WHO'S NEW ... KELLIE COFFEY

Sweet Little Lie

One day a few months ago, Kellie Coffey and a couple of song-writing friends got together. "It was one of those great days for writing a song," she recalls.

Then tragedy intervened.

A call came informing one of Kellie's fellow writers that a dear friend had died in a plane crash. Rather than scrap their plans, the threesome immediately turned out "When You Lie Next To Me" - now Kellie's first hit - in his memory.

"I know this sounds weird, but we felt like he was a part of it," she says. "It was one of those times when it flows through you from somewhere else."

Music has always flowed through Kellie. "I came out of the womb singing," she chuckles. Growing up in Moore, Okla., Kellie debuted on the stage of the Oklahoma Opry at age 8. "It was really cool for a little kid," she remembers.

Kellie continued singing, and after earning her degree in vocal performance from Oklahoma University, she headed west to Los Angeles in 1993. "I just wanted to know if I could make a living as a singer," she says. "But I also got to see what I was really good at."

What she was good at, it turns out, was country - so she began to make trips from California to Nashville in 1995. In the meantime, she got a little sidetracked - for one thing, she met future husband Geoff Koch, also a singer, while working on a musical in L.A. "We became best friends, and then I was like, 'Yeah, I think I'll marry you!' " laughs Kellie.

She wound up singing songs Geoff wrote for TV's Walker, Texas Ranger - and snagged a few other high-profile gigs as well. Visitors at Disneyland and Disney World can still hear a pre-recorded Kellie singing at several attractions, and she's the voice of a commercial celebrating Walt Disney's 100th birthday. And she also sang backup for Barbra Streisand.

By 2000, Kellie had scored a Nashville record deal, and she's now putting the finishing touches on her first album. "It's really me," she says of the record, set for a May release. "It's soulful and country and rootsy."

Kellie has an apartment in Music City, but she and her husband still spend most of their time in L.A. "I could live in Nashville very easily," she admits. "Dragging my husband is the problem!"

He may not be ready to pull up roots yet, but Kellie's husband is behind her 100 percent. "Because Geoff's a singer too, he knows what it's about," she explains. "He understands, and he's supportive. I'm a really lucky girl."

- Chris Neal

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