Soul Pop Songstress Krista Jane’s Moving From One Mic Drop Moment to Another

Photos courtesy of ELVO Music

Receiving a standing ovation at the legendary Apollo Theater has to factor into any emerging musician’s top three ways to make an opening statement. For Ottawa’s Krista Jane, this dream became a reality when the young singer watched an audience rise out of their seats to boisterously applaud her performance of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly during the iconic venue’s Amateur Night. Along with the crowd approval she would nab first place.

That mic drop moment would be hard to top but Jane would unknowingly make an effort to when she lit Twitter up a few years back after singing the U.S. and Canadian national anthems at a Senators game. Words like “stirring” and “incredible” were generously tossed into the social media universe causing many to wonder where they could track down some original music from the budding songstress.

They wouldn’t have to wait long. While finishing her Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Ottawa and working as a tax analyst, Jane began recording her own music while popping up at open mic nights around Ottawa to bust out the voice that wowed them at the Apollo. It's dipped in groovy vibes and cinnamon sweet soul pop that evokes Jane’s idols Lauryn Hill and the late Whitney Houston.

Last year she hooked up with local entertainment company ELVO Music and has just dropped a stunner of a first single in “Waters Overwhelm”.

“Krista has a vibrant and soulful voice” says Lynx, artistic director at ELVO Music, “Her new single Waters Overwhelm is musically endearing with a small infusion of dancehall, world beats and pop sound. I think people will be pleased.”

For an artist all about making powerful impacts, the fact that the word overwhelm is in this single is poignant. Krista Jane’s light has just moved from a flicker to a flame. An inferno is on the way. We suggest the Canadian music industry ready themselves.

Ottawa Life chatted with Jane about that emotional night at the Apollo, how she’s shaped her sound and just where we might expect her to be mic droppin’ next.

Ottawa Life: What first got you interested in singing?

Krista Jane: I have been singing since I was a child – I vividly remember being in the kitchen showing off to my parents that I can sing Whitney Houston songs. I’ve always wanted to pursue singing as a career but I just didn’t know how. I reverted to singing competitions hoping they would help me kickstart my career. Although I was successful, they never helped me in that sense. Eventually, I realized that I had to work for it on my own and I’m so glad I was able to join ELVO Music to help me do just that. 

What do you feel are some of the early introductions to music that inspired you?

My family is very musically inclined, and I would say that my sister Joyce, who is an international opera singer, has had the biggest influence on me. By pursuing her dream, she influenced me to pursue my own.

You were in the running for Canadian Idol. Outside of your family, who are some of yours?

Whitney Houston and Lauryn Hill are my top two idols. Although both have a very different sound, you can feel the emotion in their voices. I was always so amazed as to how effortless they both made singing seem.

Can you tell me how your  family and friends have been supportive of your musical aspirations?

My family and friends have always been supportive of my musical aspirations, because they truly believed that I had the ability to get to the next level. Also, Lynx, my artistic producer and director at ELVO Music, has played a crucial role in supporting me and helping me further advance my singing career.

Though new to the scene, you have a strong vocal range and mature sound. How have you shaped this?

Not only do I love singing but I also enjoy challenging myself. When it comes to choosing songs to perform, I don’t shy away from songs that require a lot of range and a great deal of effort. I believe that this really helped me build my voice over the years.

How did you get involved with Canadian Idol?

I was 16 years old when I auditioned for Canadian Idol. Following the multiple rounds of auditions throughout the day, I was invited to come back and perform in front of the judges. I chose to sing “Run to You” by Whitney Houston. My performance granted me a Top 200 Gold Ticket which allowed me to continue the competition in Toronto. The judges handed me the ticket and I was in shock! I walked out of the audition room in tears – I just couldn’t believe it!

Can you tell me about your experience with the auditions?

Although short-lived, it was an unforgettable experience. My performance during the first round of group auditions didn’t go as expected. I sang the song in a very low key. It was so low that I could barely finish singing the line but I didn’t have the confidence to correct myself. When the judge said: “Well, that couldn’t have gotten any lower”, I knew right then and there that I wasn’t going to make it to the next round. I was only 16 at the time and I learnt a very valuable lesson that day.

It must have certainly carried over into your break out night in New York. How did you get from O-town to the Apollo?

I remember watching Lauryn Hill’s performance on Amateur Night when she was 13 or so. She had gotten booed during that performance. I wondered how it would be to perform in front such a tough crowd. I checked to see if there were any auditions coming up and they were happening weeks later. I jumped on the opportunity and booked my flight to New York, where my sister was staying at the time. I showed up to the audition at 4:45AM but at least I was the first in line. 

The Supremes, James Brown, Michael Jackson, to name a few…what was it like for you performing on that stage so many legends have played on in the past?

I just felt so lucky to be on that stage. It made me feel like I could do anything I ever dreamed of and that the possibilities were endless. My first performance went very well, I won first place and I had never been so proud of myself.

Why did you choose “Killing Me Softly” to perform there?

It was Lauryn Hill’s performance that led me to audition in the first place. Not only am I a fan of hers but her remix of the song with The Fugees is timeless. It is a legendary stage and a legendary song. It didn’t make sense to me to sing anything else – that was the song. 

Can you tell me what was going through your mind when you received that standing ovation?

I cried. I was looking in the crowd for my family to see the smile on their faces. I can’t really remember – there was so much adrenaline rushing through my body.

How would you define the sound you are looking to produce in your music?

My taste in music is very versatile. I love R&B, Pop, Hip-Hop just to name a few. The most important thing for me is what I sing about. I love to sing about real life stories – not always my own but those of people I know as well. I think that we all go through the same experiences at one point or another in life. I aim to touch people and have my music be a means to dealing with these experiences.

What were some of the  challenges you feel you faced and how did you go about overcoming them?

Having the courage to pursue my dream of launching a music career has been the hardest part. It’s easy to record music and send it to your friends and family but I didn’t think it would take so much courage to release my music to the world. It required a lot of sacrifices, a lot of hard work but my team has been there every step of the way to push me to get out of my comfort zone. This has been the most rewarding experience. I couldn’t be any happier about my music being available on platforms like iTunes and Spotify. It is just a great feeling. My dream is coming true one step at the time.

What changed after joining ELVO?

Since joining ELVO Music, I’ve really been introduced to the meaning of hard work. This team is really strict on artist development. I never realized that a career in music would require so much discipline. I have been working a full-time job and doing overtime at the studio writing with my team, recording and rehearsing until the late hours of the night. Despite how hard we work, we have a lot of fun doing it. I truly believe that you have to love what you do so that it doesn’t ever feel like work. My team at ELVO has been very supportive and I truly feel like I am developing as a professional artist.

How did you find balancing your school life with your music career?

While in university, I was so focused on my studies that it felt impossible to advance in my music career. I still tried to perform as much as possible, but school occupied so much of my time. The Ottawa Senators gave me an amazing opportunity to sing the anthem at the games, which allowed people to hear about me despite the fact that I wasn’t very focused on music. Because of this, I have gained a lot of supporters throughout the years that I’ve performed there, which is incredible. Everything happens for a reason and I am glad that I can offer my 1st single Waters Overwhelm on March 2nd. I hope that people will love it!

What went into developing the single?

Once I joined ELVO Music, Lynx, who is my producer and artistic director, and I began recording songs for my first EP which will be released later this year.

Can you tell me what this song means to you on a personal level?

This song shares the story of a drowning relationship and of a woman with the strength to get back up after feeling so defeated. It’s a reminder that you can handle anything that comes your way – regardless of how rough the waters may be.

What were some of your favorite aspects of recording it?

This song was unlike any other song I have ever recorded because of the constant change in emotion. My producer and I like to experiment with different sounds which can be vocally challenging at times. In the 2nd verse of Waters Overwhelm, I had to sing with anger and attitude. I had never sung like this before but I must say that it was vey liberating it is now my favourite part of the entire record.

What do you hope audiences get out of a first listen to “Waters Overwhelm”?

I just hope that they will love it!! The song is a mix of Pop and R&B infused with world sounds and so I hope that the audiences will appreciate the originality and melodies that this song brings.

What are some of your future plans regarding your music?

My first single Waters Overwhelm will be released on March 2nd and I plan on releasing my first EP in the coming months. Stay tuned!