When The Times first spoke to South Philadelphia’s Bright Kelly in 2019, he was at the top of his game. His band The Great Enough, comprised of Bucks County and Philly musicians, was celebrating the release of its debut EP Born. The guys could be heard on numerous radio stations, and graced the same stage as industry giants like Imagine Dragons and Young the Giant.
They were actually living the dream.
Fast forward a year, and Kelly’s dream turned into a real life nightmare. With shows – and his main income – canceled for the foreseeable future because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly found himself in an unexpected and uncomfortable position.
“I had been reduced to needing help,” Kelly admitted to The Times. “I didn’t like that feeling. There was a moment where I realized I needed help and I had to ask for help.”
Kelly knew there were countless other musicians in the same boat. So, just as he received a leg up from friends and family, he wanted to do the same for someone else.
Recently, Kelly released a cover of “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash, with proceeds benefiting both artists struggling during the pandemic and racial equality. Kelly is currently searching for the perfect hyper-local beneficiaries.
“If I don’t find a partner who has 100 percent transparency and very low overhead, by which I mean the dollars are going where they need to go, I’m going to redirect to several smaller charities in place of it,” Kelly said. “I will be keeping receipts and posting those to our social media so that people can see where the money goes, and I’ll be making regular announcements.”
The idea for a charity song was formed after Kelly performed the track on his Twitch show, which he hosts every Thursday. Viewers gave him an unprecedented amount of positive feedback and urged him to record the track. Instead of calling on The Great Enough, which has been recording non-stop over the last year, Kelly recruited band friends from across the country.
“I thought it would be cool if we did a whole telecommute thing where nobody was ever in the same room, and that’s the way it turned out. The players on this song have never met each other face to face at all. It was a big trust exercise,” said Kelly. “I did the piano and the vocal and sent it to the drummer. He recorded drums, he sent it back to give to the bass player, etc.”
Final production took place at Turtle Studios in Philadelphia, which Kelly praised for its COVID safety measures. Owner Jay Levin volunteered to help Kelly “put a bow” on the recording with professional mixing and mastering.
“None of those guys charged me a cent for their involvement in the project,” said Kelly.
Musicians featured on “I Can See Clearly Now” are David Aguiar from The Brevet on drums; Rich Ratner on bass; Kristopher Phillips from K Phillips on B3 organ; and Brian Fitzy on violin.
“All that sound is only five guys, which I thought was kind of impressive,” Kelly praised.
“I Can See Clearly Now” is available on BandCamp for either $1 or whatever listeners want to pay. Fundraising efforts will continue for the foreseeable future.
“This is going to be an ongoing process,” said Kelly. “I’ve committed to not putting a time limit on how long we’ll collect donations for the song within reason. So hopefully, we can build a little bit of a snowball and really do some damage with it. And when I say ‘damage,’ I really mean undo some damage and do some help.”
It seems as though 2021 will be a brighter year for Kelly. The Great Enough, which also includes John Huff (drums), of Abington, Brian DiBiagio (lead guitar) and Robby Crane (bass, keys), both of Warminster, is “alive and well and kicking” with plans to drop new music.
On an exciting personal note, Kelly shared that he will soon be a dad. He and his wife Melissa are expecting their first baby in July.
“Hopefully by then, things make a little more sense and we can invite ‘working title potato’ into the world without any extra precautions, and we can safely let our family be a part of the whole experience,” he said.
Visit brightkelly.bandcamp.com/track/i-can-see-clearly-now to listen to and purchase “I Can See Clearly Now.”
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com