Published on March 6, 2013 by Casey
Alida Kinnie Starr Pierre (born 1970) is a Canadian singer-songwriter from Calgary, Alberta. Her music, which blends hip hop and alternative rock, has been described as “hip hop aggro groove”. Her songs have been included on the soundtracks for the TV series The L Word and the movie Thirteen. She was nominated for the Juno Award for New Artist of the Year in 2004.
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Starr is vocal about her Aboriginal heritage (her father, Michael Starr, is mixed-blood Mohawk) both in her music and her life. In 2006 she mentored aspiring Aboriginal musicians at the Manitoba Audio Recording Industry Association’s Aboriginal Music Program (AMP) Camp. Starr has also been open about her bisexuality, making her popular in the queer community.
Starr attended Western Canada High School and Queen’s University. After finishing school, she moved to Vancouver to pursue her music career. In 1992 she formed her first band there, but it was a trip to New York City that revealed the true extent of her talent, when a friend pushed her onstage at an East Village club’s open-mic night. Her impromptu spoken-word poetry received three encores from the enthusiastic crowd.
Following a self-released demo called Learning 2 Cook in 1995, she released her debut album Tidy in 1996, mixing rock, punk, pop, and hip-hop, along with her trademark spoken-word poetry. On that album, she rapped in three languages: English, Spanish, and French.
Starr signed to major label group Island/Def Jam in 1997. The following year, Seagram bought Polygram, the parent company of Island Def Jam, and merged it into Universal Music Group. In the resulting upheaval, Starr felt she was lost in the shuffle and she asked to be released from her contract. The material she recorded for her first album with Island Def Jam, 1998′s Mending was never released, though some record labels have talked of releasing the lost album.
Cirque du Soleil had pursued Starr to sing in their productions, and in 2003 she contracted with them to perform in Zumanity for two years. After releasing her 2003 album Sun Again, she moved to Las Vegas. However, she was back home in Canada by the following year.
In 1997, Starr appeared on the Lilith Fair tour. In the late ’90s and in 2004, she toured Canada with Veda Hille and Oh Susanna as part of the “Scrappy Bitch Tour”.
In 2001, she played Reggie in Down and Out with the Dolls, a Kurt Voss movie about a fictional all-girl rock band.
Starr creates the visual artwork that appears on her album covers and liner notes.
Starr has enlisted other Canadian musicians to appear on her albums over the years, including Swollen Members’ Moka Only, Coco Love Alcorn, former Dream Warrior Spek and Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara. Nelly Furtado credits Starr as an influence. Starr also produced the album We Are… by Digging Roots, which won the Juno Award for Aboriginal Recording of the Year at the Juno Awards of 2010.
Starr appeared as a guest on The Rachel Maddow Show on August 11, 2006. On August 31, her single “Anything” was the first-ever #1 single on CBC Radio 3′s new countdown show The R3-30.