Selkirk Provides Turning Point for Pop Star

Roots in the Koots Help Lead Kiesza to Current Success


When Kiesa Rae Ellestad was 18 and charting a course for a career at sea, an acceptance letter from Selkirk College’s Contemporary Music & Technology Program caused her to veer towards her true passion.

Today the 25-year-old Selkirk College alumnae is known as Kiesza and her music career has taken off with the meteoric rise of her single “Hideaway.” Over the last few weeks the Canadian singer-songwriter has watched her catchy pop/dance song claim number-one on the UK charts and the official video of “Hideaway” has more than 12 million You Tube views and is growing by ¼ million views a day.

Kiesza makes it big

Kiesza has shot to the top of the music charts in Europe, but remains humble during a time of great success.

"It was the pivotal point where I decided that I was going to give music a real shot,” Kiesza says. "I was more into sailing and learning to navigate; I was directing my life towards working on tall ships and was making my way to Japan. When we arrived in Hawaii I spoke to my mom on the phone and she told me that I’d been accepted to Selkirk College. I left the ship and took a risk, I decided to back to school."

Growing up in Calgary, Kiesza split her time between her love of music and dance with sailing. She was part of the acclaimed Young Canadians to fuel her passion for performance and the Royal Canadian Navy reserves to tap into her interest in water.

Before she left for her sailing adventure on the Pacific, Kiesza submitted an audition tape to Selkirk College after hearing about the highly respected two-year music program from a friend. Instead of heading go Japan on a tall ship, she packed her bags to Nelson with her guitar.

“Selkirk is one of the best places where you can go to really discover who you are as a musician,” she says. “To go there with an open mind provided me with a great opportunity because I was able to explore so many options. When I entered Selkirk I thought I was a folk singer, but I explored all these different styles and it’s turned out that I’m this electronic, diva, house musician.”

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