Words and visuals by LeBron Pryce
Student artists at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) are finding opportunities around the city to spark their careers, including singer-songwriter Christina Kennedy. The Eyeopener got a chance to attend her Toronto-debut show at the Drake Underground on Oct. 27.
One could say the true energy and skill of a musician is revealed during their live performances. During last month’s Breaking Sound Canada’s show at the Drake Underground, Kennedy and her bandmates did just that by displaying their musical prowess in fine fashion.
Kennedy, 18-years-old, is a rising star in the music industry. Born in China, then adopted and raised in Vancouver, the artist now attends TMU as a first-year creative industries student. Now, she aims to take the music industry in Toronto by storm—starting late last month this past Halloweekend at the Drake Underground.
The Vancouver artist took to the stage with a bright smile and cheerful vibe that engulfed the entire venue. The audience and artists alike were hooked by her covers sung as a way to warm up the crowd to start the show. She fired off with “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, then swiftly transitioned into “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift. Kennedy’s covers of these songs not only showcased her range of singing abilities, but sent a contagious wave of energy through the air.
“I always start a set with ‘Mr. Brightside.’ It’s almost like my warm up. It gets me pumped, it gets my audience pumped and [it sets] the tone for the rest of the show,” Kennedy explained during a previous interview with The Eye.
Riding on the amped-up energy of the crowd, Kennedy then began performing her own originals, notably “All Night” and “We Can Have It All.”
Although Kennedy is known as a solo artist, the chemistry she had with her band was eminent. With drummer Raman Trehan laying the foundation and bassist March Rojas Velasquez backing the group, the rhythms flowed seamlessly. Then, with her skilled guitarist Trevor LaRose paired with Kennedy’s angelic vocals, the stage was filled with talent. The ensemble undeniably worked together like a well-oiled machine.
Kennedy’s charisma and personality serve as the foundation for her performances, engaging with the crowd every chance she got and breaking the wall between artist and audience in the process. This character trait—accompanied with vocal and lyrical talent—is a big factor in the atmosphere she creates when performing. From an audience member’s perspective, the interaction she creates with her crowd was refreshing and real.
“Being on stage is super rewarding, I really like it. It feels super homey…I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but the crowd’s energy is what feeds me,” said Kennedy in her interview with The Eye in October.
Kennedy looked comfortable on stage. Her lightheartedness in those moments in front of a crowd influenced the mood to become more relaxed and natural. It’s clear she delivers more than just entertainment when she performs. It’s a collective experience that she attempts to create for everyone.
With just a few songs left to perform, Kennedy closed out the show by asking for one request from the audience: for them to take a selfie with her for her mother back in Vancouver. After a bit of laughing and shuffling, the crowd gathered together in frame with beaming smiles for the photo.
Kennedy is making her way through the industry, performing at other local venues and gaining more and more traction after each one. Her most recent performance was on Nov. 14 at Big Fam Jam November Half-Time Show at Supermarket in Kensington Market. She is coming for it all and is as her song says, is just “A Dream Away.”
With files from Danielle Reid