Born and raised in Canton, Ohio, Kelly Williams displayed talent at a young age. “When I was only three or four years old, I would sit on the floor and bang on the pots and pans,” he explains. A good student, Kelly’s parents got called to school only when Kelly was acting up for his classmates. It would be a talent that would he would capitalize on at the tender age of seven. “The Gong Show held auditions at my school and I was selected.” Kelly became the youngest contestant to win the popular television talent show. “I knew that my only options were to work in a factory, pursue music or sports, or wind up in prison. I tried all of them,” tells Kelly.
Even during his brief incarceration in his teens, Kelly’s abilities got him noticed at the talent shows put on by the inmates. “One of the CO’s approached me and said, ‘You really have something.’ It became a turning point for me.” Kelly returned to church and started working on a mainstream CD. “After I appeared at the Apollo, I heard God say to me, ‘This is it.” I didn’t win but I thought it was Him saying that I was going to be successful. It wasn’t that. He was calling me to devote myself to making positive music. The producers said that there was no market and my project just disappeared,” he shares. In 1991, re-dubbed “Prodigal Son” as a nod to the God who had responded to his return with open arms, Prodigal found his way to South Florida. “I had a dream of moving to California, Georgia, New York City or Florida. Some were out because of the weather and after God made himself clear, I found myself in South Florida.”
Over the years, Prodigal has opened for a variety of artists including R. Kelly, Trina and Busta Rhymes. His first CD, Rhythm and Street was nominated for a 2009-2010 Stellar Award and was named 2010 S. Florida Gospel Rap Artist of the year.
Prodigal has formed his own record label “HOLY-wood Records” with his last release Kingdom Swagga-nomics making its way to #21 on Billboard’s Gospel Music Charts for the week of August 21, 2010. His latest compilation project, Welcome 2 Holy-wood features Wen, Vell P., Hall of Faith Saints, Cameron Joy, Voice, BI-Lingo, Cataz and Renegade of The King and was inspired by God.
“I had never heard of Moses when God told me to be a “Moses” to other artists and to bring them out. It was a couple of years before I even read Exodus and realized that God was referring to all the people who had come to me for help producing their projects,” he states. Even the consultant he hired encouraged him to produce the compilation project. “The consultant told me he didn’t know why but this would be successful for me. It has been so interesting to be a part of these artist’s efforts,” he adds.
A song and a topic close to his heart is one featured on the Welcome 2 Holy-wood project. Hidden Rage explores the epidemic of bullying among teenagers. “The depression, the violence and the self-hatred are all things I dealt with when I was younger. This video is something that I am very proud of. This is an issue that must be addressed before we lose another generation.” Prodigal’s second cut I Know You’re Here 4 Me is an anthem of faith: “This is an example of worship hip-hop and it is straight from my own life and struggles.”Prodigal Son and Holy-wood Records Welcome 2 Holy-wood Compilation CD releases April 26 and is available at major retailers and on-line at BestBuy.com