kelli caldwell single cover


2019 Winner West Coast Songwriters Song Contest Kelli Welli


in the West Coast Songwriters International Song Contest!


For "Turtlurtlurtle"
and Honorable Mention for
"La Lullaby"

Find these songs on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, YouTube and in local Portland stores!
Writing for Kids...

Current focus: Children's picture books... more to come.


First book I ever read in full all by myself... I remember finishing this for the first time, while riding the bus after school in Mendocino, California. I remember looking at each and every detail in each picture and I felt so proud to be able to finally read a whole book.


PICKLE PICKLE PICKLE JUICE by Patty Wolcott, illustrated by Blair Drawson

pickle pickle pickle juice by Patty Wolcott

artist statement


I know now that my writing reflects a complicated relationship and history with my own voice. It took me a long time to be comfortable with my speaking voice. Because of my naturally high pitch, and perhaps for being the smallest kid in the room, I was constantly censured and poked for “talking baby talk.” This lasted well into my young adulthood. When telemarketers would call, they’d ask if my parents were home, and I’d have to say, “No. Not anymore. I’m 32.” When I had landed a phone interview for an internship with Harper’s Magazine, my grad-school professor said, “Wonderful. Now, if we could only do something about your voice…”

I didn’t grow up in a religious home, but when I was young I wanted to try out church— until I showed up and everyone was singing. Already self-conscious about my voice, I was very intimidated. I didn’t know this was a prerequisite for getting nearer to God. I felt unworthy and left longing. I didn’t know the first thing about singing.

But I could write. I mean, I could go there, to that place, the page or that space in my mind. There it was just me and the words and details, where I had time and freedom to be big and loud and strong and say anything I wanted. That was where I could just be myself. That was where my voice could be judged not by pitch but by my ideas and the words I chose to express them.

Then one day on a road trip, a boyfriend said, “Hey, let’s write a song!” I laughed. Pshaw! But then I opened my mouth and out flowed words and a melody—just like that. I was as surprised as he was. It wasn’t a hit song—“Yuck, Albany Smells”—but it was a start. And it was a long journey from there before I would share anything with anyone else.


It was through songwriting, though—usually alone in my car, writing and rewriting, singing each line over and over, having to get past the discomfort of hearing that voice, my voice, that had never been good enough, because I was so driven to finish and find out what stories would unfold in each song—that is where I finally came to accept and, eventually, believe in my own voice.

I’ve realized that as part of this journey, I have always been in tune with, almost collecting, voices. I am attracted to and remember voices. Most of my stories and songs are written in other people’s voices. They matter to me. I hear them and see them. I love receiving inspiration as a first sentence or stanza comes to me, then finding out the story behind the voice.

I endeavor to share my stories and songs, these products of my journey. I hope other people enjoy them, of course. But I am having fun, regardless, in the pages, in the melodies and rhythms, with each word and detail, my friends.

At 44, I know now I am a songwriter, a storyteller, a believer. I am voice worthy.

kelli welli bio

Kelli writes stories and songs for kids and the people who love them. As the lucky mom of twin toddlers, a boy and a girl, it's natural that her current focus is on picture books, though she began writing for children long before she had kids of her own.


"I remember a lot about being a kid," Kelli says. "I remember the details, what mattered to me, and what it felt like to be a kid in a grown-up world. I have a lot of respect for kids and I want them to feel believed in."

Kelli has a Master of Publishing degree and B.A. in Speech Communication with minors in Japanese and German. After working in public relations for Harper’s Magazine in New York City, she returned to Portland, Oregon, where, in 2004, she started a corporate publishing business with a focus on non-profits, renewable energy, small businesses in development, artists and musicians.

Perhaps due to her unconventional upbringing, Kelli has always danced to her own beat. She is the daughter of two fine artists—her mother, an award-winning wearable artist and illustrator, who has created props for movies and children’s author promotions, including for the late Caroline Feller Bauer; her father a successful oil painter and conga drummer, who has painted local cultures throughout the world. Her grandfather took his wife and four young children on a trip around the world in the 1950s and wrote a book about the experience, FAMILY SAFARI.

As a child, Kelli did a stint as a French clown named Rosebud; started kindergarten from a tent; lived in an octagon-shaped house on stilts with her one-eyed cat named Mighty Mouse; staged her first protest at age 5, by wearing a bathing suit at a nude beach alongside her best friend, Summer Wind O'Redwoods; and had 50+ hamsters at one point. She has raised angel fish from eggs and kittens with a bottle, plays ice hockey, and is a collector of uncommon seeds and plants, having developed (with lots of trial and error) a fairly green thumb.

Kelli grew up in Northern California and small-town Oregon, with summers in the creeks of Idaho, and has spent time living solo in Finland, Tokyo, Vancouver B.C., and at the corner of 1st Street and 1st Avenue in NYC.


Kelli Welli - Writing songs and stories for kids and the people who love them.

Thank you to Crystal Pettit Photography for the fun photo shoot with kids and family and a lot of paint!
Some of my grandfather, William E. Caldwell's books:
Family Safari by William E. Caldwell
Fundamentals of College Chemistry
College Chemistry


TRAVEL BABBLE, Binfords & Mort [1972]

i like...

these books a lot:


A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston, Sylvia Long


Haiku Baby


Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz


Hair in My Dirt


Pout Pout Fish


Baby Loves to Boogie


We Go Together


I Am Lucille Ball by Brad Meltzer


Canada in Colours


Little Blue Truck


and more...

i like...

  • these CDs a lot:
  • Elizabeth Mitchell
  • Harmonica Pocket
  • Snowdance Tim Uecker

  • Bare Naked Ladies Snack Time CD
  • World of Dreams - Charlie Hope

Elizabeth Mitchell You Are My Sunshine

Putamayo Dreamland CD


Putamayo Asian Dreamland


They Might Be Giants



'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime cover Was it Love in Your Eyes - Single - Kelli Caldwell - Songwriter Kelli Welli - Writing for Kids and the People Who Love Them Kelli Welli on guitar kelli welli writing for kids and the people who love them square logo


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