Whether she's interviewing country music superstars and legends backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, chatting it up with a fan she meets on the street or talking through a television screen to a few million folks Nan Kelley has an uncanny ability to connect with people.
Born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, southern hospitality and the ability to shoot the breeze with anyone about anything were not just taught to Nan they were practically encoded in her DNA.
"My mom, a hair dresser, is Dolly Parton from the movie Steel Magnolias," admits Kelley. " I get my gift of gab from her. Growing up in a beauty shop, you pick up a lot around the shampoo bowl!"
Kelley took her first steps toward a television career when her love of the stage and talents on it earned her a Miss Mississippi crown and an opportunity for a small-town girl to see the world. She globe-trotted for several years for the Department of Defense entertaining troops in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, the Middle East, Alaska and Europe.
It was a pit stop in Nashville, however, where she found her breakthrough opportunity that would eventually make Music City her permanent home.
In 1998, she was chosen as the lovely and loveable sidekick to host Gary Chapman for the Tonight Show-esque late-night series Prime Time Country on The Nashville Network. She's been welcomed in homes across the country ever since.
Over the next few years, her experience in television and her relationship with the country audience would grow in leaps and bounds. Since 2003, Nan has been a fixture on one of the most popular and longest running shows in all of entertainment -- The Grand Ole Opry. She's the television host of Opry Live and has become a major personality on the Great American Country network. Fans get to spend time with Nan on a weekly basis as she hosts a handful of series, including the fan-voted GAC Top 20 Country Countdown. She also hosts many specials throughout the year, including the annual Academy of Country Music Red Carpet Show.
"Nan's secret weapon is her Mississippi charm," says Sarah Trahern, Sr. V.P. of Programming for GAC. "Time and time again, artists tell me that Nan puts them at ease the minute they walk into the studio."
More recently, Nan has seen her career branching out with more opportunities at other TV networks. She served as a long time host for the Shop-At-Home Network as well as hosting FINE LIVING specials, Easy Outdoor Entertaining and Forbes Magazines Best Places to Live & Work and the HGTV Dream Home specials.
When she is not out on the road or in the studio, Nan spends all the time she can with her husband Charlie, a Grammy nominated musician/producer and their dogs-- Molly and Big Chief. The warm, welcoming vibe of her family life has proven to be a source of inspiration in her work.
"Think about how you feel when you're at someone's home," says Kelley. "It's comfortable, the conversation is great, the mood is enjoyable. You don't want to leave. That's the environment I want to re-create as a host."