Former Austinite Kina Grannis stopped in Dallas on her In Your Arms Tour for an intimate evening with a capacity-crowd at the Kessler Theater. During her show the singer-songwriter was charming, sweet, and at times a little bit goofy. The crowd loved every ounce of her.
Before we continue, let’s back up for a second. I have never seen the Kessler as full as it was during this show. I’ve attended several events at the south Dallas venue over the past couple of years. I should have seen a sold-out crowd by now but I haven’t. Not only was this crowd at capacity, but the theater had all the chairs removed in the center of the hall to accommodate the additional Kina fans.
So why Kina Grannis? She is grateful and she shares her gratitude freely with her audience. During her performance she specifically took the time to thank everyone in attendance for supporting her. OK, “so what” you say. It’s typical for an artist to throw out a “Thank you,” “You’re the best crowd EVAH!” or a similar accolade during a performance. Certainly, Kina did just that and “the crowd went wild” right on que as expected.
However, Ms. Grannis took anther step which was demonstratively different from anything I’d seen any other artist do at a show. She asked the venue staff to turn up the house lights so she could see the faces of those who came out to see her. this wasn’t for just a few seconds. She literally took her time, scanning the crowd, looking at the individual faces of those who took the time to come out and stare at her face for an hour that evening. It was a remarkable gesture. It showed a level of gratitude on the part of this particular artist which was undeniable. It will certainly leave a lasting impression many in attendance.
Looking at this young multi-instrumentalists’ past helps one understand other reasons why this 17-year-old looking 26-year-old Californian draws such a large crowd.
Grannis recorded and self-released two albums, One More in the Attic and In Memory of the Singing Bridge in 2006 at 21 years old. These were not her debuts however. She has been composing and performing since she was in elementary school. In early 2007, she recorded “Ours to Keep” written by Rachael Lawrence and Deborah Ellen. This song has been featured regularly on General Hospital and was in an episode of the ABC Family’s mini-series Samurai Girl in September 2008.
On November 14, 2007, she created a YouTube account and began posting videos of her songs online. Her first video, “Message From Your Heart,” was entered into Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest. Since then, her YouTube videos have received more than 96 million views and have propelled her to become one of YouTube’s most popular personalities.
The Doritos contest, which she won, landed her a contract with Interscope Records. Grannis planned to work with Interscope Records to produce a new album but in January 2009, she announced that she was leaving the label to be an independent artist. During an interview with Billboard, Kina explained that the whole process of “artist development” didn’t sit will with her. She preferred to work alone as an artist so being independent made the most sense to her at that point in her career. She is still an indy artist and doing very well, thank you very much.
Her next effort, Stairwells was released in February of 2010. The work included many original songs already appearing on YouTube, as well as three previously unreleased songs: “World in Front of Me,” “In Your Arms” and “Mr. Sun.” Stairwells debuted at No. 139 on the Billboard 200, No. 5 on the Billboard Top Internet Albums chart, No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and No. 18 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart.
In the month following its release, her single “Valentine” was played by Paul Gambaccini on BBC Radio 2, the most popular radio station in the UK. The music video for “Valentine” directed by video director Ross Ching has been viewed well over 13 million times on YouTube.
In early 2011, Grannis was awarded the title of Sirius/XM CoffeeHouse’s 2010 Singer-Songwriter Discovery of the Year after a months-long online voting period. Her song “Heart and Mind” was used for the German TV series Anna und die Liebe. Later that year, Grannis released a stop-motion music video for the single In Your Arms, using 288,000 Jelly Belly jelly beans. It took about 2 years to complete the project. The video accumulated over 1 million views within the first three days. To date, the video has well over 6 million views.
During her short performance at the Kessler Theater, Grannis was accompanied by Keith Tutt II on cello and Imaginary Friend on Guitar (for the last encore of evening). While the adoring crowd knew much of Kina’s set the three songs which were particularly well-received were her own Valentine and two covers.
The first was Taylor Swift & Civil Wars’ Safe and Sound. She handled this number better than Swift could have in a live setting IMHO. Her vocals were fragile where necessary, strong in others and defiant in all the right places. The last crowd favorite was her closing number, a cover of Cold Play’s Fix You. Keith Tutt and Imaginary Friend excelled on the harmonies, filling the Kessler with the tune’s haunting lyrics:
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you…
As the last notes echoed through the venue, the crowd, sitting on the floor for the majority of the evening, stood with a roaring ovation to see Ms. Grannis into the evening for her next show.
For more photos of this event go to: http://liveloudtexas.com/gallery-kina-grannis-kessler-theater/
You can visit Kina on your favorite internet thingy here:
Next Big Sound: http://nextbigsound.com/25240/stats-Kina-Grannis
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