published Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Curtain Call: 14-year-old Chattanooga native featured in 'Joyful Noise'

  • photo
    Ivan Kelley Jr. is busy these days working on his acting career, as well as his music career. He is in "Joyful Noise," staring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

When Ivan Kelley Sr. moved his family to Atlanta to further his son's music and acting career, he knew success would take hard work, luck and perseverance. He just didn't quite know how hard the work might be.

"We asked for this," he said, of the grueling schedule 14-year-old Ivan Jr., has assumed.

Three years ago, Ivan was discovered by a producer for "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" singing Michael Jackson's "I'll Be There" on YouTube, and he was invited to sing on the show. Since then, he has also been part of "The King Michael Tour: A Tribute to the Late Michael Jackson."

Last year, Ivan landed a role in "Joyful Noise" starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. In the film, he sings the lead on Billy Preston's "That's the Way God Planned It." The movie opens here Friday.

He's been busy in recent weeks promoting the film, recording music, rehearsing and getting ready to tour.

Last week, the single and video for his first release, "Scream," was released. and the young singer was officially recognized as a distinguished citizen by Mayor Ron Littlefield.

Q: How have the last few weeks been for you?

A: It's been fantastic, phenomenal and overwhelming. It's overwhelming because of all of the things they've got me doing.

Q: How long were you on set?

A: Five or six hours a day for almost a week.

Q: Were you on set with Queen Latifah and Dolly?

A: Yes. We took lots and lots of pictures and hung out when we could. When they were busy -- which was a lot -- I hung out with my peers or whatever.

Q: What did you learn from the experience?

A: I learned it takes a lot of hard work. We had to practice, and I mean practice like crazy, crazy, crazy. There is a lot that goes into this movie thing.

Q: Were you familiar with "That's the Way God Planned It" prior to getting the part?

A: No. The first thing I did was get the lyrics and learn them and make sure I had it as right as possible because I didn't want to lose my part.

Q: Where was the movie filmed?

A: Here in Atlanta. We did the soundtrack in California.

Q: Have you done any of the press junkets?

A: We did one in Atlanta and have one in California. We are trying to do one in Chattanooga. I'm getting some awards from the mayors in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville and doing some promotional stuff.

Q: Do you get back here often?

A: When I have business and to see my family. Everybody is still there except my immediate family.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: We actually released the single and the video for "Scream" this week. We are getting shows together and practicing with the band. Just working, working, working.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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