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Valley Christian Alumna Kenna on Verge of Debut Single, Album

By Loren Kopff

For three years at Valley Christian High School, Kenna was primarily known for being a varsity member of the girls basketball team. But she also had another talent that she has used to her benefit and now it’s paying big dividends.

Kenna is set to debut her first self-titled album, “Kenna”, later this year. But her first single, “Do You Love Me”, is slated to be released in late May or early June. All of this is coming less than a year since Kenna graduated from V.C.

“I’ve always loved music; music has been a big part of my life since I was young,” Kenna said. “I’ve been singing for a very long time, since I can remember. I started vocal lessons my sophomore year and that’s when I met Tim.”

She is referring to Tim Carter, who is basically a jack of all trades in Kenna’s new up and coming career. He is, among other things, her vocal coach, producer and manager. When Kenna was a junior and while she was taking vocal lessons from Carter, he asked what she was going to do. At the time, Kenna didn’t know what her plans were but decided to pursue a music project.

Kenna, who had played basketball since the age of five, began her interest in music at the same time. But her life began to go in many directions shortly after graduating from Valley Christian Middle School. That’s when she transferred to the Renaissance Performing Arts School in Long Beach where she stayed less than a month because her father, who began having brain aneurysms while she was in middle school, passed away. It was at that point that Kenna transferred back to V.C. to be closer to her older sister, Vanna. She also wanted that Christian foundation that V.C. offered.

Kenna was also going through a rebellious stage in her early teen years because of the trials she was facing at home. Before her father passed away, her parents were going through a separation and she wasn’t taking it well. Kenna began to realize that she wasn’t the only person in the world who goes through life challenges and knew she had to change her attitude.

Kenna said that basketball was a big outlet where she was able to let out her frustration and leave it all out on the court.

She used some of that aggression on the basketball court where she played as a freshman and sophomore under head coach Katie Hardeman. The Lady Crusaders advanced to the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division IV-A semifinals her freshman season. The next season, she was one of nine players on a team that featured seven seniors, including Vanna.

Music was also a big outlet where she learned that she could impact and affect people through songs. All of her heart and emotion went into music and because of what she had been through, Kenna is very passionate about everything she does.

As a sophomore, Kenna did a specialty number at V.C.’s famous yearly Broadway Showcase event. The kicker to that is specialty numbers are not normally performed by underclassmen. She said that she was inspired to pursue a singing career after performing in Broadway Showcase.

Kenna stepped aside from basketball her junior year to focus on music and see if it was something she really wanted to pursue as a career. She came back to basketball for her senior season and helped the Lady Crusaders, coached by Ally Wade, reach the playoffs for the first time since her freshman season.

“As the years went by, I learned how to express myself through music,” Kenna said. “Honestly, it was my outlet. When I started doing music in my sophomore year, I started doing way more than what it was during my freshman year. Freshman year it was just a hobby. Sophomore year I was very involved in music.”

What many did not know about Kenna during her earlier days at V.C. was she was in the beginning stages of where she is today. As a freshman, Kenna went to a Coffee Bean for an open mic night event. She asked the manager how can she could get involved and was told she needed to give the manager a CD. Intimidated at first, Kenna went home and recorded some material through her computer before walking back to the establishment and giving the manager her CD. The following week, the manager e-mailed Kenna and asked her to come back with a band in which she found people who could play and formed a band.

At first, Kenna would see Carter on Saturday’s for an hour and that’s when she started loving music even more. Carter began hinting around with Kenna as far as her future and on July 1, 2014, began writing and recording with him.

“What I really loved about Kenna was she reminded me of myself,” Carter said. “She had a great sense of humor. That’s what made me gravitate to her. We would laugh so much during our sessions about the silliest things, and it was just cool. We clicked.”

“When we started here writing in July, I really didn’t know what to expect,” Kenna said. “I’ve never written in this capacity, so it was a little intimidating at first. But as time went by, it got easier and easier.”

In the beginning, Kenna sent Carter a journal of the first song she wrote, which he put together the melody and music. That song, which was a pop song, was titled “This Kind Of Love”. The first song that Kenna and Carter wrote on July 1 was “Take Me Up”. Since July 1 of last year, the two have written about 20 songs. Kenna, who sings pop and rhythm and blues with a blend of reggae and island music, works with Carter work out of a small San Pedro studio four to five days a week for about four to five hours each day.

“I get inspired by lots of people,” Kenna said. “I don’t really have a favorite singer that really inspired me. I think I’m inspired by music in general. I love music that I can feel and music that inspires me to make music.”

Carter, who has been in the music industry for 19 years and a vocal coach for over 20 years, says the icing on the cake for him was the fact that Kenna is Polynesian. In 2000, Carter started a Polynesian record label with two Samoan friends. The three of them, known as Chord Brown, fused pop, R&B and island music together and came up with their own sound. Their album, as he says, blew up and their hit song “Pualena” went big in Hawai’i and New Zealand and is still playing in Australia, France, Japan and Spain.

“What I saw in Kenna was something special,” Carter said. “She had what it took to stand out in this music world as an artist and as a Polynesian artist. She is a star to me and I believe that her dreams as well as mine will be fulfilled. I’m excited about this journey with her.”

Kenna is currently promoting “Do You Love Me” and has been posting several teasers on social media outlets. She is also projecting a CD launch party around August.

“The song “Do You Love Me” is very relatable to many people, girls and guys,” Kenna said.

She added that it was hard to choose a song to be her first single because both she and Carter love all of the songs they have put together.

“But I think it honestly came down to what we wanted the flow of the album to be,” she said. “We just wanted it to have a good flow and have a good vibe.”

Kenna has also been busy outside the studio. On Mar. 21, she had a busy 12-hour photo shoot session at three different locations where over 1,000 shots were taken. She is also preparing for a “Do You Love Me” video.

“With what we have, I trust that we’ll go far with it,” Kenna said. “A lot of people ask me, ‘do you want to be famous’? Honestly, I just want to do music. I want to be successful with music. If I’m famous, [that’s] awesome. But I think, honestly, I just want to be able to make a career out of music and just live my dreams.”

And the feedback that she has been getting has been nothing short of positive. People have been posting on Facebook, constantly asking when the single will come out and telling her that yes, they do love her because of the promoting of “Do You Love Me”.

Carter also added that there’s so much to be done and it’s a ‘me and her’ company. But if “Kenna” takes off as expected, then one day, the Cerritos community will get to see Kenna’s name plastered all over the airwaves and television.

You can follow Kenna on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Kenna, on Twitter @kennamusic and on Instagram @kennamusik.