KINA GRANNIS – American singer
Kina Grannis is an American singer-songwriter who grew up in California (she is half Japanese, half European American) first learning the violin, but at age 15 she found the guitar was her instrument. After apparently playing gigs in front of her stuffed animals and singing with her sisters, when she got her own guitar she started to compose her own songs. She then went to the University of Southern California in L.A. in 2003. Kina was so good staff at the University’s Thornton School of Music asked her to produce an album for their music industry departments. That E.P/Album became her first entitled, “Sincerely, Me” was released in 2006. She self-released 2 more albums the same year and then won the Doritos Crash The Super Bowl contest and earned a recording contract with Interscope Records. This was due to the video to “Message From Your Heart” being shown as a winner during half-time at the Super Bowl XLII in February 2008.
Since then, Kina has been one of the most popular personalities on YouTube with her videos having over 99 million views! After signing with Interscope, she did not release anything with them and instead told them she wanted to remain an independent artist and self-released her album “Stairwells”. She has won several awards, appeared in short films and her songs have appeared in many TV shows such as General Hospital and Home & Away.
I first heard Kina only recently when I found the song “The Fire” online, I just thought she had a beautiful voice and reminded me a little of Susanna Hoffs from The Bangles. I thought I should check this lady out. She can, at one point remind you of alternative singers like Alanis Morissette and Tegan & Sara, then swiftly make you think of Karen Carpenter and Country stars past and present!
Her first extended E.P/Album in 2006 was called “Sincerely, Me” and already showed great guitar work and some lovely vocals. The opener “Blindly” could have been lifted from Alanis’ “Jagged Little Pill”, while “Next To Me” is very melancholic and shows a little more of Kina’s vocal range. “Highlighted In Green” is an upbeat poppy track with a nice little wah wah guitar riff and catchy chorus. A very interesting debut from the lady with promise of what’s to come.
The first proper album, also released in 2006 was entitled “One More In The Attic”. “Why Can’t I?” is like a hybrid of Cyndi Lauper/Alanis and is a lilting, atmospheric track which showcases the strength of Kina’s vocal when heard almost alone. “Running Away” is a gorgeous emotive ballad and “Missing” is an Acoustic number which give a nice “live” feeling in a small theatre. “What Is Said” is an almost Country number. The album shows her confidence in trying new things even at this early stage of her career.
The last of the trio of recording sets of 2006 came in the form of “In Memory Of The Singing Bridge”. This album wasn’t wholly slow, emotive numbers like the previous two track lists. “Walk On” and “Too Soon” are very sweet Pop/Country while “Don’t Cry” is an experimental track that is strangely engaging, with the unusual guitar playing and vocals that normally wouldn’t match but they work. “Memory” is quite a nice ending to the album, reminiscent of Tori Amos.
The first album to have more than 9 tracks was released in 2010, “Stairwells”, this was the album that escalated Kina’s popularity and lifted her career to new heights. It debuted at #139 on the Billboard 200 and also #5 on the Billboard Top Internet Album Chart. Included in this set was the first single “Message From Your Heart”, a gorgeous song in the vein of The Bangles, light and poppy. “Valentine” is another Pop/Country cutesy foot tapper, and “It’s Love” is a sweet, whimsical number that will give you a nice, warm feeling inside. “Stars Falling Down” and “Without Me” are two more brilliant Pop/Rock songs akin to The Bangles. Bright and catchy choruses and a more mature sounding Kina Grannis fills this album.
After releasing a live album the following year called “The Living Room Sessions”, Kina has just released “Elements” in 2014. It contains the previously mentioned “The Fire” which I totally love. “Winter” is a very atmospheric and emotive song with signs of Alanis again but beautifully crafted. “Oh Father” is simply gorgeous and reminds me of Tori Amos at her most open and dark phases. “Throw It Away” gives a feeling of the 60s psychedelic age and “Dear River” has a Simon & Garfunkel backdrop and has a nice 70s feel. I am surprised I haven’t heard of this lady before now, she is a great talent!
Check out some of these tracks to hear the very talented Kina Grannis –
“Blindly”, “Next To Me”, “Highlighted In Green”, “Another Day”, “Try”.
(From “Sincerely, Me”).
“Why Can’t I?”, “Running Away”, “Missing”, “What Is Said”, “In Theory”.
(From “One More In The Attic”).
“Walk On”, “Too Soon”, “Don’t Cry”, “Memory”, “Breathe Honestly”.
(From “In Memory Of The Singing Bridge”).
“Message From Your Heart”, “Valentine”, “It’s Love”, “Stars Falling Down”, “Without Me”.
“The Fire”, “Winter”, “Oh Father”, “Throw It Away”, “Dear River”.
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