In front of a massive crowd at the 2010 Coachella Music Festival, Jay-Z performed his hit New York anthem “Empire State of Mind.” The single famously featured Alicia Keys singing the chorus, but on this sultry California night, a promising young newcomer stepped up to belt out the catchy refrain. Though Bridget Kelly always had big dreams, singing a song about her hometown alongside the city’s most famous rapper–who’s also her boss and mentor–was almost beyond her comprehension, until she did it. “It was the greatest opportunity for me as an artist,” Kelly tells VIBE. “To be on the stage with Jay was life changing.”
As an artist signed to the rap mogul’s Roc Nation label, Kelly has already made a name for herself thanks to her critically acclaimed EP Every Girl and “Special Delivery,” the single to her not-yet-titled debut album, which has already made a splash on radio stations across the country. Kelly says her success is a testament to hard work and her musical roots, having graduated from New York’s famed Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts (notable alumni: Slick Rick, Nicki Minaj, Azealia Banks).
In addition to touring with Jay-Z, the Chelsea native recently opened for another one of her musical idols, Brandy, and will soon release her first music video, which, not surprisingly, was filmed in New York. It almost goes without saying, then, that Kelly knows the city well, so we asked her to share a few of her favorite spots to shop, dine, and lounge in this “concrete jungle, where dreams are made of.”