Friday Find #20 – Kiera Stella
Kiera Stella is not your average college student; as a junior at Belmont University in Nashville, she stands out from the crowd. Originally growing up in the suburban town of Oyster Bay on Long Island she is currently racing through the third year of a four-year undergrad songwriting degree in the 12 South neighborhood of Nashville. In her free time, however, Stella is also actively pursuing a career as a solo country artist in tandem with her studies. Having been writing her own songs since freshman year of high school, Stella manageably balances her regularly-scheduled major classes with songwriting, recording, gigging, and the increasingly more frequent interviewing from publications and media outlets across the country; with upcoming shows scheduled on Long Island and in upstate New York (as well as an exciting December 2 ticket at Opry Mills Unplugged in Nashville), Kiera stays busy impressing audiences up and down the east coast with the original songs in her carefully-crafted library. When asked about her hometown of Oyster Bay and her current residence in Nashville both serving as inspiration for her songwriting material over the years she concludes that they are equally vital to the artist she is today. Reflecting on her path, she says: “I feel like songwriting-wise being in Nashville has really helped me grow, just because of all the people I’ve met… but I think where I grew up and having my family listening to country music turned me into who I am today and made me want to [be a singer-songwriter].” Growing up in a family that was constantly listening to country music instilled the country roots in her as a musician, and while she admits to growing up on acts like Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift, among others, her songs to date seem to also noticeably reflect the sounds of current country radio staples, featuring production and lyricism that align her with the recent success stories of rising artists like Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris. Musically, Stella emits unique and powerful qualities that make her stand out as an songwriter. Her first official single, “No More”, which is now available for streaming and purchase anywhere music is sold, is a clear-cut pop country anthem that is already experiencing its fair share of radio play. The rocky-relationship piece brings forth a bubbly, pop-centric chorus structurally supported by slightly more reserved but sonically-steady verses. When asked about the ideation behind the song, Stella points out that the recent joining of forces between the pop and country genres in the music of the artists she admires most is the foundation that she had in mind. The final working of the song, which features acoustic instruments like guitar and mandolin balanced with synth and electronic sounds creates a lively, balanced atmosphere outlined by the central idea of breaking free from restraint. *Kiera Stella performs the Walker Hayes song “Halloween (feat. Nicolle Galyon)” with Hayes at The Nutty Irishman in Farmingdale, NY. Dec. 27, 2018. As Stella recalls, one of her goals with the song in particular was to unite more audiences along the cross-genre lines. As with the music of Taylor Swift in recent years and Maren Morris on her recent collaboration with electronic producer and DJ Zedd, Stella believes that the pop-country subdivision has the power to bring fans of different genres together and attract audiences that otherwise wouldn’t be interested in the genres separately. The final version of “No More” seamlessly integrates both acoustic and electronic sounds and makes for a light and fluffy but hard-hitting record nevertheless — one that Stella says she can certainly be proud of. Stella, while currently working on her first official album, is also putting together some timely releases for the holiday season, including an upcoming rendition of “Last Christmas”, she revealed during our interview. Stella’s cover, which is a collaboration with fellow singer-songwriter Corbette Jackson, is scheduled to be released within the next few days but in the meantime, the sneak peak on Stella’s Instagram feed can be seen here! From a bird’s-eye view, Stella’s professional career may be at its onset but it feels like her dreams and determination will carry her far beyond solely a degree in songwriting. After receiving her first guitar at the age of 10, it seemed only fitting that her roads would eventually lead to Nashville. As for now, upon graduating from Belmont in Spring 2020 Stella plans to continue pursuing her singer-songwriter career full-time by making Nashville her permanent home. Until then, catch Kiera playing a show near you and stay on the lookout for new releases from one of country music’s brightest rising stars.