New Release! Kiara
With her feet firmly planted on the ground and her head in the clouds, KIARA is a mysterious amalgamation of opposites. At once spiritual yet sensible, child-like yet decidedly womanly, this bi-lingual artist is equally at home as a young urbane American on the streets of Manhattan as she is the vibrant Latina in her native South America. She has the spice and determination of her Venezuelan father and the romance and fire of her Italian-American mother, who blessed her first child with a name that means "light." An impassioned and talented artist, KIARA's music reflects the many aspects of her personality. The songs on her eponymous debut CD, produced by Miklos Malek (Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Anastacia) are about self-discovery, growth and change, learning to accept - and love yourself. "It's all about my personal journey, using my own life experiences to show how you can choose to rise above negative feelings." KIARA feels her album is: "all about believing in yourself no matter what. It's about taking all the steps, big and small, that will get you where you want to go even though they're always the scariest." That message is perhaps clearest in the song "Caterpillar Eyes" where KIARA states: "...you just gotta hold on to what's in your heart...and let go what you fear could happen." She has a purpose with this CD: to change the world, one listener at a time. You might say KIARA has always been an overachiever. She wrote her first song at the age of three, her first play in third grade, and her first book in seventh grade. When she was 10, she started studying piano and at 12 began voice lessons. A fairy tale-like childhood playing and singing in the sun in Valencia included being part of a troupe of joropo dancers, performing the native Venezuelan dance in regional recitals. With strong memories of a carefree surreal childhood playing amongst the mango trees growing in her front yard where exotic turtles crossed the driveway of her tropical home, KIARA moved to Arizona with her family when she was seven and found herself in a completely different lifestyle. Mastering the English language after just one year and immersing herself totally in her new life, the youngster joined the Phoenix Children's Theater when just barely in her teens. She made the Greater Phoenix and All-State choirs, was a cheerleader in high school and even shouldered the added responsibility of being Music Director of the school production in her senior year when the teacher/director suddenly passed away. "I wanted to honor him and make sure the show embodied his vision and spirit," she says. Even then, this natural born leader understood that the show must go on. But don't be fooled: KIARA is more than just a pretty face. This crowned beauty queen won scholarships to numerous colleges, choosing to attend the University of Miami. Honored with the Arnold Volpe Music Scholarship for her talent and academics, she was the top inducted voice candidate of her freshman class and toured England and the US as a member of the University of Miami Chorale, performing at New York's famed Avery Fisher Hall. KIARA won the title of fourth runner up in the Miss University of Miami beauty pageant, a "feeder" contest to Miss Florida, and consequently the Miss America pageant. Furthermore, the other contestants voted her Miss Congeniality. Daring and a true believer in facing her fears, KIARA moved to New York to dive head first in the deep end of performance arts where she transformed from a girl who used her long, prized curly hair as a veil between herself and the world, into a bold young woman who chopped those tresses off into a short pixie hairstyle, exposing her enviable cheekbones and her inner self in the process. "I had changed on the inside. I wanted there to be a change on the outside too. I didn't want a buffer between my audience and me at all." One of her teachers remarked: "KIARA has a habit of gravitating towards uncomfortable situations in order to discover new things about herself and about life. I think her essence is that she is wise enough to be thrilled about living." Once in The Big Apple, KIARA hit the ground running and soon had the songwriting community abuzz. It wasn't long before the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame organization presented her with the 2005 Abe Olman Scholarship for Excellence in Songwriting, a highly coveted award that brings with it recognition and helped brand her as an artist to watch. KIARA's persona is a combination of various distinct cultures. Neither solely a Spanish artista nor an American pop star, KIARA melds all her influences. Drawing some inspiration from her Italian grandmother, whom KIARA says "had a heart cut with the same cookie cutter as mine." KIARA finds meaning in seemingly ordinary things and infuses her music with a spirit of celebration, just as her grandma did as a young cabaret-performer. Describing her own sound as a combination of Sarah McLachlan, Kelly Clarkson and Faith Hill, KIARA lists among her musical influences Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, James Taylor, Wilson Phillips and Carole King, and Latin singers Laura Pausini, Simon Diaz and Gloria Estefan. But her beautiful singing voice, serious writing skills, genuine talent and passionate heart makes her stand out as a luminous new artist with a dazzling future. Reflecting on the meaning of her name, KIARA says, "In my life, I want to look for the light, to be the light. There is enough darkness inside of us and in the world. I'm just turning on the light in my own heart and it comes through in my music. It makes my heart beat faster. It's what I live for." "I had no real idea what to expect from her debut record but what I got I fell in love with as I think a lot of people will. It doesn't surprise me that she used the same producer that Celine Dion has used, but don't let that throw you she doesn't really sound like Dion, but rather more of a modern country mixed with pop sound ala Faith Hill, Leann Rimes, etc...Duran has the ability to cross over genres from country to pop and be very successful at both the way Shania Twain is. I expect to hear big things in the future if this is any indication of where it may be heading. This is an artist whose music is more geared towards the adult crowd rather then teen crowd and that's okay by me. This is a solid record." (JK) -All Ages Zine, Chicago Based Music Magazine.