Hip Hop, Education & Vocal Artistry – Kia Kadiri

Hip Hop Artist Kia Kadiri in Performance
Photo by Diane Smithers
This Hip Hop Artist battles flautists, visits schools and inspires youth.

Kia Kadiri is a professional Hip Hop artist and songwriting instructor who is helping to transform communities in Vancouver and beyond.

She’s opened for KRS-One, “battled” an orchestral flautist with a “Flight of the Bumblebee” faceoff (!) and recorded with Malcolm Jamal Warner and UK Beatboxer Killa Kella.

Kia also tours hundreds of schools, performing and inspiring youth to claim their cultural identities and develop self-confidence.

Best singing or performing advice you’ve received:  

Be yourself, Have fun, always thank your soundman – and thank the audience after every song!

What is one video difficult to complete – and what made it so?  

My performance for flight of the bumblebee was the fastest rap I had written to date.  It was very challenging to record, because I had to stay so perfectly still to move my tongue that quickly and stay in time.  As an mc it’s natural to move in time, so rapping without moving is hard to get into the vibe!

A favorite quote that inspires you

I’ve got three!  All from Nina Simone:

  • “I was interested in conveying an emotional message”
  • “When I’m most satisfied with my musical performance, I drew on all the things I learnt in classical music” 
  • “Freedom is NO FEAR, what it means to be free” 

Some objects at home that inspire your musical work :  

Page protectors, binders, highlighters (basically any stationary items)! I  love my diffuser with essential oils, and my led light strip, usually with red or soothing color tones

A key turning point in developing your own unique vocal work? 

Learning how to count bars and how to write any of my poetry in time to a beat.  Also, the realization that I can improvise with anything I’ve written over any piece of music – as long as I can adapt to the key and know the mode or scale being used.

Kia Kadiri and her Dj - Succomandante getting ready for the virtual performance
Me and my Dj – Succomandante getting ready for a virtual performance.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned in terms of vocal health:  

Never to scream or yell, especially over loud music or crowds. Also how to breathe and support using the diaphragm, and simple things like warm tea, or chewing gum before I start singing in the studio or sessions (just to create saliva, and relax the muscles). 

What’s your preferred way to warm up your voice?

I always warm up with gentle humming, usually in the shower before shows.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned in terms of technique?  

Relax. Breathe. Support. Annunciate. Articulate. Posture. Mic technique.

Vocal artists who inspire you?

I’ve always been inspired by the greats… Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Eminem, Chuck D, Mos Def, KRS one, Rakim, Nas, Tupac, Common, Missy Elliot

What is it about them? 

They each have something special, but they all uplift, sing from the heart, have a unique personality and make their music seem effortless while conveying a story.  They are all mad technicians as well!

Kia Kadiri and Stephanie Standerwick at Armoury Studios
Kia and Stephanie Standerwick at the fantastic Armoury Studios – what a treat to record live to video (which nobody does) with the amazingly talented Stephanie.

One lesson with tech (mics, camera, recording) that’s helped you make or share your music?  

Always listen to the experts in the studio.  Trust the producers and engineers when it comes to gear and tech. 

What are you currently working on in terms of Hip Hop or your music-career?  

I’m developing classes for online teaching, working on a few music videos, writing for other artists and doing guest work as a session vocalist.  I’m more focused on music school these days, learning engineering, pro-tools, logic, Ableton, music theory, piano and composition.

First performance?  

Speech and Drama adjudication at age 5 

What did you learn from that performance?  

To stand in the face of fear and overcome!  Confidence, posture, and practice makes perfect!

Kia Kadiri performing a live improv with the John Korsrud band.
Kia performing a live improv performance with the John Korsrud band. Photo credit: Diane Smithers

What performance would you single out as being a “turning point” & why?  

My first time performing my newly recorded record with a full 9-piece band, dj, back up vocalists and dancers, at the Commodore Ballroom for jazz festival in 2005?  It was just a special moment, one of the best sounding rooms, amazing stage sound, amazing energy between all the musicians, and it felt like I was floating on top of the world!

One or two critical steps you took to reach larger audiences with your music? 

Getting a manager and an agent. And licensing my music to tv shows.What are some of your career dreams/goals?  

Kia Kadiri: On Spotify | On YouTube | On Facebook

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