Tori Kelly was born Victoria Loren Kelly in Wildomar, California on December 14, 1992 to musician parents. Her father sang and played bass while her mother was proficient on keyboards and saxophone. She grew up listening to gospel and was influenced by pop and R&B acts such as Jeff Buckley, Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott.
She has been dreaming to be a professional musician since she was very young. At 10, she appeared on "Star Search", a TV talent competition, before competing on "America's Most Talented Kids" at age 12. Her appearance on the latter talent show led to a deal with Geffen Records. She, however, left the label before she could release any material.
After failing to make it to the top 24 in the season 9 of "American Idol", Kelly started working on original songs and recording them on her personal computer. She posted videos of her performances on YouTube and began to earn herself fans.
Later in 2012, she released via her own label Toraay Records her first EP called "Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly". The project consisted of six songs Kelly wrote, produced, engineered and recorded herself in her bedroom. When it was released on iTunes, it made it to the Top 10 Pop Albums. It also sold well enough to hit No. 9 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and No. 6 on SoundScan's New Artist tally.
After putting out the EP, Kelly released a single titled "Fill a Heart" in early 2013 and promoted her music by embarking on a tour across the U.S. Later in the year, her new manager Scooter Braun introduced her to the heads of Capitol Records. She was "very skeptical" about signing with a major record label, she said, because she's afraid things would not work out in her favor as had happened earlier in her career. "I'd been burned before. But when I met those guys, I had never felt that way: They were fans and really got me," she explained. Long story short, she joined Capitol Records in September 2013.
Her first project under the label was her second EP, "Foreword", which was released in October 2013 and debuted at No. 16 on Billboard 200. She spent most of 2014 working with Braun on her debut full-length. In early 2015, she released the LP's lead single, "Nobody Love". She co-wrote the song with Rickard Goransson and Max Martin.
Her debut album, "Unbreakable Smile", eventually arrived on June 23, 2015. It debuted at No. 2 on Billboard 200 with 75,000 units including 65,000 copies of traditional album.