Pop, jazz and soul combine in latest Willows summer fare

Kristina Helene performs her jazzy vocals for Oak Bay’s free music in the park

Folk/pop/soul/jazz singer-songwriter Kristina Helene performs July 13 at Willows Park.

Folk/pop/soul/jazz singer-songwriter Kristina Helene performs July 13 at Willows Park.

Kristina Helene stages a jazzy return to Oak Bay this summer.

Helene performed this winter in a Crooner’s Christmas at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel but turns in the croon for n upbeat repertoire for the second Recreation Oak Bay concert at Willows Park July 13.

A young but experienced performer, she’s done a handful of outdoor venues including Butchart Gardens, the bandshell in Sidney’s Beacon Park and the popular Victoria TD Jazz Festival.

Described as a folk/pop/soul/jazz singer-songwriter, Helene doesn’t pigeonhole herself in the one genre, but does love her jazz.

“I’ve never really known what I am. I’ve never been in one genre. … I’m pretty much a chameleon,” she says. “I enjoy it but I enjoy so many other things as well. I think people need to not be so shy of the word jazz. I really do enjoy jazz.”

Her Willows Park concert will echo the recent Canada Day performance with the trio of Thomas Kinzel on keys, Kiaran McMillan on strings (left hand bass) and Matt Peas on drums. “We’re going to do some Eric Clapton, Billy Joel and Melody Gardot, who is my biggest influence in modern jazz. It’s a really nice balance of music,” Helene says. “People have really enjoyed the mix.”

Helene wrote her first song at the age of eight and recorded for the first time in a little garage four years later. She went on to work with producer Greg Gunhold and at 15 was nominated semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition for two consecutive years for her song From Here. She has won honourable mention awards from the Billboard Music for Where is this Going? and twice for How Could You?

She’s worked in LA with producer CJ Vanston and had the honour of recording a couple of jazz cover songs at Capitol Records with legendary engineer and record producer Al Schmitt and Steve Genewick.

While a final semester of school dominated recent months of her life. Helene thrives on an exceptional summer last year.

“Last summer was huge for me,” she says. She grew up listening to “incredible flamenco guitarist” Jesse Cook and met him a couple years ago in Los Angeles. They kept in some contact and so when he was performing in Victoria she simply threw out the question: was there room in his show for her?

“I ended up singing with him at the Royal Theatre last year. We performed Fragile and it was so beautiful. It was just a dream. His entire band is so talented,” she says. “That was huge and then the same month I got back on stage at the Royal Theatre again opening for Naturally 7.”

In December she returned for a second winter season at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel with the Crooner’s Christmas, performing alongside Maureen Washington. “It was fun it was a good time,” Helene says. “She’s just amazing, she’s so naturally funny on stage.”

She recently shared the stage with award-winning producer David Foster and had the honour of opening up for Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo and Naturally 7 with Kinzel.

“I want people to become more comfortable with the word jazz as it seems it has almost become a bad word in our generation’s culture. I am in no means only jazz, my music is a complex and beautiful mix of folk/pop/soul/jazz,” she says. “I feel that it is so important not to lose sight of where we got our roots. I want to dust off the word ‘jazz’ and put it back on its pedestal where it belongs.”

While she’s working on an original album with a tentative 2017 release, she’ll have on hand The Nearness of You, her eight-song mini piano vocal cover album – produced, played, arranged, mixed, and mastered by Kinzel. “It’s a romantic ballad album with some of our favourite covers from our jazz set list,” she says.

The concert starts at 6:30 p.m. July 13 in Willows Beach Park. Get a taste of the music at kristinahelenemusic.wix.com/kristinahelene online.

“I just hope they enjoy the show,” Helene says. “We do a song where everyone has to sing along to one part. Don’t be shy, just have fun and it’ll be a good time.”

The Oak Bay Parks, Recreation and Culture summer concert series continues with Fintan O’Brien performing July 27 and Impulse Response on stage Aug. 10. Concerts are 6:30 to 9 p.m. in Willows Park.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

Coroner Andy Watson confirmed the death of a man in Chemainus Monday night.
Death at Victoria encampment for people who are homeless deemed not suspicious

BC Coroners Service now investigating death at Royal Athletic Park Jan. 23

Learning tools from the Garth Homer Society’s LifeStreams program have gone online. (Facebook/Garth Homer Society)
Online platform launched for Greater Victoria adults with developmental disabilities

Platform includes programs, events, activities and COVID-19 resources

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

Most Read