While listening to Kelley Hunt perform - the singer/songwriter's joyously smoky, soulful blues vocals a perfect match for her funky and fiery piano skills - it's easy to imagine that the Kansas-based musician never lacked for confidence. As she admits during our recent phone interview, though, she actually did. She just didn't tell anyone.
"When I was about 17, I was in a band with my brother's friends, and these were older guys - like 21 or whatever," says Hunt with a laugh. "I wasn't singing at all; I was just playing these keyboards that they had. And one night we were playing for an event at the college in Emporia, where I grew up, and we were being paid, and the gal that was supposed to sing just did not show up. And it was time to start, and the guys looked at me and just said, 'Oh my God, we hope you can sing.'
"I was pretty much horrified," she continues. "I mean, I knew I could, because I was doing it in school, but never in this kind of setting. So at that moment, I just made a conscious decision: 'I'm going to pretend like I'm all about this, and I'm going to pretend like I'm not scared out of my gourd.' And I just slammed it out for a couple hours, and I remember thinking, 'Well, (a) nobody here even knows there's anything different, (b) the singer's fired, and (c) I now get paid twice as much.'"
Laughing, Hunt says, "I just stepped into it brazenly and naÃƒÂ¯vely, and just assumed that it would all work out."