In 1987 upon entering Ashland University, Joe majored in Radio and Television, spending the next three years studying and dreaming of a life in Nashville as a music professional. During his junior year, Joe discovered that his aunt and uncle were personal friends of Jim Foglesong, President of Capitol Records in Nashville. They wrote to Jim who agreed to help Joe once he arrived in Music City. A couple of months later, on a trip to Nashville for Spring Break, at a Nashville Cracker Barrel Restaurant Joe and his parents found themselves standing in front of Sam Lovullo, producer of the hit show “Hee Haw” and the actor George Lindsey. During their 30-minute wait, Sam agreed to meet with Joe and the next morning they did, backstage at the Grand Ole Opry complex where Sam promised Joe he’d help him when he made the move to Nashville.
That was all Joe needed; he dropped out of college and told his family he was headed to Nashville. His parents gave him a second-hand Coupe de Ville and $500 and said, “Go make a life!” Once in town, Joe rented an apartment, put on a sport coat, packed a stack of resumes in a briefcase and walked in every building on Music Row. He soon found himself working as a carpenter for the father of a college friend; it might not be the music business but he was in Nashville and had a job.
It wasn’t long before Joe received a phone call from Jim Foglesong who visited with him for over two hours and soon hired him at his new company, DPI Records, an independent label funded by a Texas Oil Barron. The president of the label was Mae Boren Axton, known as the “Queen Mother” in town and the writer of “Heartbreak Hotel” for Elvis Presley. Jim was head of A&R and Joe’s first assignment was to meet George Collier, the new Vice President of Sales and Marketing. For the next two years Joe was Boy Friday for all three and got the education of a lifetime.
When the Texan closed the label in 1992, Joe soon joined CDX, a bi-monthly, compilation service of all the major and independent record company’s new singles delivered to radio. At the helm was Paul Lovelace and the business was very successful. Paul became a major influence, mentor, and friend.
In 1996, Joe partnered with Roy and Glada Kelly and bought a country music nightclub in Ohio, using his Nashville contacts to run national acts through the club for over ten years. Some of the artists to appear in the club were Toby Keith, Joe Nichols, Blake Shelton, David Allan Coe, Confederate Railroad, The Kentucky Headhunters, Daryle Singletary, Lee Roy Parnell, Mark Wills, and many others. Joe Kelly’s music career was soaring.
In 1999, Joe was named Southeast Regional Director of Promotion at Intersound Country and Platinum Entertainment, where he controlled a seven-state area with sixty-two major radio markets promoting such artists as The Bellamy Brothers, Suzy Boggus, The Oak Ridge Boys, Earl Thomas Conley, T. Graham Brown, Roy Clark, Lynn Anderson, Billy Joe Royal, Jo-El Sonnier, Don Williams, Charlie Pride, Ronnie McDowell and many more.
Continuing to climb the ladder of success he joined Blue Diamond Records in 2001, as Vice President. He directed all label divisions, including A& R, marketing, promotion, sales, press and publicity. Joe achieved a top ten single and two top-twenty singles, charted all three releases on all three major reporting trade magazine charts. He planned and executed a 26-state, 50,000-mile radio tour travel plan. And in 2004, he and two partners launched their own, Aspirion Records Group, assuming the role of Vice President of National Promotion, collaborating on all label divisions, A&R, marketing, sales, press and publicity in the promotion of label-signed and distributed artists such as John Corbett, Joe Nichols, Collin Raye, T. Graham Brown, The Roys, Jo-el Sonnier, Don Williams and The Oak Ridge Boys. While at Aspirion, Joe successfully charted single releases on all three major reporting trade magazine charts and garnered over 88,000 spins of Aspirion Releases at the Music Row Panel in 2006.
Since 2007, Joe formed another company, Kelly Talent, an independent entertainment management/booking agency representing national acts such Mel McDaniel, David Ball, Earl Thomas Conley, T. Graham Brown, Eddy Raven, Daryle Singletary, Mike Aiken, The Sheagles and many others, secured bookings in national venues across the country, identified/targeted new locations for engagements and for some handles day to day personal management.
In 2011, Joe’s career came full circle when he rejoined CDX as Director of Marketing and Label Relations. Joe can be reached at (615)-292-0123 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org