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.”