Born and raised in Mission Viejo, CA, Kina Grannis started playing shows at the age of 4 in front of stuffed animals. Now she plays in front of people. For those who knew Kina as the shy and self-proclaimed-awkward songstress who escaped into her collegiate stairwells to practice and play in privacy, the idea of playing in front of inanimate objects might actually seem fitting. But between those who travel across state and country lines to her sold out live shows and those navigating through her extensive library of YouTube videos, it’s quite clear that Kina is hardly playing for no one.
In 2007, after four years at USC (where she recorded and self-released three EPs) and a brief move to Austin, TX, Kina joined YouTube, made a music video and entered herself into Doritos’ Crash The Super Bowl contest. In the months that followed, Kina began to accrue followers, lots of them, making herself right at home in front of her computer. Her Two Weeks For Kina site traded daily videos in exchange for votes, and while her votes piled up her following grew exponentially. A few months later, her video for “Message From Your Heart” aired during the Super Bowl and its 97-million viewers and Kina had a YouTube following, a Twitter following, a #1 video on Digg.com, a street team and, for a short time, a record deal.
Kina says, “One of the most amazing things that came out of the whole experience was the relationship that formed between me and my supporters online. They were right there on the journey with me, and every bit of success I had was thanks to them.”
Exchanging creative control for independence, Kina forfeited her record label, determined to record and release the songs she’d been writing for years. In true DIY form, Kina self-funded and independently-released Stairwells in early 2010. She released a music video for her single “Valentine,” which accrued nearly nine million views on YouTube.
Since the original release of Stairwells, Kina has continued super-serving her ever-loyal following. She spent much of 2010 on the road, headlining venues across North America, performing sold out shows at Los Angeles’ Troubadour and El Rey Theater and New York City’s Highline Ballroom, spending hours after each and every show signing autographs for, taking pictures with and talking to anyone in attendance. Kina also had a slot on 2010’s Lillith Fair where she played alongside Sarah McLachlan, Metric, Mary J Blige and Ingrid Michaelson.
“Touring is just the best thing ever,” Kina explains. “I love everything I’ve built online. I love that I can connect with supporters from all over the world from the comfort of my own home. But to travel to places I’ve never been before and play in front of real-life human beings, to see their faces and hear their stories and thank them in person for everything they’ve done for me and my dream… it really is such a powerful and exciting thing for me.”
On April 5th, 2011 Kina released a remixed and remastered version of Stairwells – this time in stores – thanks to an independent label partner in One Haven Music. The album debuted on Billboard’s Top 200 and at #2 on the Top New Artist / Heatseekers chart. This new version of Stairwells includes fan-favorites “Valentine” and “Message From Your Heart” in addition to four brand new tracks.
Kina will spend the rest of the year on tour and online, in North America and around the world – and doing what she does best: talking to friends and followers, supporters and strangers, and writing and performing her sweet, melancholy, hope-filled songs. And, as always, saving drowning honeybees from pools whenever she gets the chance.