The Last Taste of Summer

It’s nearly 75 degrees outside. And sunny. I’ve been dancing around singing…

….”SUNNY WITH A HIGH OF SEVENTY FIVE SINCE YOU TOOK MY HEAVY HEART AND MADE IT LIGHT!”

Which is most appropriate, because Relient K is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of Mhm, AKA the most fantastic item of my Middle School CD collection. I have this wary feeling that today is summer’s last hurrah; one last taste before the cold weather settles in.

Here’s a flashback from the band’s summer days, a beautiful outdoor concert at MUGS Coffee & Tea

It was a beautiful outdoor concert the band and I had the opportunity to play towards the end of summer. The warm, pleasant summer night was a great time to enjoy local music, and locally sourced coffee. We love MUGS!
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Yesterday I had the opportunity to perform my senior recital–something I’ve worked towards for the past year. I focused on a specific era, 1920′s, and presented a concert imitating the style, image, and perceptions of the jazz age. I studied the lovely voices of Marion Harris, Ethel Waters, and Gertrude Lawrence. Here’s a picture of the wonderful jazz trio that accompanied me on Sunday…

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L to R : David Naffie, Isaac Vining, Caleb Scott

So many people came to support me at the recital, and for that I’m forever grateful. It was incredible to see friends who have been alongside me for years, and especially enjoy time with my awesome family. Here’s a picture of my brother and I, post-concert.

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I am so thankful for all the encouragement and training I’ve gotten under my voice professor, Dr. Sowers. He’s been such an inspiration and truly an awesome influence in my life. Here’s another picture of the band in action in York…

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This weekend was awesome. I’ve said “awesome” at least five times in this post(my inner English geek is cringing), so you know it’s real.

Also, to top of the weekend, T-Swift’s 1989 is out. I’m fangirling all over it.

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Just look at it. You can already tell it’s tasty.

Hope you guys have a fantastic week. Love you all.

Falling Into A New Rhythm

A few weeks ago I got to listen to my music on the big screen-literally! Independent filmmakers Jeri and Perry Reichanadter invited me to share some music at the debut of Titans of PS-271, a faith-based movie geared toward a vibrant, young audience. Here’s a picture of Jeri, Perry, and I on the red carpet at the premiere.

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Also, we FINALLY got to hang up a sign at my merch table, check it.

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At the premiere I got to jam with a good friend Connor Whiteside.

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Honestly, we’re just a couple of hams…

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I highly encourage you to get in touch with Jerry and Peri, and buy their movie! It’s quite a charming film.

So, while we’re on the big news train, I am so excited to announce that I’ll be releasing some new music! This compilation was recorded over a year ago at Gaither Studios in Alexandria. Here’s a little glimpse of the album art that’s been surfing around…

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Awesome, right? It not only features the photography of my talented cousin Doug, but also his design. Speaking of movies, the swan reminds me of The Swan Princess, by far the best movie ever to grace the screen.

In a few weeks the band and I will be venturing to the Annual Shoes4theShoeless father/daughter dance fundraiser. We are so excited to hang out at this precious event again! The band definitely missed dressing up and playing some OneDirection, or at least I did. Make sure to double check my event page for more concerts, I would love to see you in person!

Personally, my musical journey has taken leaps and bounds lately. I recently got news that next semester I’ll be a part of the Contemporary Music Center’s spring program in Nashville. Not only will I have one foot in the music industry, but I’ll learn the ropes at touring, songwriting, etc. Also, this weekend is my senior recital–what?! College is almost over!

It’s a humbling experience to watch this ministry move forward, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future. So far, I’m enjoying the ride. I have some really exciting news to release as well, really BIG news at that–but it won’t be shared for a bit. Just keep your minds prepared, while I keep you waiting in the wings!

I would like to leave you with a lovely picture of Hannah Stanford and I, dressed up to sing Renegade (Styx) at 80′s encore this past weekend. Yes, those are leather pants.
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Rest in Chaos

Last night I had a lovely dream: I was doing a complex figure skating routine with Beyoncé while we sang a duet from Frozen. Now I’m not entirely sure if one literally coincides with the other, but I’ve gotten so much sleep lately, that Beyoncé is showing up with my dreams…figure skating and singing Frozen.

I’m not trying to flaunt the fact, but for the final semester of my college career, I’ve had a significant amount of free time. This semester has been the golden snitch of college: evasive, frustrating, and demanding a lot of attention to achieve, but so worth it in the end. Never in my life have I realized how valuable rest and rejuvenation is.

“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”
-Psalm 116:7

Our bodies were built for rest and rejuvenation, as my brother puts it “to wind down for a few hours, rest, and recharge.” But often times, we not only refrain from going through the process of rest, but also forget what it looks like altogether. Rest is an art in of itself: tricking your mind into complete surrender of doubt, worry, and anxiety.

This can be a challenge. This past weekend I began my first oil painting on a larger-then-my-entire-body canvas. After spending the weekend slowly progressing towards a definite finish, my dad urged me to put a halt to my work. He felt that I needed “a month or so” to leave it unfinished, so I could spend some time conjuring up indefinite decisions on the important details.

The reason intricate and beautiful projects take time, is because rest becomes more valuable and essential in the process. The energy needed to plan and prepare takes rest to conjure up, and many hours of sleep. It takes an effort to leave something unfinished, and go to bed peacefully. But perhaps, an awake, productive, and positive mind is more valuable than completing every task that’s presented to us.

So read a book. Or, if you don’t prefer reading, take a walk outside. Don’t let time slip by without cherishing a moment to relax, recharge, and rest.

In memory of my beautiful grandmama

My grandmother passed away this morning.

I’ve been wanting to say a few things, just to give you an idea of how wonderful she was.

She was my constant confidant and best friend.

Last year we did the Wobble together. No really—she asked me what it was and then insisted on me teaching her.

She was the best looking golfer on the course.

Furthermore, she won the award for best dressed grandma..she had a glorious and unmatched sense of fashion:
when skinny jeans, long shirts, and boots came in style she rocked it. She’s the reason I discovered the color orange….and most importantly, cheetah print.

Whatever she cooked was delicious. No one can make matzoh ball soup like my grandmama.

When I was younger, she would fix china, porcelain, and any other doll up for me. She restored dolls and sold them at a flea market, which was a big deal to me, as a little girl.

She was the only other person in my family who kept up with the bachelor and the bachelorette—which is an awfully entertaining topic at the Thanksgiving dinner table!

She knew what planking and owling was before I did.

She had a lovely taste in music, and insisted I sing “Summertime” at every concert she came to.

She always encouraged me to keep singing…and try out for American Idol…which we bonded over until the judges were swapped out.

She introduced me to Singing in the Rain…which we would constantly sing (in the rain, of course).

She kept a lock of my hair I gave her when I was little, because she loved my curls so much. I thought it would somehow help her grow curly hair.

I inherited her sweet tooth.

Sometimes she gave me the most ridiculous gifts in the world. For graduation, she gave me a dancing and singing stuffed chicken.

Speaking of gifts, any necklace or bracelet you’ve seen me wearing was probably a gift from my grandmama.

Did I mention she pulled off skinny jeans?

She believed in my dreams, simply because I dreamt them.

Faith in Humanity

When I was younger I had no problem looking people boldly in the eyes. Stranger or not, I could not dissuade from offering a smile—and sometimes, if you were lucky, even a snarky comment (children have no filter, remember?). In fact, I was so confident in my skills that it was a bit overwhelming.
There’s a beautiful period in life in which one cannot distinguish a stranger from an acquaintance, friend, or a loved one. It’s a brief dream, but all trust in humanity feels comforting. The world has not tarnished or maimed you, but leaves a lovely, refreshing taste on your tongue.
I reached about seven years old, and I was over it. I can clearly remember the exact event in which I lost all faith in strangers.
My parents had taken my brother and I to a local kid’s toyshop: ZainyBrainy. Yes, it was as vibrant, strange, and nerdy as it sounds. It was like the hipster version of Toys-R-Us, complete with a fully equipped learning center, Pokemon gaming tables, and, to my seven-year-old self’s impeccable delight—a fortress of Beanie Babies. I spent many hours of my childhood traversing ZainyBrainy for the perfect Beanie Baby with my kid brother, who was five years old at the time.
Upon walking through the door, I had lost my brother among a vast array of computer screens in the learning center. I assumed he was playing a video game, and went on my way. That’s the bliss of innocence: ignorance.
After picking out the ideal Beanie Baby (which was a long, extensive journey, trust me), I went to flaunt my prize to my brother. I found him playing a sports game on a decorated desktop near the back of the store. I tapped him insistently on the shoulder, saying something to the effect of: “that game suits you well” or “what a nice game!”
Michael turned around…except it wasn’t Michael.
Embarrassed and afraid, I sprinted the length of the store away from the mystery boy that was not my brother. And that was when it hit me: strangers are terrifying.
Needless to say, stranger danger was a pretty easy concept to my young mind. I was a shy kid after my brief shot at being a well-practiced, professional extrovert. I was very bookish—I even had those really wide-rimmed, round, wiry glasses.
Side note: being an introvert does not, by any means, translate to having lost faith in humanity…stick with me here.
Some us are completely stuck in that store, or that street crossing, restaurant, whatever—we’re still afraid to let down our guard and trust in our brothers and sisters.
Nothing should keep us from offering an open heart, translated through a friendly smile or casual wave.
Embarrassment. Grief. Distrust. Anxiety.
We, collectively as humanity, cannot deal with these things on our own.
Once we allow Christ to communicate to us through others, things begin to look a lot less bleak. God has ordained us with a purpose and place to carry out His work. He did not have to bless us with beautiful friends or family—it wasn’t an obligation or some natural right we conjured up…but He did.

“They might not need me; but they might. I’ll let my head be just in sight; a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity.”
-Emily Dickinson

Thirty Seven/Sixty music video release! (Iron Wing Live Episode 6)

So here is the culmination of the work I’ve been doing this summer. Iron Wing Studios is such an awesome place—I was so blessed to get the privilege of recording this video with Brandon Weaver there! To be a part of a series with so many talented musicians was incredible.

Furthermore, the music wouldn’t have been possible without the awesome work of Isaac Vining on drums, Caleb Schoberg on guitar, and Jonathan Class on bass guitar.

In a few weeks, I’ll be releasing the full version of the single on Noisetrade, for free! I recorded the single last year at Gaither Studios with the help of Jonathan Class.

So I hope you enjoy it, because I’ve got lots of music coming out for you soon!

If you check out Cincymusic.com they’re featuring the music video with a full-length interview–it’s pretty cool!

Have a blessed day friends. I appreciate you, so much.

Lately

I feel like now is an appropriate time to bring everyone up to speed on some exciting things happening in the very near future—as well as some past events I’ve neglected to reflect on. Plus, it has been awhile since you’ve gotten the chance to listen to me ramble. I apologize for the scattered thoughts and rabbit trails; sometimes I get a little too excited. Bear with me.

Last month I was asked to record a live video shoot at Iron Wing Studios, a place I always love coming back to. The video is a part of a series Brandon Weaver has been putting up YouTube, “Iron Wing Live”. I was blessed enough to have some fantastically talented friends join me on the project—Isaac Vining, Jon Class, and Caleb Schoberg. Brandon did amazing work on the video—it should be up in the next week! I won’t spoil the entirety of the video for you, but it’s going to be up on cincymusic.com, for starters.

Alright, aside from the dry rambling of poignant events, I also want to take a stab at rambling about my personal life. This summer I really got the opportunity to dive into the worship ministry—working in worship events at a youth camp, a mission’s trip in rural Kentucky, and my home church in Kettering, Ohio. Worship is something that really hasn’t translated into the whole of “Kristen Bennett Music” yet, but the effect of it is starting to creep in.

Also, I’ve been trying to tie-in a Non-Profit aspect to my live show. To explain the gist of that, Alycia Roby and I have been taking time to donate a good portion of what we make each night to Rapha House. Rapha House is out of Joplin, MO and works to fight against human sex trafficking and slavery. If you haven’t heard of the organization already, I would encourage you to check it out. They do some amazing work in partnership with IJM, something Alycia and I really want to support and rally behind. My dream has always been to run a music ministry that donates 100% of its profit to charity. Hopefully this is a step towards that (at least, in my mind it is).

This was quite a short post to be considered “rambling”, but you get the point. Enjoy the last dog days of summer, and hopefully I’ll see you around soon.