Kelly Richey & Powered by Intention
Finding My Way Back Home


It was a bitterly cold night - hell, it was North Dakota in February! - but Kelly was determined to get to the gig on time. That’s who she was – reliable, trustworthy, focused, determined, well-rehearsed and never late. Tonight, though, she was really tired. She had been pulling out all the stops to promote her CD, but forces beyond her control (like a crashing economy) were closing doors that had been open to her for years. So, putting this tour together had been particularly challenging. But this is what she did, so she was plowing through it. As she prepped to do a live phone interview on a radio station she was paying to promote her concert, the thought struck her – “I’m paying good money I don’t have, to be on a radio station I wouldn’t listen to, for a show I don’t even want to play!” There, she admitted it. “How is it that what I love so deeply is robbing me of my life, my home and my relationships? How did my life’s dream become my worst nightmare?”


Kelly grew up in Lexington, Kentucky and was raised in a non-traditional southern Baptist church. Her uncle was the preacher and a larger-than-life character, a force for change in the community and beyond. Rev. Bob Brown had long hair, smoked cigarettes, and believed the church had to be relevant if it was going to serve the community. Under his leadership, it was the first church to integrate. Shamefully, it was burned to the ground in 1969. Kelly’s front row view of the civil rights movement placed her elbow to elbow with her neighbors in worship and in service to others. Early on she was introduced to both black and white gospel music traditions, influencing her musical taste and her view of the world: 

“I was 18 and had gotten myself into a lot of trouble. I went to Sunday church, and my uncle, instead of walking straight to the pulpit, turned and walked straight to me sitting in the pew. He told me he needed to see me after the service. It seemed like forever waiting for him in his office. He sat down, lit a cigarette and said, ‘Kelly Joe, God has a purpose for your life, and you need to figure it out.’” The very next day, her Uncle Bob died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Devastated, Kelly grappled with finding some connection between religion and a life she felt calling her.

Kelly’s mom taught school and her dad was a manager at Sears. Adopted as an infant and an only child, she grew up feeling loved and protected in an environment where education was highly valued. Her grandmother had also been a teacher and her uncle served on the Kentucky Board of Education. However, Kelly struggled in school. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, Kelly suffered from ADHD and dyslexia, making school extremely difficult for her. Silently traumatized, she hid her problems and figured out how to succeed by listening, memorization and outsmarting the teachers. Music was the constant through most of her growing up, from youth choir to piano lessons to playing a borrowed set of drums. Music not only made sense to this bright, energetic girl whose learning diabilities were undiagnosed, but as Kelly entered her teens, music helped her make sense of an ever-confusing world.

Fourth grade was a challenging year. Her grandmother died, and the family moved from the house she had grown up in. Kelly’s one clear memory was inspecting their new house and finding a poster in the basement – the ONLY thing left behind by the former owners. It was a fuzzy black light poster with a picture of some guy with big hair and a guitar. The poster said, “See you in the next world, don’t be late.” It was Jimi Hendrix. Several more years passed before a friend played her a cut from a Hendrix album and the world never looked or sounded the same again! On Christmas Eve of 1977, she became the proud owner of a “Sears special” guitar. By April, she’d played and subsequently wore out three of those guitars. Impressed with her dedication, her parents bought her a Telecaster copy, which held her over until she purchased a 1965 Fender Stratocaster. This guitar became a fifth appendage. She took it everywhere – on errands, walks, even to bed, and of course to school. Playing helped her to fit in and created a connection to people she’d never experienced before. It was her church, and she was the preacher.

After graduating from high school, Kelly threw everything she had into her music. Her late grandmother’s words to live by, “If you have a talent, you better use it,” became her lodestar. Building her career as a performing artist, she pursued every opportunity wherever it took her - Atlanta (1982), Youngstown (1982), New York (1983), Lexington (1983), Nashville (1986), Tahlequah, OK (1990), Lexington (1991), Cincinnati (1997). She played with Arista Recording artists Stealin’ Horses for more than two years.

“One night backstage at a Nashville club, I was just crazy enough to ask guitar legend Albert King if I could play with him. He asked me to play something for him and then said, ‘You go on out there, kick off the show without me, and don’t make me ashamed.’ Every guitar player in Nashville was in the audience that night. I was too stupid to know better and just as excited. That was my PhD in the blues.”

She founded the blues/rock Kelly Richey Band, managed all the booking and national tour arrangements (including Europe), and started her own label, Sweet Lucy Records. When she was off the road, Kelly started providing music education programs in Cincinnati Public Schools. A guitar teacher since high school, she has recently developed an instruction manual and DVD for her private students. In 2005, she established the non-profit organization Music 4 Change to address the cutting of arts programs from K-12 curriculums. “Music taught me how to learn, it shaped my identity. As I matured and began teaching kids, it became clear that music encourages them to do well in all aspects of school.”


In late 2007, Kelly ran the numbers – she’d played nearly 3500 gigs, driven five vehicles into the ground traveling over 800,000 miles, and taught guitar to nearly 1,000 students. 2008 marked the release of her eleventh CD, “Carry the Light” and the stakes were high. She’d hired a publicist and an independent radio promoter and began calling to book dates for the CD’s promotional tour. The festivals and venues she’d played for years were closing or not booking due to the recession. Then she had to fire her drummer due to personality conflicts. Though it was hard to face reality, she knew the work and the stress were contributing to a lifestyle that was not sustainable. She recognized she’d lost her passion for playing, as well as the ability to stay healthy. A line from David Crosby’s “Almost Cut My Hair” had been her mantra throughout her career - “…and I feel that I owe it to someone.” Now those words were empty and meaningless. “I remember feeling very little hope for change of any kind in my life. I was trapped inside a hard exterior shell with no light.”


During the 2008 holiday break, Kelly watched a DVD titled “You Can Heal Your Life”, a story about the life of Louise Hay. Against what felt like an unnatural next step, she committed to doing daily affirmations and within a few days experienced what she describes as a “shift". Kelly recalls, “My shell began to soften slightly and my heart felt a sense of possibility.”

In the summer of 2008, she began researching coaching programs and came across Marcia Wieder’s Dream University®. The next workshop was to take place in January in San Francisco, where she could stay with a dear friend. As the trip approached and the economy continued its downward slide, she was finding it hard to justify the expense. She bought the plane ticket anyway and decided to consider it a vacation without expectations. She arrived for the first session dressed in her customary black t-shirt and jeans. The rest of the room was outfitted in business suits. Strike one. The exercise that morning was around integrity. “Aha,” Kelly thought, “as an artist I’ve always considered myself a person with a great deal of integrity.” But as Wieder delved deeper into the true meaning of the word, it became clear to Kelly she was not functioning with integrity with herself. “I was more committed to my ‘to do’ list than I was to me.”

By the time the workshop was over, Kelly’s view of her life and its purpose were changed - reclaiming her dream seemed possible. She decided to recreate herself “from the inside out.” Two months later, back in San Francisco for the Dream Coach Group Leader training, she was introduced to the work of Tim Kelley on the importance of “purpose.”

“I could honestly say I had lived my dream to its fullest extent, never compromising my vision. However, somewhere along the way, I’d outgrown the teenage version of becoming a ‘rock star.’ I desperately wanted to transition into a life that would best represent who and what I felt called to be. My bio read ‘Stevie Ray Vaughan trapped in a woman’s body with Janis Joplin screaming to get out’…this time, I wanted out! I had nearly ruined my health, physically and emotionally, trying. I began to realize I’d mistaken my talent for my purpose.

In January 2010, Kelly decided to step away from the road and quit her band. “I needed to sit down, shut up and listen…to the voice inside of me.” She determinedly took the daily steps and did the work.

It has been a year and “shift” has happened! Kelly launched her coaching business, “Powered By Intention”, and is working with clients as a Dream Coach, True Purpose Coach and a health and wellness coach. She’s also taking a new approach to her music as a solo artist, describing her style as “ambient blues” – playing acoustic and electric guitar, singing, and telling stories.

“Finally, my life's making sense. I’ve fallen in love with music all over again, and my coaching is a natural extension of my mission - to empower and facilitate a community of change makers. By inspiring others to connect with that inner voice inside and guiding them to the realization of their own dreams – I'm beginning to understand the sage advice of my late uncle.”

Kelly’s back on the road again! Where will it take her?