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Jan 4, 2019

I sit down with Kelly Richey from the Kelly Richey Band and The Spear Shakers.


Kelly Richey is one of the hardest-working independent musicians in the music business today. When it comes to touring, this Cincinnati-based blues rocker can truly claim the title “Queen of the Road Warriors.” The veteran guitar-slinger has covered the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia in her 30-year career. Fronting her blues/rock power trio, Kelly has played over 4,000 shows, logged a mind-boggling 1 million road miles (and counting) and released 16 albums on her private label, Sweet Lucy Records, earning her reputation as a master guitarist and singer/songwriter. This ain’t no polite, watered-down sound. It’s hardcore blues-rock on steroids, a blistering, in-your-face tour de force.

Born in Lexington, Kentucky but living in Cincinnati since 2000, Kelly Richey started playing guitar at the age of 15. The late Lonnie Mack was so impressed with her hyper-muscular playing and singing that he described her as “Stevie Ray Vaughan trapped in a woman’s body.” Listed among the “top 100 gifted guitarists” by the influential Truefire Community, Kelly frequently draws comparisons to guitar icons from Stevie Ray to Jimi Hendrix. Throughout her career, Richey has shared the stage with legends like Lonnie Mack and Albert King and has opened for Boston, Heart, Joe Cocker, Lita Ford, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Walter Trout, Little Feat, Foghat, REO Speedwagon, George Thorogood, Average White Band, Robben Ford, Warren Zevon, and James Brown. She also performs as a solo artist, delivering electric blues that incorporates guitar looping and beat creation – or, for a more intimate evening of music and storytelling, stripped-down and earthy blues on her acoustic guitar.

In addition to her reputation as a touring musician and recording artist, Kelly Richey has over 30 years of teaching experience. She is a dedicated guitar instructor who is passionate about inspiring students to learn. Early on, while practicing 12 to 16 hours per day, Kelly began teaching in her hometown, giving one-on-one guitar lessons to students of all ages. As she began to tour, Richey took her teaching with her on the road, giving instruction workshops at schools, universities, and local communities and developing her own guitar instruction manual. With advances in modern technology, she has continued to expand, giving one-on-one lessons via Skype and launching her own online guitar classroom with over 150 instructional videos built on the rock-solid method she has perfected over three decades.

In 2014, Kelly Richey joined the TrueFire family, one of the oldest and most respected online guitar instruction platforms. Based on her teaching experience and an encyclopedic knowledge of blues guitar techniques and styles, produced two videos instruction series, “Blues Grit” and “Focus On: Blues Rock Power Trio.” Kelly also hosts her own virtual classroom on their site, which allows students to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule.  The TrueFire platform offers a customized lesson, private video messaging, a social learning environment, and access to the entire TrueFire library with over 25,000 guitar instruction videos..

A warm, outgoing and dynamic guitar instructor with a unique and carefully crafted teaching style all her own, Kelly Richey is committed to building a connection with all her students no matter what their skill level or background may be. Kelly delivers expert instruction tailored to meet the needs of her individual students so that they can achieve their full potential.

Kelly Richey first became an “Artist on Tour” for the Cincinnati Arts Association in 2003. By 2006, Kelly had noticed a steep decline in the already limited resources allotted for music and arts education in many local public schools and communities she visited. As a student who had struggled in school because of dyslexia, Richey knew first-hand about the power of music and the positive impact it had had on her ability to learn and excel. In response, she founded Music for Change, a nonprofit organization focused on keeping music education alive in underfunded schools and communities. Through Music for Change, Kelly delivers school programs, blues history presentations, guitar instruction and songwriting workshops. She also volunteers her services to reach out to U.S. armed services veterans, holding free guitar workshops and giving vets access to all her online guitar-instruction resources.  In 2017, Kelly established Writing for Change as part of her nonprofit organization committed to helping students and communities find their own unique voice.

After years of experience working one-on-one with students, presenting workshops and delivering assembly programs, Kelly decided to begin training to become a life coach in 2008. A firm believer in the importance of self-improvement, she continued to expand her education and eventually gained certifications as a Certified Dream Coach, Dream Coach Group Leader, True Purpose Coach, and True Purpose Coach Group Leader. Kelly also helped to design the curriculum for the True Purpose Group Coach certification, for the True Purpose Institute, founded by Tim Kelley.  In 2010, Kelly became trained in Voice Dialog.

During this phase of intense personal growth and development, Richey realized that if she was truly going to help others, she would first need to help herself. In 2009, Richey surprised her friends, family and the music community by taking 18 months off the road, working with her own life coach, and committing herself to a life of total sobriety. When Kelly returned to her career as a touring musician, she did so at a pace that would allow her to not only complete her own certifications, but also launch her own personalized coaching practice, Powered by Intention.  For almost a decade, Kelly has enjoyed working one-on-one with clients in person and via video Skype.

An avid writer since childhood, despite her lifelong struggles with dyslexia, Kelly Richey has developed her own methods to overcome this debilitating problem and has kept extensive handwritten journals since her teens. In 2012, Kelly released a poetry collection, Whisperings: A Collection of Poems from Blues Guitarist Kelly Richey. Richey’s poems deal with finding one’s truest self, relationship struggles, survival, the ups and downs of life, vulnerability, found and lost love, heartache, longing spirituality, passion, and hope.  The book is a special collection of 89 writings (including a companion spoken-word CD), highlighting Richey’s highly personal poems selected from thousands of journaled writings spanning three decades.

As her confidence as a poet and writer soared, Kelly Richey also began to develop her songwriting voice on a deeper level, as reflected in her 2013 CD release, “Sweet Spirit,” and her 2015 release “Shakedown Soul.” While writing the material for “Shakedown Soul,” Kelly became a certified writing facilitator and affiliate for the Cincinnati nonprofit group Women Writing for (a) Change. Inspired by that experience, Richey established Writing for Change and developed a series of creative writing programs, A Piece of Paper Always Listens, which she presents in workshops, writing circles, school programs and her private coaching sessions.

Since 2010, Kelly Richey has steadfastly maintained her commitment to a well-balanced lifestyle. Today Kelly tailors her schedule to meet her deepest passions, music arts, creative arts, and the healing arts. By writing, recording and working with the best players the Midwest has to offer, this lifelong guitar-slinger revels in delivering her signature rock-solid wall of sound, whether she’s fronting her power trio or performing as a solo artist.

By teaching guitar students, leading writing programs, providing private life coaching through Powered by Intention, and leading the nonprofits Music for Change and Writing for Change, Kelly Richey has realized her dream of helping to build community through music and the healing arts. As a public speaker, Kelly also shares a more vulnerable side of herself by telling her own story, reading from her work, and performing original blues/rock tunes on acoustic guitar. It’s one more way of building connections between herself and her audience.

Just as you’d expect from the “Queen of the Road Warriors,” Kelly Richey never stands still very long. And so the song continues – in August 2016, Kelly began a three-year training program at Wellstreams in Columbus, Ohio, to become a Spiritual Director. To find out more about Kelly’s multifaceted life and passions, please visit the following websites or email

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