A native of Tarboro, NC, Kelsh cut his teeth in the Chapel Hill music scene while attending University of North Carolina. There, he fronted Jack and the Cadillacs for four years and performed with local favorite Southern Culture on the Skids. After releasing two independent solo albums, Ghost Dance (1988) and Steel Blue Ballads (1993), Kelsh relocated to Nashville, where he has since collaborated with Music City notables Rodney Crowell, pedal steel player Rusty Young (Poco), and Stu Cole of Squirrel Nut Zippers. An introduction to ex-New Grass Revival bassist John Cowan led to a background vocal spot on Cowan's 2000 self-titled release for Sugar Hill. Kelsh's folksy independent CD Well of Mercy followed in 2001, recorded at Crowell's personal studio with the help of producer Bill Halverson (Cream, Neil Young, and the Texas Tornadoes). Contributors included Cole, Cowan, bassist Michael Rhodes, Young, and vocalist Joy Lynn White.