© 2017 by KRISTINA SHELDEN

Photography by Maya Pankalla

BIOGRAPHY

Kristina Shelden is a remarkably gifted singer-songwriter and performer of Aboriginal descent based out of Vancouver. Kristina’s voice is packed with depth, power and vulnerability. She embodies a unique control over her voice and gracefully carries it from soft and delicate to an avalanche of sound. She seamlessly weaves through indie, pop, jazz, and soulful music.
 
Her background in music is extensive. Kristina began performing at a young age in musicals and jazz ensembles. She discovered at a young age that music is her trajectory. She studied general music at university for a brief period which came to a pause due to serious health reasons. Kristina suffered from a C4/C5 spinal injury that threatened to end her music career. This landed her in the hospital and caused nerve damage that made it almost impossible to play music. She managed to work through the injury by way of determination and hard work. Kristina is writing music and performing again. She taught herself the ukulele and learned she could partially play the piano, so was again able to write songs. She has learned to refine them and turn them into pieces of art.  She has also joined the esteemed board of directors for the Vancouver Adapted Music Society. Her commitment and motivation runs deep and pulses through her passionate music. 
 
Kristina’s music reflects her struggle and celebrates her. Her upcoming album explores the emotional journey through love and loss. The full-length record showcases her ferocious and multifaceted talent. She shares this experience through the lens of being a female Dene First Nations artist living with a disability.  She isn’t only living, she is thriving and her music is a vehicle that drives her ferocious spirit. 
For bookings and inquiries, please contact Kristina at kristinasheldenmusic@gmail.com or through the websites contact form.

If anyone's curious about the long version, and my journey through music, I've written it out below.

I've been singing since I was this little girl watching the Little Mermaid and realizing how incredibly good it felt to sing. I thought Ariel was the bomb. This love developed and grew as I did. In my childhood years I joined choirs, took rolls in musicals, developed my voice through lessons, sang in jazz bands, and pretty much did every vocal thing I could possibly convince my Dad to let me do. The hard part was getting me to shut up.

In high school I picked up the guitar and instantly fell in love with song writing. I couldn't believe the natural high I got every time I wrote something. Creating something new and unique, these full and beautiful songs, developing lyrics and melodies and harmonies... I couldn't get enough of it. It became my therapy. My drug of choice. The love of my life.

Soon I was part-taking in open mic nights and applying to study music in college. Despite being told a practical profession was the way to go, I fought hard for what I wanted and paid my own way through a year of Basic Musicianship at Douglas college with the intention of applying to the Capilano Jazz Program. I was on a major musical upswing, busking regularly, joining open mic nights, and performing shows.

Unfortunately fate had other plans. In the summer of 2008, instead of enrolling in jazzy classes, I found myself in the hospital with a broken neck and an immobile body.

I won't get into the details here, but suffice it to say I thought my career in music was over. After 5 weeks in Vancouver General Hospital and another 7 in the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, I miraculously recovered to the point where I was walking again, albeit with a funny limp and a tendency to plummet to the ground where I payed humble homage to the floor gods.

The biggest problem, however, was that there was so much nerve damage left in my left hand, that I could no longer play my guitar. I could no longer write music. I was crushed beyond imagining. The thing I had always used to work through my feelings and get emotional relief had suddenly become the one thing that hurt me most. I grieved over a lot of losses after acquiring my disability. Arguably, this was the worst. It took me years to get over that hurt.

But, music wasn't about to give up on me. I thought it had left me, but it really never did. It was just waiting for me to allow it back in. And come back in it did! I couldn't stop singing, even though it hurt at first, and through the Vancouver Adapted Music Society I was given ways to perform, even though I couldn't play my own accompaniment anymore.

Fast-forward to now: I've been teaching myself the Ukulele, an easier instrument to play with my numby little fingers, I plink and plunk away on the piano, and have even been allowing myself to hold my guitar again and try playing - which, to my amazement (and with the knowledge that I may never be concert-ready), doesn't sound as much like a dying cat. Most importantly: I've been writing music again, and I can't tell you how much that soothes my soul.

I've also been introduced to some incredible artists and been afforded the opportunity to work with the likes of Chin Injeti, The Roots, and other phenomenal artists though the Vancouver Adapted Music Society, I've performed a plethora of shows now, venues ranging from The Roundhouse to Venue, to the Railway and more. Amazingly, my musical career has spun back off in the most unexpected but beautiful way.

I freaking love it.

Phew! Wow, that was a lot! If you read through all that, I give you kudos! I may be a bit verbally unstoppable. And this was me restraining myself!

 

I hope to see you soon at one of my upcoming shows. And I hope you enjoy my music as much as I have always loved -  and still love more than anything else - writing and performing it.

All the best,

Kristina Shelden.