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Kina Kasuya Grannis (born August 4, 1985) is an American guitarist and singer-songwriter. She is half Japanese and half European American. Grannis was the winner of the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest. As a result of winning, she earned a recording contract with Interscope Records and had her music video played during the commercials of Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008. She won Best Web-Born Artist at the 2011 MTV O Music Awards.
Her progress in the competition was covered in The Orange County Register and The Wall Street Journal. Grannis has also been featured on FOX News Los Angeles, Good Day L.A. and Yahoo!.
Early life and career beginnings
Grannis grew up in Mission Viejo, California, and it was here where her love for music began. In elementary school, she composed and submitted piano compositions to district art competitions. Soon afterwards, she began playing the violin, an instrument she would play throughout high school. By age 15, she started teaching herself the guitar and it was this instrument with which she fell in love.
She attended Viejo Elementary School, Newhart Middle School and, from 1999 to 2003, Capistrano Valley High School.
Grannis enrolled at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles in 2003. Two years later, staff members of the University's Thornton School of Music asked her to produce an album in their music and music industry departments. That album, Sincerely, Me., was released the same year. In 2007, she graduated summa cum laude in social science with an emphasis on psychology. While attending USC, she was inducted into academic societies Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi.
In 2006, Grannis recorded and self-released two more albums, One More in the Attic and In Memory of the Singing Bridge. In early 2007, she recorded "Ours to Keep" written by Rachael Lawrence and Deborah Ellen. This song would be featured regularly on General Hospital and was in an episode of the ABC Family's mini-series Samurai Girl in September 2008.
On November 14, 2007, she created her YouTube account and began posting videos of her songs online. Her first video, "Message from Your Heart," was entered into Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest. The contest, which she won, landed her a contract with Interscope Records. Her YouTube videos have received more than 99 million views and have propelled her to become one of YouTube's most popular personalities. Grannis planned to work with Interscope Records to produce a new album, but in January 2009, she announced that she was leaving the label to be an independent artist.
On February 24, 2008, Grannis sang the national anthem for the Auto Club 500 NASCAR race in Fontana, California. In June 2009 her songs "Never Never" and "People" were used in episodes of MTV's reality series College Life. On January 13, 2010 Grannis was the headliner at a sold-out show at The Troubadour club in Los Angeles.
In March 2013 Grannis gave a talk at TEDx Hollywood titled 'Finding Community Through the Internet'.
Grannis has also been a part of several Wong Fu Productions short films, including The Last, and the series Funemployed, as well as other YouTube stars videos. One of the bands Grannis has performed with in YouTube videos is Boyce Avenue. They have recorded many cover songs together such as Fast Car, originally by Tracy Chapman and the song With or Without You by U2.
Stairwells was released on February 23, 2010 and included many original songs already appearing on YouTube, as well as three previously unreleased songs: "World in Front of Me", "In Your Arms", and "Mr. Sun". Stairwells debuted at No. 139 on the Billboard 200, No. 5 on the Billboard Top Internet Albums chart, No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and No. 18 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart. The location of her release party for Stairwells, the Dakota Lounge in Santa Monica, was the subject of an article in the Orange Country Register because the venue enabled her to show her gratitude to her fans.
On March 13, 2010, her single "Valentine" was played by Paul Gambaccini on BBC Radio 2, a popular radio station in the UK. The music video for "Valentine" directed by a young and talented viral video director Ross Ching has been viewed well over 13 million times on YouTube.
Grannis' Stairwells Springtime Tour began in San Francisco on May 24, 2010 and concluded in late June after several stints on the East Coast and in Canada. Her Fall Tour began on September 17, 2010 and concluded on November 17, 2010. On July 10, 2010 she played at Lilith Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.
In 2010, Grannis was featured as Judy in a miniseries by Wong Fu Productions entitled "Funemployed".
In early 2011, Grannis was awarded the title of Sirius/XM CoffeeHouse's 2010 Singer-Songwriter Discovery of the Year after a months-long online voting period. Her song "Heart and Mind" was used for the German TV series Anna und die Liebe.
On November 3, 2011, Grannis released a stop-motion music video for the single In Your Arms, using 288,000 Jelly Belly jelly beans. It took about 2 years to complete the project. The video accumulated over 1 million views within the first three days. It now has over 10.6 million views.
World in Front of Me Tour (2011)
In April 2011, Grannis launched her first world tour. She performed in the eastern regions of Canada and in the eastern and southern regions of the United States. She continued in May through the northwest region of North America which included stops in Vancouver British Columbia and Los Angeles. Shows in Europe and southeast Asia followed into the fall of 2011.
In Your Arms Tour (2011)
In late 2011 and into 2012, Grannis launched her In Your Arms Tour in Europe, Asia (Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong), Australia, and North America.
'Elements was released on May 6, 2014 and was produced by Matt Hales, aka Aqualung. Starting in November 2013, Kina began ramping up for the forthcoming album with the launch of "Kina Mondays," which promised a weekly video via Kina's YouTube channel. Nearly six months later, she continued to deliver on that promise and released a video for "The Fire," the first single from Elements. The song showcases lush acoustics and folk-driven vocals. The following week another album track was released via video with a stripped-down version of "My Own" featuring Kina's sisters and their rich harmonies. "Dear River," an upbeat, sonically organic track, premiered on Glamour's "Obsessed Blog". On its release day, Elements hit #2 on iTunes Singer Songwriter Chart, and #1 on iTunes Canada.
Grannis announced that she would be celebrating the release of her sophomore studio album Elements with fans at a handful of intimate shows across North America, kicking off with a show at the Troubadour in Hollywood on May 6 - Elements' release date. From there, she performs in San Francisco, New York City, Brooklyn, DC, Boston, Toronto, and Chicago. The select dates were the first time fans could hear Elements live and also served as Kina's first official headline run since the spring of 2012.
In late 2014 and into 2015, Grannis launched her Elements tour in Europe and North America. In January 2015, she posted a survey on her Instagram to allow fans to vote for countries to be included in an upcoming tour in Southeast Asia.
Grannis has two sisters, Misa and Emi, both of whom have occasionally been featured in her video blogs, as well as accompanying her at concerts and on tour. Her father, Gordon, is a chiropractor and her mother Trish is a graphic designer.
On August 31, 2013, Grannis married frequent musical collaborator Jesse Epstein in a small ceremony in Los Angeles, California. They met while attending high school; Jesse was in the grade below Kina. Grannis used footage from her wedding to create the music video she released for her song "My Dear."
An avid supporter of cancer research, Grannis has performed at several Southern California Relay For Life functions over the years.
In late 2007, she contributed her music to the Band Together: To Fight Measles benefit album. In October 2008, she participated in the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco to support the Leukemia Lymphoma Society in honor of her mother, raising $6,000 for the organization.
In 2009, the philanthropic organization Sister to Sisters adopted her song "Message from Your Heart".
In 2012 she launched a charity project called Run Team Kina dedicated to the promotion of personal health and wellness and to raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. In 2012, Run Team Kina raised $71,886 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.