Kris Allen in Vancouver

On November 8th, I saw Kris Allen at the Vogue Theatre. The last time Kris played Vancouver was back in 2009 for the American Idol Tour at Rogers Arena, just fresh off of his victorious Idol win (oh, the good ol’ days of the spectacular Season 8). Five years later, the indie singer/songwriter returns as the special guest on YouTube sensation Boyce Avenue‘s No Limits Tour, in support of his new album, Horizons. During his 45-minute set, Kris performed tracks from his last three albums along with popular pop song covers, including Out Alive / Young Love (Paul Simon), Better With You, Beautiful and Wild, Chandelier (Sia) / Stay With Me (Sam Smith), Monster / Rude (MAGIC!), Everybody Just Wants To Dance / I Want You Back (Jackson 5), and Live Like We’re Dying. For a taste of his show, check out my video snippets of his performances on YouTube, along with his drop-dead stunning mash-up of Chandelier and Stay With Me. Prepare to be amazed by Mr. Allen’s infectious energy and incredible voice (and to feel compelled to catch him live as soon as humanly possible).

Right after Boyce Avenue’s awesome set, I joined a small group of VIP guests and World Vision (an organization Kris is heavily involved with) sponsors for a green room meet and greet. Kris was an excellent host, warmly greeting each and every person like you would an old friend, treating us to a beautiful acoustic performance of “In Time”, and answering some burning questions during a Q&A session. Then came time for the autograph/photo/chitchat portion of the meet and greet experience, and he happily fulfilled his fans’ requests, from autographing CDs and shirts and to taking fun selfies. Kris is just as friendly, charming, and kind as you’d imagine him to be, which was the cherry on top of an already amazing concert experience.

I also had the pleasure of seeing and meeting Curtis Peoples, who is the opening act of the No Limits Tour. I was introduced to his music years ago through his association with one of my favourite artists, Tyler Hilton, and have always dug his work. To kick off the night, he performed songs from his new album, The Fight, and did a killer cover of *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye”. It’s safe to say that I’ll definitely be catching another show from Curtis whenever he returns to Vancouver!

Download Kris Allen’s Horizons and Curtis Peoples’ The Fight on iTunes. Catch the Boyce Avenue No Limits Tour during their remaining stops in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida (see dates here). Get Kris Allen VIP upgrades on Kris Allen Official.

Interview with Gracepoint’s Alisen Down

Award-winning Canadian actress Alisen Down stars the new crime drama television series, Gracepoint (an adaptation of the hit British series, Broadchurch) as Kathy Eaton, the Editor of the Gracepoint Journal. The story centers around the murder of a twelve-year old boy in a small seaside town in California, and the mystery behind the homicide places everyone in Gracepoint under the spotlight as potential suspects. As the voice of the town, Kathy is in the middle of the media frenzy and must balance her compassion with her journalistic integrity in her search for the truth.

In an exclusive interview with The Hudsucker, Alisen spills the scoop on her acting background, her audition for Kathy, and what viewers should anticipate during the inaugural season of Gracepoint.

Continue reading on The Hudsucker

Carrie Underwood’s “Something In The Water”

Carrie Underwood‘s “Something in the Water” is the first single off of her upcoming compilation album, Greatest Hits: Decade #1, in commemoration of the Country star’s 10 tremendous years in the music industry. This co-written track is a deeply spiritual gospel-country-power pop ballad-esque song about being rescued by a higher power and being redeemed through the strength, joy, and light found through faith. Carrie has always been expressive about her religious beliefs in God, but the song is for anyone who understands the feeling of running out of hope and barely being able to hold onto the end of the rope, only to have a life-changing experience by believing in something bigger than and beyond themselves. “Something in the Water” ends with a powerful closing chorus that incorporates the hymn, “Amazing Grace”, driving home the transformative, uplifting, and inspiring nature of the song.

“Gonna look ahead, no turning back. Live every day, give it all that I have.”

Download “Something in the Water” (from Greatest Hits: Decade #1, due December 9th) NOW on iTunes.

Elton John in Vancouver

A1

On September 13th and 14th, Vancouver embraced music royalty as Sir Elton John brought his Follow The Yellow Brick Road Tour (in honour of the 40th anniversary of his iconic record) to the Canadian west coast. I went to the second of his two sold-out shows at Rogers Arena. The legendary singer/songwriter/piano man played all of his greatest hits from across the four decades of his career, including favourites like “Bennie and the Jets“, “Candle in the Wind”, “Tiny Dancer“, “Philadelphia Freedom”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, “Rocket Man”, “Your Song”, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”, and “Crocodile Rock” and “Circle Of Life / Can You Feel The Love Tonight” (and that’s just half of the hits!). It was a spectacular night of song led by a sparkling supernova of a performer.

Photography and videos by yours truly.

Life Lessons Learned From… August.

August kicked my ass.

The entire month was ridden with death, suffering, anxiety, and pretty much every terrible situation and miserable sensation imaginable. Between saying goodbye to someone who I really cared about and watching the one person who means the most to me face even more health challenges, my heart was broken and my spirit was shattered. The news stories this month were just as depressing, what with racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri and the death of actor Robin Williams. In these trying times, my faith in life was put to the ultimate test. I wondered, why should I have hope for a world, let alone trust in a higher power, when good, innocent souls, including the people I love, are put through the ringer of pain, or are taken away forever? How am I expected to hold on while being ambushed with awfulness all around? What is it about life that makes the sadness, the anger, worth it?

People.

I was saved by people. If it wasn’t for my support system, I would have been consumed by my grief and my fears. My friends were there to lend an open ear, impart words of encouragement, provide the smiles and laughs to lighten things up, and offer to do anything they can to help alleviate the situation. When it comes to shared grief, it’s amazing how people who are hurting collectively come together to give each other love and strength, reminding us all that we never have to experience these worst moments alone. The gratitude I feel towards these phenomenal people is overwhelming.

What did I learn from August 2014?

We may not have control over the bad that comes our way in life, but we can control how we go through the dark days. We are strong on our own, but stronger together, and strongest when we take care of each other, stand together, and fight back together, as one.

See you soon, September. I’ll be coming up swinging.

Image by Leon Biss.