JACQUELINE McKinnon was born in Paisley, Scotland on October 16, 1957 to proud parents Alex and Jeanette. All her childhood Kelly dreamed of being a star. Kelly went to Voice and Drama school from the age of 10. At 12 she started singing in competitions. She appeared on TV for the first time at 15 and started to sing professionally when she left school. At the age of sixteen she had her first taste of success with her winning appearances on the UK television talent show "Opportunity Knocks" (Thames Television), winning this four times under the name Keli Brown singing "I Don't Know How To Love Him". This led to her first recording contract with Pye Records. Her first single, "Who's That Lady With My Man" was released in April 1976. One month later, this song took the French Top 50 by storm peaking at No.1 in July and earning Kelly a gold disc for sales in excess of 500 000 copies.
At the very same time, Kelly scored a No.2 hit-single in Ireland with "Sister Mary" a duet with Joe Dolan. The follow-up to her French No.1 hit was entitled "Help Me" and reached the No.8 spot in France in November 1976. In February 1977, her single "All We Need Is Love" was released in France. "Run To Me" was released as a single in June 1977 and soon became a disco classic in most European clubs. In September 1977, it reached the No.22 position in the Dutch Top 40 and peaked at No.5 in South Africa.
In November 1977, Kelly Marie was chosen to represent the UK at the World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo with the song "Sentimental Kisses". Although she was knocked out in the semi-final, nothing could keep this lady down. Kelly also recorded a Spanish version of "Sentimental Kisses" which was released in Spain only. “I needed a translator in the studio with me while I sang it one line at a time to get it right” says Kelly.
In February 1978, "Make Love To Me" was released. In May 1978, it became a hit single in South Africa peaking at No.2 in the national chart. At the end of October, "Make Love To Me" entered the Australian Top 40. It reached No.5 in 1979 and charted for an incredible total of 41 weeks. It became the 12th best-selling single of 1979 Down Under (and 7th best-selling single of 1979 in the Sydney area). In January 1979, "If I Can't Have You", a country/pop flavoured single was released but didn't meet much success due to a lack of promotion.
Later that year, Kelly and Pete Yellowstone noticed a Ray Dorset tune in the Red Bus Music office. Kelly liked the song so much she went into the studio to record it. Kelly's vocals and the drum beat were definitely one of the hooks. "Feels Like I'm In Love" was first a hit in South Africa (No.7 in November 1979) before it got Kelly's career started in the UK. It started to chart in the UK charts in August 1980 and was a massive hit one month later: a No.1 hit-single for two weeks, 7 weeks in the Top 10 and a total of 4 months in the British charts. It sold over a million copies, and became the UK 3rd best-selling single of 1980 and Kelly earned one more gold disc to add to her collection. In the autumn of 1980, "Feels Like I'm In Love" became a worldwide hit: No.2 in Belgium, No.4 in the Netherlands, No.5 in Germany and No.6 in Australia, No.3 in Ireland.