with video: YouTube phenom Kina Grannis returning to perform her songs at the Blind Pig
Songwriter Kina Grannis has charmed millions of fans with her enchantingly pure voice. She did not need a major label to do it (although she has gotten the offer), just her YouTube account and commitment to herself.
Songwriter and internet phenomenon Grannis will perform with Imaginary Friend at the Blind Pig on May 3.
To date, Grannis has 199 videos uploaded on her YouTube channel, mostly of her performing original songs or cover songs. The channel is now nearing a billion video views with more than a half-million subscribers.
A breakthrough moment happened in 2008, when part of her music video "Message From Your Heart" played as a Super Bowl XLII commercial. She had entered and won the Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" contest, and 90 millions viewers were exposed to her music all at once.
Flash forward to last year, when the release of her music video "In Your Arms," a masterpiece in jelly beans, took more of the world by storm. Grannis performed the song on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live." It is a real piece of fine art, using 288,000 jelly beans and stop-motion animation. A behind the scenes video shows the labor-heavy creation process. It took her, director Greg Jardin, and a team 2 years to make it frame by frame. Most amazingly, Grannis appeared in real time, by laying down on a clear plate above the jelly bean art for each individual frame.
Grannis got an offer from Interscope Records after her Super Bowl spot; however, she decided to stay independent. Instead of going the major label route she continued to use the Internet as a medium to reach fans. Her breakthrough 2011 album, "Stairwells," was independently produced. She likes it that way.“What the Internet has enabled is a middle class of musicians. Before, you could be a struggling artist playing open mics and coffee shops, which I did for many years. Or you could sign to a major label and get huge. There weren’t very many people in between those two levels,” Grannis explains.
“Now with the Internet, most musicians are in the middle ground, where they are doing it on their own and they are getting by doing exactly what they want. It has really empowered a lot of people,” she says.
Her adventures in YouTube began in 2007, the same year she graduated from the University of Southern California. As a student focused on psychology, she frequently would sit alone under stairwells, composing songs.
She remembers the first time she realized how powerful the Internet was after she posted a parody song about Digg.com on the popular sharing website. "My sisters and I wrote a song, 'Gotta Digg,' about the culture of its community. We started refreshing the page, and we watched the view count start exploding," she says. They watched it go from 0 Diggs to #1 on the front page.
"That was the first time I realized, wow, something insane is going on in the Internet," Grannis says.
A young woman with a truly big heart, Grannis started a charity this year to raise money and awareness for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Run Team Kina supports awareness about the importance of having a healthy lifestyle and exercising, and she encourages people to run in charity races. Official Run Team Kina race month is coming up in June 2012. Go to the Run Team Kina website to find out more about her passion outside of music.
Fans at the Blind Pig on May 3 can expect a "casual" show, according to Grannis: "There is no part of me that wants to be that 'rock star' performer. It's very much like I want to welcome them into my living room."