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Published on September 11th, 2014 | by Alyssa Barker

“Rising” to the top with old classics: an interview with “Rising Star” winner Jesse Kinch

Getting to know Jesse Kinch on a Saturday afternoon was not originally in my plans for last weekend.

When I got the phone call from the soft-spoken, laid back, genuine 20-year-old last Friday evening, I was completely in shock. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be talking to someone who is getting ready to make their mark on music history.

Jesse Kinch, the Long Island rocker, was recently crowned the inaugural champion on ABC’s “Rising Star”. A singing competition with a twist, viewers vote in real time for contestants, helping them “raise the wall”. This means that the audience has the power to decide who stays and who goes.

“America for real had the choice,” he said.

Jesse’s love and appreciation for rock music began at the age of six, when his parents introduced him to the genre and he picked up his first guitar. By age 11, he was preforming in clubs and hanging out with older musicians who taught him how to become a better performer. Ever since this young age, he has covered several iconic rock songs, from “I Want You (She’s So Heavy) by The Beatles (he plays every instrument in his version of the song), to “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd.

He loves the classic rock era because of the real and generic sound heard in most songs.

Don’t let that soft voice fool you. Jesse’s voice is intense; a dimension of sound from another place and time, when rock and roll was all the rage.

The casting directors of “Rising Star” discovered Jesse via his YouTube channel. In April, they approached him for the show.

“At first I thought, ‘not another singing show’,” he said. “But then I found out this is a new concept, a brand new show.”

Jesse had been approached by other singing shows prior to “Rising Star”. What truly attracted him to this show was the ability he was given to be himself.

Songs he sang on the show included “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes and “Whipping Post” by the Allman Brothers.

With these song choices, Jesse’s goal during the show was to bring rock music back into the spotlight. He did just that, and also gained a broader fan base, one of his biggest hopes.

Prior to the show, Jesse’s fan base consisted of mainly 30-65 year olds, considering that was their type of music. I’m 20, and I’m almost positive that half of my generation is too hung-up on One Direction to even try and find the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival  or Nirvana. However, after Jesse’s time on “Rising Star”, a younger generation found an appreciation for classic rock through his music. They would go on YouTube, watch the songs he sang on the show and find out the original artist. Jesse gave, and is still giving, new life to old songs.

The show did feature four music experts: Josh Groban, Kesha, Ludacris and Brad Paisley. As far as favorites go, Jesse didn’t seem to have any.

So, he’s just won “Rising Star” and received a recording contract with Capitol Records, what’s he going to do next?

Jesse is currently at home on Long Island, recuperating and getting ready to start his new album.

“I’m just winding down from performing every week and working all the time,” he said.

For his album, Jesse is determined to stay true to who he is as a rock musician.

Now and for generations to come, Jesse would like to be known as a representative of rock and roll music.

“I felt that me going on the show, I was going on as a representative of my style and that’s how I felt,” Jesse said. “Rock and roll is what I really embraced.”

The genre of rock music has brought us great singers with distinct sounds. There’s Jimi Hendrix, Jack White and Eddie Vedder. Now, there’s Jesse Kinch.

 

This is a video of his first performance on the show, “I Put A Spell On You”, originally made famous by Screaming Jay Hawkins.

 

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journalist, traveler, runner, concert enthusiast, broke college student.



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