2017 started off right for 27-year-old Kelsey Byrne.
Entertainment Weekly magazine premiered her new single, “Phase Me Out,” to its loyal readers. Radio personality Elvis Duran named her his Artist of the Month. And the New York-born singer-songwriter, who goes by the stage name, Vérité, made her national television debut with a performance on NBC’s “Today” show.
Three years ago, if anyone were to ask Vérité her definition of success, she likely would have pointed to the first few months of this year as her measuring stick. Byrne admitted as much in a recent telephone interview.
Now, with fourteen singles and several tours under her belt, the State University of New York at Purchase graduate displays a maturity unexpected from someone not yet 30.
“Success is ever-changing,” Vérité says.
Indeed. Success means never resting on your laurels, and Vérité is not resting.
The grit Vérité showed while working up to 70 hours a week at the Applebee’s restaurant in Times Square remains a significant part of her musical career today. She toured North America this summer, often scheduling three or four straight days’ worth of shows before taking a break.
The multi-city tour came in support of her first full-length studio album, “Somewhere in Between,” released in June.
“Somewhere in Between” received mixed reviews. Pundits praised Vérité’s voice. Paste magazine calls Byrne’s vocal chords “never less than lovely.” But PopMatters.com characterizes the overall album as “a slow avalanche of gloom that occasionally risks romanticizing depression.”
“It’s an interesting thing to navigate,” she says. “Being a female artist, people tend to ask what are you? What are you trying to do? And try to force you into one box.”
Vérité, the French word for truth, expresses how Kelsey Byrne feels about herself and her craft, especially in a business slowly devolving into an industry of cool, where carefully curated images project more fantasy than reality. Byrne says that’s not her.
“I’m not good at putting on façades,” she concedes.
“I think I need to feel good about getting onstage and sharing the songs. I want to stay true to my music.”
Truth for Vérité includes maintaining her independence. She isn’t signed to a major label. Byrne prefers it that way. She doesn’t reject major labels entirely. She just does not want to yield control to big corporations that might make changes to broaden her appeal at the risk of alienating her core fans.
Vérité’s independent streak seems to be working well for her.
Her music and vocals are quickly catching the attention from other artists around the globe.
Vérité lent her voice to an original track titled “Trouble” by R3hab. The Dutch DJ connected with Vérité via Spotify, a music streaming website. The R3hab collaboration with Vérité amassed over 35 million streams on Spotify and more than 1.6 million YouTube views.
Los Angeles producer Brian Kelley –better known as BKAYE– remixed a Vérité single from her 2016 album, “Living.” BKAYE’s remix of “Gesture” became a viral hit, garnering 800,000-plus views on YouTube. Australian indie pop quartet Tigertown also just released a remix of “Saint” from “Somewhere in Between.”
Vérité isn’t super protective of her songs and enjoys what she hears.
“I like people’s creative reinterpretation of my music,” Vérité said.
Kelsey’s rise to prominence began in 2014 with the self-release of “Strange Enough.” But her musical career reflects a slow and methodical progression of sound tracing its origins to an 8-year-old girl’s passion for singing.
“When I started, I wasn’t sure what I wanted,” Vérité says. “I didn’t know what the sound was. The direction slowly evolved.”
“If you juggle with it long enough,” Vérité says of her music, “you can see light.”