If there was one word I could use to describe Kina Grannis’s live show it would be heartfelt. As with everything else the songstress does, Kina manages to create an intimacy with her audience that is truly astonishing. Grannis has such confidence in this connection with her fans that at one point she steps away from the microphone and unplugs her guitar to perform a completely unplugged version of her song “Message for the Heart.” Sure enough the audience packed into the Phoenix Concert Theatre is so quite that even I, standing near the back of the venue, can still hear her. What really blows my mind though, is that when the audience joins her in singing the chorus they do so in such a sweetly hushed manner that our combined voices do not overpower hers. Yes, even with a venue full of fans singing along with her I can still hear Kina’s unamplifed voice from where I stand!
How does this songstress captivate her audience so? Maybe it’s her voice, the purity and vulnerability of which is uncompromising in its presence. Or her quirky sense of humor and girl-next-door stage banter? Clearly the audience is familiar with her big hits, ‘Valentine’ and ‘In Your Arms’; clear because they are singing the words without missing a beat. Kina’s sweet melodies are accompanied only by the strum of her guitar and the deep rich tones of the cello played by the charismatic Keith Tutt II. Her simpler than the standard full band (bass, drums and guitar) accompaniment seems strangely appropriate for songs the songstress often admits are deeply personal three am musings. This setup even suits the few covers of popular songs she performs including Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ for which she enlists the help of Keith Tutt II and her opening act, Imaginary Friend, to bring to life beautiful harmonies. Kina saves this one till the end of the show, knowing that after having watched this cover on-line the audience has been waiting to hear it live.
In fact there is nothing standard about Grannis’s success, walking away from a record deal she won in a contest in 2007 Kina went on to record ‘Stairwells’ independently while cultivating an on-line following, a community affectionately named ‘Kination.’ Kina keeps this following entertained with innovations like her video for “In Your Arms,” shot entirely of stop-motion jellybean art and, by fostering a personal connection with her fans through social media sites as well as the meet-and-greets she holds after every show. Having purchased my tickets two months in advance of the show I missed my opportunity to buy meet-and-greet passes, as they were sold old by then! Regardless, there are free bags of jellybeans on the merch table and I walk away from the show with a big smile on my face and the sweet taste of jellybeans in my mouth.
You can find out more about Kina Grannis at http://kinagrannis.com/
Grannis an independent music success story has managed to create an image and sound that is authentic to her person and it shows in the comfort of her delivery.