Kiesza

Singer-Songwriter
Class of 
2011
Alumni

Kiesza, whose full name is Kiesa Rae Ellestad, blazed into fame after her YouTube video “Hideaway” received nearly 60 million views in 2014. That success led to a spot on the Late Show with David Letterman, where she performed the song and embellished the experience by dancing out of the studio and into the street—through a spraying fire hydrant—before returning inside to finish.

Kiesza was born in 1989 in Calgary, Canada, and began playing guitar while in the Royal Canadian Navy. She also was a dancer in her teens, performing jazz and tap with the Young Canadians as well as studying ballet. After a knee injury, she gravitated to music, winning a scholarship to Berklee. Although she first concentrated on folk singing, her Berklee experience widened her perspective, and she began to explore a more up-tempo sound when she moved to New York City after graduation.

A winner of two Juno awards (for Breakthrough Artist of the Year and Video of the Year), Kiesza has delivered hit songs such as “Sound of a Woman,” “Giant in My Heart,” and “Take Ü There.” She has written songs for Jennifer Hudson, Rihanna, and Kylie Minogue.

In a 2014 interview, Kiesza credited Berklee with developing her songwriting talent. “Berklee brought me together with people I could work with and collaborate with,” she said. “I think working together with people really helped me grow as a songwriter.”