elsa kennedy is not to be taken lightly.
and frankly, the twenty-four year old singer-songwriter from Cincinnati, ohio, doesn’t want to be. upon first meeting, elsa is buoyant, quick to smile and indiscriminately welcoming; when onstage, she leans into an inherently charming, humble intimacy, interacting with large crowds as if she is speaking to old friends. all of this juxtaposes the striking seriousness of her songwriting, which she pairs with haunting vocals, and virtuosic instrumentation. elsa’s music leave’s no emotion untraversed, no personal struggle or triumph undocumented, and no lyric without intention.
and it’s also just really, really good.
When she was nineteen, Elsa moved back to edgewood, kentucky, with a suitcase full of songs, a baritone ukulele, and an unquiet mind. she was someone who’d always been able to blossom wherever she was, though life had always been too dark, too soon; she was a natural master at flocking to light. as a teenager, this pulled her across the United states, in a ragged, nationwide search; eventually, she found the journey angled inward, and she headed back to the midwest. upon this change of direction, her music grew and grew, until it was too big to keep to herself.
in 2016, she released a full-length album dubbed ‘atrial fibs’, that she’d recorded live over 16 hours (subcat studios, new york), as a kind of musical testament to the darkness she’d spent so many years evading. shortly after releasing her album, she began attending the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music (CCM). She ended up spending only a year there; during that time, her sound matured into something magnificent: focused, piercing, boundary-breaking, and lyrically stunning. it was also at ccm that she met ric Hordinski, an internationally known musician and owner of the monastery studio (http://monasterystudio.com/), who would eventually become her producer and guitarist.
After leaving CCM, Elsa began recording a few of her songs at the Monastery; Over the next 18 months, the recordings turned into an EP, and the EP turned into a full record. Renowned musicians came and recorded featured performances on Elsa’s songs: exceptional bass lines by Byron House and Viktor Krauss; J.S. Bach-esque cello parts, played by Ted Nelson of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; the percussive genius of Joshua Seurkamp, along with intricate electric, acoustic and 12-string guitar parts, by Ric Hordinski himself. And in the middle of it all, there was Elsa, singing, playing, making the music, into what is now her explosive, yet-to-be-named, debut record.
the record is currently awaiting a release date. In the meantime, you can find Elsa playing live shows around the Cincinnati area, collaborating with other artists and organizations, tirelessly building her career, and constantly composing.
by r.w., © 2018, cinti, oh
‘—— it’s so simple to disregard the way we suffer for the idea
that somewhere far away, we would
be cherished. ——’
- elsa kennedy, ‘mt. vesuvius’
eyes in tandem with the monsoons in my mind
elsa kennedy, ‘INFJ’.