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Celeste Kellogg to perform at Suffolk Center

When Smithfield native-turned-Nashville recording artist Celeste Kellogg released her newest album, “Keep it On Repeat,” in February, she had more shows on her calendar for 2020 than any prior year, plus a planned tour to support the release of her third single to radio.

In March, when COVID-19 reached all 50 states, Kellogg admits she expected the pandemic to last only a couple weeks, maybe a month at the most. Then April went by, then May, and shows kept getting canceled or postponed — even the outdoor ones she had planned for over the summer.

“You definitely have to reinvent the way you do things,” Kellogg said. “Not being able to share your music with people in a live atmosphere is definitely missed.”

Adjusting to a world where live events can quickly turn into super-spreaders of infection if precautions aren’t taken hasn’t been easy for America’s gig performers, even for a rising star like Kellogg, who, in 2018, was crowned Nashville Universe’s Female Vocalist of the Year. With few in-person performances this year, outdoors and for small crowds, she’s turned to Facebook and an online concert platform called “Stageit” to continue to perform for friends and fans — but will be returning to the stage this Thursday, 8 p.m., at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

“It’s hard as an artist not to be able to perform in front of people,” she said, admitting her in-person appearances come with their own share of stress.

“I find myself over-analyzing everything,” Kellogg said. “Did I get too close to that person? What if they have COVID?”

Then, after each show, “I have to stay away from my family in case I am a carrier,” she added.

No one in her life has come down with the virus so far, but “my heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one,” she said. “For those that it hasn’t affected physically, I’m sure it has mentally. I can’t imagine how teachers feel right now.”

To minimize the risk, attendance in the center’s 530-seat Birdsong Theater will be capped at 100 to facilitate social distancing, but the concert will be streamed live to the Suffolk Center’s Facebook page for free. In-person tickets are $10 per attendee.

Kellogg is also scheduled to perform at the Cypress Creek Golf Club in her hometown on Nov. 28 for the club’s Christmas on the Green concert.

Kellogg got her start in music by joining her church choir at Smithfield Baptist. At age 12, she auditioned for a local Disney pop group called RD7 — opening for Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Raven, The Cheetah Girls and Kelly Clarkson at concerts that came through the Hampton Roads region. At 14, she attended a music camp in Los Angeles called School of Pop, where she met multi-platinum music producer Andrew Lane.

“Fast forward a couple months, we were writing and producing my first album in Nashville,” Kellogg said.

Now 26, she’s since released two songs to radio — “Country Swagger” and “There’s a Beach Somewhere.” Her music video for the former was filmed aboard the battleship Wisconsin docked in Norfolk. Both charted on the Music Row Country Airplay Charts, with the latter placing in the top 40.

Kellogg officially identifies herself as an indie artist, but often is drawn to country music for its “honesty and purity.”

“Of course, every ’90s baby loves Britney Spears, NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, but … I found my home in country music because that’s the music I ended up writing when I sat down to write,” she said. “I usually find my songwriting inspiration from experiences that I’ve been through — relationships, losing loved ones, having fun, visiting the beach or even childhood memories. I try to draw from real personal experiences because I like to share my stories. If a song I write during a hard time in my life can help someone else when they are going through a hard time, I feel like I have done my job as a songwriter. Nothing makes me happier!”

Kellogg is also an actress, having starred in the movie “Much Ado About Middle School,” opposite Bill Cobbs, Lee Meriwhether and Blake Michael of the Disney Channel. She received callbacks for the television show “Glee” and for the 2016 made-for-TV musical “Hairspray Live,” for the role of Penny Pingleton before the role was ultimately given to Ariana Grande.

This year, she’s spent most of her time in Smithfield, where her family still lives, but will be heading back to the studio later this month to finish a project about NASCAR to be pitched to Fox & NBC Sports. An avid NASCAR fan herself, in March 2021, Kellogg is scheduled to begin filming the movie “Short Track Saturday Night,” where she will play the character Kelly Jordan — a race car driver.

Tickets to see Kellogg in-person at the Suffolk Center can be purchased at https://ci.ovationtix.com/35330/production/1031747 or by calling the box office at 757-923-2900. The Suffolk Center is located at 110 W. Finney Ave., Suffolk.