Hogan was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of a Vietnam War Army veteran helicopter pilot who went on to become a policeman. Hogan's parents divorced, with her mother later remarrying and relocating to Rutledge, Georgia while her dad still lives in Douglasville, Georgia.
Hogan is the oldest sister in her family. She has younger brothers.
None of Hogan's family are musicians. Because both her parents worked, Hogan and her siblings spent most of their time with her grandmother in her apartment in midtown/downtown Atlanta growing up, where they listened to country music station WPLO. Music was constantly playing in her own home as well.
She went to high school in Douglasville, Georgia. Although painfully shy, Hogan eventually auditioned for chorus, going to All State Chorus every year. In addition to being active in chorus and drama, Hogan said she started singing in bars when she was in high school.
Hogan often goes by the moniker "Hogan." She is an avid dog lover, and used to tend bar and tour accompanied by her late dog Augie.
Hogan has a Jim Stacy lower-back tattoo that says "singers get all the pussy."
She lives in Evansville, Wisconsin.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Hogan sang with the cabaret, country, jazz, and punk band The Jody Grind (a Cabbagetown, Atlanta band originated by Bill Taft), singing on their full-lengths One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure (1990) and Lefty's Deceiver (1992). The Jody Grind toured with singer Robyn Hitchcock. The group disbanded after two of its members were killed in a car crash.
In the mid-1990s, Hogan joined the indie rock band Rock*A*Teens, another Cabbagetown area band, appearing on their 1996 EP and the 1997 full-length Cry. Kelly Hogan played guitar and sang backing vocals in the band from 1994 to 1997. After the release of Cry, Hogan left the Rock*A*Teens and relocated from Atlanta to Chicago.
Her debut solo record, The Whistle Only Dogs Can Hear was released in 1996, and featured covers of songs by Will Oldham and Vic Chesnutt.
Hogan released her first record for Bloodshot Records entitled Beneath the Country Underdog in 2000. The record, "brilliantly intuitive readings of other people's songs," was produced by Jon Langford (Mekons, Waco Brothers). The Pine Valley Cosmonauts were her backing band.
Her second solo Bloodshot release, Because It Feel Good, was released in 2001 and was produced by Hogan and former Sugar bassist David Barbe. At the time of this record's release, rock critic Peter Margasak described Hogan as "principally an interpreter, capable of wringing more from a cover than most people can find in their own material," even though with this release she wrote two songs (with guitarist Andy Hopkins) on the record.
Hogan released her most recent solo record—and first record in 11 years, I Like To Keep Myself In Pain, on ANTI- in 2013. The album is a collection of songs either written for her or chosen for her by songwriter friends Andrew Bird, Vic Chesnutt, Jon Langford, Stephin Merritt, M. Ward, and others. The title track was written by Robyn Hitchcock. For the recording of this record, "a dream-team band" was assembled: organist Booker T. Jones, drummer James Gadson (Bill Withers, Beck), bassist Gabe Roth (Dap-Kings), guitarist Scott Ligon (NRBQ). They recorded at EastWest Studios (Pet Sounds) in Hollywood, California.
Hogan appears on records by Mavis Staples, the Mekons, Will Oldham, Matt Pond PA, Amy Ray, Giant Sand, Archer Prewitt, Alejandro Escovedo, Drive-By Truckers, Jakob Dylan, Tortoise, among others.
Hogan was a backing singer on the Decemberists' "What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World" album, and also sang on the tour to support the album's release.
On other artists' records:Jakob Dylan - Women and Country (2010)
Mavis Staples - You Are Not Alone (2010)
Alejandro Escovedo - Burn Something Beautiful (2016)
The Flat Five: a "song interpreters" band made up of Kelly Hogan, Nora O'Connor, Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough and Alex Hall, typically performed annually at the Hideout (Chicago) holiday show. In 2016 The Flat Five released their 12-song debut album “It’s a World of Love and Hope”, on Bloodshot Records, and started performing in public more frequently, at the Hideout and elsewhere. Every song on the album was written by Scott Ligon's older brother Chris.
The Lamentations: gospel duo with Kelly Hogan and Nora O'Connor.
Lipstick and Dynamite, Piss and Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling: contributed songs to documentary film by Ruth Leitman, her friend (and former landlord from Cabbagetown), about women wrestlers
The Love Hall Tryst - Songs of Misfortune: mostly a capella British folk music performed by indie supergroup composed of originator John Wesley Harding, Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, and Brian Lohmann.
Wee Hairy Beasties, a children's band project created by Jon Langford.
The Wooden Leg: jazz band, made up of Kelly Hogan, guitarist Joel Paterson, organist Scott Ligon, and drummer Kevin O'Donnell, that played regularly at the Hideout (Chicago) in a three-year-long residency.
Cover song project at radio station WXRT: Hogan recorded a cover song a week for an entire year. She also became one of three DJs for a popular WXRT show called “The Eclectic Company.”
In 1998, Hogan joined singer-songwriter Neko Case's band, recording and touring with the band as a vocalist. Hogan continues to tour with Case. On her ongoing relationship with Neko Case: "We hit it off immediately when we met. We just spoke the same language." Hogan and Case sing "These Aren't the Droids" on the charity comedy album 2776 (2014)
A select discography:Appalachian Christmas (Cast album) (Theatrical Outfit, 1994)
A Whistle Only Dogs Can Hear (Long Play Records, 1996)
Beneath the Country Underdog (Bloodshot Records, 2000)
Because it Feel Good (Bloodshot Records, 2001)
I Like To Keep Myself in Pain (ANTI-, 2012)
There was a comprehensive fan club page and mailing list focused on Kelly Hogan until 2006.During the mid-1990s, performed in starring roles in the stage productions of Appalachian Christmas and The Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Chilling Tales of the Sea at Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta.
In 2004, Hogan played Simon Zealotes in the Indigo Girls' revival of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar.
In 2008, Hogan lent her voice to the season 5 episode "Sirens" of the animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force, in which she (as The B.J.Queen) and Neko Case (Chrysanthemum) play Sirens who have taken former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman John Kruk (himself) captive for arcane sexual purposes.
In 2013, Neko Case and Hogan performed on Wits, singing songs and acting out comedy skits
From 1998 to 2008 Hogan worked as a bartender at The Hideout, a music venue in Chicago known for putting on an annual block party in September.
She also worked publicity for Bloodshot Records.
Hogan has worked as an assistant for American cartoonist and author, Lynda Barry, helping her arrange her teaching schedule.