Back in April when I first came up with the idea to do a series of articles on Women in Entertainment, I never realized how diverse or long that list would be. I thought this would be about a two-month series, but the more articles I wrote, the more inspirational women I discovered and my list of confirmed future articles now stretches through Thanksgiving, with enough unconfirmed to stretch into next year. This week’s spotlight shines on Christiane Kinney, fiery redhead, pianist, singer-songwriter, band member, wife and mother, humanitarian and attorney.
I first became aware of Kinney when I was a writer at Music Connection Magazine. At the time, not only was she the lead singer of the dynamic and unique Los Angeles band Riddle the Sphinx, she was also an incredible singer-songwriter as well as a Celtic music performer. As I came to know more about her, I discovered that she and her sister ran a non-profit foundation called HeARTS Giving Hope, an amazing charity that works with at-risk youth in foster homes and inner-city areas, to help kids find positive outlets of self-expression through music and visual arts.
Originally from Orange County, California, Kinney has been described as a captivating alternative folk artist whose “stock is sky high” (Music Connection Magazine). With her “fluid, soulful voice” (All Access Magazine) and “sensual piano artistry” (LA Music Scene), she weaves compelling songs that are both “beautiful and poignant” (Celtic Folk Podcast).
She has been a musician for as long as she can remember, begging to take piano lessons at the tender age of three, while her legs were still too short to reach the pedals. She continued to study music through college, graduating with a degree in piano performance from UC Irvine. Since that time, Kinney has developed into an international award-winning singer/songwriter, receiving recognition from the Billboard World Songwriting Contest, the International Songwriting Competition, the Global Music Awards, the International Carnival Song Contest and the LA Music Critic Awards, among others. Her music has been featured in multiple feature films and she also composes original music for various film, TV and new media projects.
A perennial inclusion in Music Connection Magazine’s annual “Hot 100 Unsigned Artists” list, Kinney has developed a dedicated fan base, with currently more than 17,000 followers on Twitter alone, has performed in numerous venues worldwide, ranging from piano bars in Amsterdam to smokey clubs on the Sunset Strip to sold out shows at the illustrious Walt Disney Concert Hall and more. Her band, Riddle the Sphinx, has been touted “one of the most unique bands in Los Angeles,” and “the band to see in LA” (NoHo Arts District, Music Column). Kinney is currently writing a new album based on family stories passed down from earlier generations, and she is playing keyboard with the all-girl rock band The Suffragettes.
What inspires Kinney? “I am inspired by art, and I look for it in everything, from the cream in my husband’s coffee cup to the rhythm of the tree leaves blowing in the breeze. I love to close my eyes and be moved by something. Art – and all that encompasses that word, from music to visual arts to dance, so many different facets of it – it’s all a living, breathing thing with its own soul, and I revel in really experiencing that. I see my kids’ drawings and I’m just amazed at where their ideas come from; what inspires my six-year old daughter to draw eyes in that way? What inspires my eight-year old son to create comic books? I believe everyone is a vessel for creativity, and there is a real beauty in examining the world in that way.”
When she’s not performing, writing, rehearsing or otherwise conquering the world, Kinney is a partner at LeClairRyan and chair of the firm’s Entertainment Industry Team. Kinney represents a wide range of clients, from major artists and Fortune 500 companies to Presidential candidates and music tech start-ups. Her personal experience as both a recording artist and an entertainment attorney provide a unique perspective to the deal-making process. Kinney also has significant litigation experience in federal and state court, and has handled a wide array of intellectual property, business and tort litigation matters.
Since 2011, Kinney has worked with LexisNexis® as an Author for Lexis® Practice Advisor on Entertainment Transactions. Kinney also frequently speaks on entertainment law panels and radio talk shows. As a strong supporter of education for independent artists, Kinney also writes legal columns for CD Baby’s DIY Musician blog. As the largest online distributor of independent music, CD Baby recognized Kinney as #1 out of their list of the Top 10 Music Law Resources to follow on Twitter, noting that “her in-the-thick-of-it perspectives carry a lot of weight.” Kinney has also been recognized by Super Lawyers magazine, and has been featured in Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year issue for her charity work in bringing music and art programs to at-risk youth.
What are Kinney’s future plans? “I have various projects right now that are part of my present and future plans. As an artist, I’m playing in two bands right now –my alt-rock trio Riddle the Sphinx, and an all-girl rock band called The Suffragettes. Both of these are immense fun, and I really enjoy being the attorney who still lugs around her keyboard and amp on the weekends to play shows. My passion as an artist has always included giving back to my artist community. I practice music law, and I love to represent up and coming independent artists before they hit it big, to help make sure they are protecting themselves from the start of their careers. I’ve been writing my first novel, which I’m very excited about. And of course, I’m raising two amazing children. I occasionally sleep somewhere in there too!”
For more information about this amazing artist, check out her Facebook pages (Riddle the Sphinx, solo performer and HeARTS Giving Hope), follow her on Twitter and subscribe to her YouTube channel.