Kelly DeWayne Richards was born in Decatur Indiana and started playing piano when he was four years old, practicing for hours everyday. He studied with music teacher, Judy Hakes Martin, from 1968 until 1979. By this time, he had won several awards and spent five years touring with The Men’s Four Quartet. In 1980, he enrolled at Indiana School of Music and spent the next five years pursuing a degree in music education. It was during this time that he also discovered his fondness for Broadway music.
In 1985, Kelly moved to Florida and started playing piano at many different venues in the Orlando area, while continuing his education to finish his degree. As a voice major, he studied with Dr. JoAnne Stephenson at University of Central Florida and graduated with a 4.0 average in the spring of 1998. After completing his degree, he auditioned for Walt Disney World and was hired on the spot as a pianist/vocalist for the company. He continues to teach and perform at the various WDW venues, productions and Performing Arts Workshops.
Over the past years, Kelly has also performed for many of Central Florida’s theatrical productions, as well as popular local venues. Along the way, he has played for the casts of Super boy, Crazy For You, Evita, Five Guys Named Moe, Altar Boyz and others. He has also had the privilege to play for such celebrities as Paula Zahn, Steve Guttenburg, John Travolta, Billy Joel, Christie Brinkley, Ann Miller and many more.
'Kelly has completed two CD’s. His first, “Affectionately Yours”, is a collection of piano solos from the Broadway musicals “Cats”, “Evita”, and the movie soundtrack from “Ice Castles”. The second CD, “The Phantom of the Palace”, is a collection of piano solos and vocals, with songs from the Broadway musical “Les Miserables”.
No one has said it better than music enthusiast, Robert Parr: “I am constantly amazed at his ability to play such a wide variety of music. The technique is there - clear, precise, and right on target. What makes Kelly exceptional is the emotion he superimposes in his technique. He and the piano become one. The experience is one of the watching as well as listening. He can tear you up with one song and put you back together with the next one, but something wonderful has happened in between. You are never quite the same person. You are a little better because of the experience. Simply put, Kelly is…something special.”