Kiesa Rae Ellestad, better known by her stage name Kiesza, is a Canadian singer-songwriter from Calgary who has most recently worked out of New York City and London. She is best known for her debut single “Hideaway“.
Kiesza was born in Calgary. When she was 16 she took part in the Sail and Lifetime Training Society (SALTS) program and a year later she joined the reserves of the Royal Canadian Navy along with her brother, with whom she became a code breaker.
Whilst at that, she also entered the Miss Universe Canada pageant. She attributes her time in the Navy as a reason why, in 2008, she gave away 4,500 CDs to Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan.
Kiesza took part in the Young Canadians, performing tap and jazz dancing, as well as theatre. When Kiesza was 18, she says that her parents’ divorce caused her to write her first song, as a way of expressing her feelings. The same year, she heard a song of hers played on the radio.
CKUA Folk Routes host Tom Coxworth selected her to perform for a live audience and to be broadcast live on his radio show. Shortly after, she was accepted to the Selkirk College in Nelson, BC, where she studied keyboard, voice and guitar.
Next, Kiesza obtained a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. After attending Berklee, she went to New York City to advance her music career. Although Kiesza started as mainly a folk singer, after attending Berklee and then living in New York, she moved to a more “uptempo sound” for which she works with producer Rami Samir Afuni.
In February 2014 Kiesza released the video for her new single “Hideway” through the indie label Lokal Legend. Idolator considered it unique, for having a single take through the entire video, as Kiesza walked through the streets of Brooklyn.
John Gentile of Rolling Stone called the style “impressive”. Kiesza reported to Rolling Stone that she had trouble making the video, partly because she broke a rib just before filming, and “couldn’t move for an entire month afterward.” It was premiered by Annie Mac on her Mac’s Special Delivery segment on BBC Radio 1.
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