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Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll: 'Sing 2' enriches kids' knowledge of music

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Tori Kelly returns in "Sing 2." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/5175475b89250ea43ff0d7ab3399a141/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Tori Kelly returns in "Sing 2." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Tori Kelly and Nick Kroll said that the Sing movies introduce kids to classics of rock music and teach valuable lessons about working together. Sing 2 opens Wednesday in theaters.

"We get to, even if it's a small way, introduce the next generation to some of these big, iconic songs," Kelly told UPI in a Zoom interview. "If I can somehow lead or guide people to experience the greatness of these icons, then that is amazing."

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Kelly, 29, voices Meena, an elephant who overcame her stage fright in the original Sing. In Sing 2, Meena has her first love interest on stage, and develops a crush on an ice cream vendor.

As a recording artist, Kelly has released three albums of original music and a Christmas album of standards. She competed in Season 9 of American Idol, but did not win, and released an EP in 2013 before her first album in 2016.

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Kelly sings Aretha Franklin's "I Say a Little Prayer" in Sing 2 with Pharell Williams as Alfonso, the elephant. Kelly also sings the more recent Shawn Mendes song, "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back" with Taron Egerton as Johnny the Gorilla.

"I would just sing covers on YouTube," Kelly said of her pre-Idol career. "So, doing covers has always been a part of me as a singer and as a performer."

Also returning from Sing 1, Kroll plays Gunter, a German-accented pig. Though Kroll, 43, does not have a singing background, he said singing in Gunter's voice makes him more comfortable.

"It feels a little safer," Kroll said. "I always apologize before I have to sing."

Kroll said he also enjoys introducing young audiences to songs that were popular before they were born.

"We're introducing a generation to the songs that were massive pop hits when we were kids, whether it's Prince or U2 or some of the disco hits that they've played," Kroll said. "I think it is wonderful that kids are going to learn these songs."

Gunter sings Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" with Meena, Johnny and Rosita, the pig (Reese Witherspoon). Gunter and Rosita also sing Ariana Grande's "Break Free."

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"It's insane that I'm a part of those songs," Kroll said.

Although Kroll is a newcomer to the world of singing, the actor said he can relate to the idea of putting on a show. In Sing 2, the characters are putting on a sci-fi musical that Gunter wrote.

In his show business career, Kroll has put on standup comedy shows and created television shows like Big Mouth and Kroll Show. He said that the Sing movies get the spirit of collaboration right.

"For anyone who wants to make anything, whether it's be in show business or start a business or a lemonade stand, it's much more fun to do it with other people," Kroll said. "It's important to learn how to collaborate and work together."

Having put on many music shows on tour, Kelly said she also can relate to the Sing movies. She missed out on touring in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and said recording Sing 2 recaptured some of the feeling.

"Another really cool thing about this movie is you feel like you're in the movie," Kelly said. "I just found myself clapping along and dancing and singing. You feel like you're really at the show, which is pretty fun."

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Kroll said he even learned something from Gunter.

"I've taken notes on how Gunter pitches, which is total passion, total confidence, total enthusiasm," Kroll said. "Something that I aspire to be better at is being uncompromising in my artistic vision like Gunter is."

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