The Canadian band Hello Kelly has won an award from the Stuttering Foundation, an American organization helping those who stutter. The award, presented in New York last month by foundation president Jane Fraser, was for "Converting Awareness into Action", in recognition of creating hope and inspiration in the stuttering community. The band treated the audience at the awards ceremony to an unplugged performance of the celebrated song off their sophomore album, Easy for You to Say, entitled "Communication Breakdown".
The band's lead singer, Francois "Francy" Goudreault Jr., has dealt with stuttering all his life, and the lyrics in many of his songs reflect his feelings and experiences about it. Like a lot of stutterers, he can sing fluently. But music has never been just a hobby for Francois. In 2009 he left his hometown of Orangeville, Ontario and moved on his own to what could be considered the epicenter of the music industry in North America: Nashville, Tennessee. After meeting drummer Ben Mahaffey, bassist George Wong and lead guitarist Travis Wilbourn, Hello Kelly was born. Nashville producer Adam Smith has worked with them on both records.
The band has achieved six #1 singles on independent Canadian radio charts, pushed two singles into the Top-20 positions on USA CHR radio charts, and developed a relatively small but loyal fan base. The fans, to Goudreault, are the most important thing. For the band, operating a merchandise table is a good way not only to distribute their music but to meet and interact personally with fans. (The "Kelly" in their name refers to their audience). They do not shy away from relentless touring; which, as any musician who has been on the road knows, can be gruelling. In fact, Hello Kelly has "driven three vans into the ground" over the years travelling throughout North America.
With regards to his stuttering, Goudreault says he doesn’t see his it as a weakness, but rather something that has given him a unique perspective in life. He hopes people with hardships in their lives will be inspired to overcome them through the messages in his music.
Of the song "Communication Breakdown", Jane Fraser says, “Francy and his bandmates have set to music the struggles 68 million people around the world live each day. Francy’s message and achievement amplify hope for a new generation of people who stutter.”
Hello Kelly at the Stuttering Foundation awards