Kelly Anthony’s career path was set by the world around her: bands chasing around city streets from gig to gig in the Bronx, life careening from job to job with no plan other than to try and survive. Between her first bout of depression, and a second relapse that nearly landed her in jail, it felt like there was nothing left to give. But when she discovered a drumset in her apartment building, it helped bring her one step closer to purpose. Her story—one many Indigenous women of New York can relate to—is featured in the video above.
That’s not to say that drumming wasn’t at the heart of it for Kelly Anthony. She was digging into the latest studio session for the next project and her musical mentors, the musicians Joe Vincent and Marques Toliver, peppered her with questions about her life and music. She found that to be a therapeutic distraction, as it tends to be for people like Kelly, who’ve been in a maze of mental health challenges for years.
When she was younger, Kelly felt like she didn’t fit in anywhere. She learned to dance and found a niche in hip-hop through that. “I remember watching Stormy Daniels and thinking, ‘Wow, I don’t even know who she is, but I want to be her when I grow up,’” she says, “and I thought of New York City and that was it.”
The drum set, complete with drumsticks and cymbals, provided a secluded, reassuring place for Kelly to learn to write. She started to stretch out her fingers to the rhythm of the drums. Her mood lifted and when she started to drum on the drums, she was able to tap into something in her head that she didn’t think was available anymore. And once she found a groove that worked, she knew what to do next.
As Kelly enters the spotlight, her music stays centered in a small, yet sweet, book. “It’s the tiny little island within me where I call home,” she says.”My life, my faith, and my family is in that book.”