sir/Madam" music video was featured by leading international anti-ageism activist/speaker Ashton Applewhite (US) on her social media. Kelea was interviewed by Next Avenue (PBS), “The Big Middle” (US) and subsequently featured on high profile financial magazine Forbes.com (US).
"Dear Sir/Madam" was featured as a finalist on US compilation album “Songs for Social Change” 2019 (RAWA). It also aired at “Rooftop Movies” in Northbridge as part of WAMFest 2019.
Kelea is a strong, powerful singer with a large vocal range. She has a particular knack for a writing and delivering poignant, looping-based power ballads. Leaving the corporate world behind in 2014, Kelea moved to the Wheatbelt from Melbourne and since then has been performing her originals set with WAM at events including the Wheatbelt Songwriters Showcase, Dowerin Field Days (WA's largest agricultural event), Wheatbelt Touring Circuit series ("Sounds of" and "Demos from” series including support spots for The Jackson Roses, Refractory Road, Russell & Tom and Pete Byfield), the Perth Royal Show and WAMFest 2017. Other performances include Taste of Chittering (2019), Lancelin Buskers Festival (2nd place to Tracey Barnett) and a residency at the Seabird Tavern. She was also a session singer for two years with Perth rock covers outfit “Cargo Beat”, performing everywhere from Mandurah to Kalbarri.
Kelea studied electronic music (Ableton) under Josh Hogan (“Joni in the Moon”) and subsequently self-released her debut, self-produced single “Evolution" in 2017; a powerful anthem expressing hope for an evolved humanity combining house beats with sonic walls of vocal harmony. As a member of Women of Music Production Perth (the only all-female Ableton group worldwide, run by Elize Reitze-Swensen & Rosie Taylor (“Feels”)), Kelea performed her debut live electronic show at the Bird in December 2018.
Her third single release - “Are You Ok?” (Mar 2020), recorded at Rada Studios, is a dedication to firefighters with proceeds going to those featured in the self-released music video.
Kelea has both degrees in Law & Commerce from the University of Western Australia, studied Jazz Vocals at WAAPA, Aural at the Victorian College of the Arts and Songwriting studies at NMIT. She is also a Music Facilitator for Catch Music - an all-ages, all-abilities, all-inclusive music organisation specialising in special needs (ActBelongCommit & LotteryWest) and has adapted to the Covid19 climate by conducting online lessons and a vocal workshops.
Kelea is a member of APRA, PPCA, AMRAP, WOMPP, WAM, the Australian Songwriters Association, I Heart Songwriting Club and the Beaufort Street Songwriters Club. She has enjoyed radio play across Australia including 94.5fm (commercial radio), Triple M Wheatbelt, Voice of the Avon, RRRfm in Melbourne and has performed live on ABC Regional and RTRFM (Perth).
“You probably wouldn’t think the topic of age discrimination by employers would make much of a song. Well, sit back, relax and watch the poignant video of “Dear Sir/Madam” from Australian singer/songwriter Kelea. Get some tissues first. I was tipped off to the song by a Facebook post about it from anti-ageism activist..Ashton Applewhite. Then, I was so moved after watching the video, I needed to learn the backstory. So, I rang up Kelea — her real name - Kelly Gardner - in Perth and heard out.” - Richard Eisenberg (US)
“It’s a beautiful and and heartfelt song for the rejected masses that uses slide guitar motif and minor key changes to channel the feeling of dejection. Held together by Kelea’s crystal clear voice, this should be a successful application for a long career in music” - Andrew Thompson (WA)
— Around the Sound 7 November 2019