Krisalyn Bell’s Girl Pow-R Nominated
For Children’s Album of the Year
Story by Michael Seguin
Photography by John Liviero
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argued that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to master any craft.
Krisalyn Bellavance, however, the 14 year old St. Joseph’s Catholic High School student nominated for a Juno Award, may have turned that theory on its head.
Krisalyn (who performs under the stage name Krisalyn Bell) is one of Windsor’s youngest, most powerful voices. She first began singing near Cedar Point, when she was 8 years old. “I went to this place called Castaway Bay,” Krisalyn explains. “It was a kid’s karaoke night. I sang ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen. Everyone said, ‘Oh my God, you’re amazing!’ I had no idea I could sing.”
From there, Krisalyn began strengthening her voice, taking vocal lessons with Kathy Casta. “We wouldn’t be at this stage of it all without her,” Krisalyn’s mother Kandice states. “They’ve become a great team together. She’s someone Krisalyn confides in. Kathy knows what she’s capable of and brings her vocals there with encouragement.”
By the time Krisalyn was 10 years old, she was already performing at competitions. “The first competition I did was in Belle River, at Sunsplash,” Krisalyn recalls. “I sang the Cup Song, and ended up getting third place.”
However, Krisalyn’s rise to stardom has not been completely without hurdles. “I had one summer where I performed at competitions and didn’t place at all,” Krisalyn states. “After that, I felt like I couldn’t sing. I went through a lot of tears.”
However, Krisalyn began rising through the ranks after heading east and competing at various different venues in Toronto. “I placed in the top 12 at Hidden Talent Canada that year,” Krisalyn states. “I did a lot of other competitions after that.”
Since then, Krisalyn has been soaring higher and higher. Krisalyn even won the Junior Grand Champion title at the Ontario-wide Western Fair circuit in 2017.
And, all the while, her parents Kandice and Roger have been continually amazed by her daughter’s success. “We’re very proud of her,” Kandice states. “Every time she goes up on stage, I still get chills. She’s very humble. She doesn’t tell anyone that she sings. It’s really sweet seeing her up there, being so confident. She’s been up on stage over 100 times now.”
While Krisalyn’s parents are not musically inclined themselves, Kandice’s side, the LaButes, are a deceptively musically inclined family. “Roger and I aren’t musical people,” Kandice states. “We can’t sing, other than in the car. But, my family is. My great-grandmother used to sing all over the States and Canada in French and English. She sang for the Prime Minister back in the day and at Abars. One of my Dad’s cousins, Karen Marrero, was on Star Search and did a European tour with her band. She’s from Windsor, too. She said that she couldn’t sing the way Krisalyn does at that age. She’s super supportive.”
However, Krialyn’s most significant accomplishment was joining Girl Pow-R, a pop-rock band consisting of young girls aged 11 to 17. The group writes and sings their own original music, supplementing their performances with cover songs, instruments and dance. The group lives by a unique mission to inspire young people and to show support for social causes with their music and positive messages.
Since joining Girl Pow-R in 2017, Krisalyn has become one of group’s key members. Girl Pow-R has performed hundreds of times the past couple years, touring throughout Ontario and the United States. Their single “Never Let It Go” has accumulated more than 700,000 listens across all social media platforms. The group was also nominated the Best New Group at the Niagara Music Awards in 2017.
“I’m trying to keep up with Girl Pow-R, plus my own solo career,” Krisalyn states. “I write my own music, do my own shows, sing at my own concerts.”
“At one point, we were going to Toronto three times a week for rehearsals,” Kandice explains. “I’d work six to two in the nursing home, pick the kids up at school, go to Toronto and have rehearsals until 9. I’d sleep for an hour on the 401 rest stop and then go back to work the next day. And then we’d have shows on the weekend. It’s a lot for her. And she even helped write the Girl Pow-R album.”
As part of International Women’s Day, Girl Pow-R launched their first album, This is Us. “The album is about empowering women,” Kandice states. “About staying true to who you are and who you want to be. It’s music for Krisalyn’s age group with a positive message. It’s very fun and pop-rocky.”
This is Us has been nominated for Children’s Album of the Year at the 2020 Juno Awards. “It’s honestly crazy,” Krisalyn states. “I never thought anything like this would happen. Ever. When my manager told me This is Us was nominated for a Juno Award, I was excited. But when we went to the press conference and our name came up on screen, we all started screaming.”
The Junos are being held in Saskatoon at the SaskTel Centre on March 15th, 2020. The ceremonies will be hosted by Alessia Cara, one of Krisalyn’s heroes. “She’s one of my idols,” Krisalyn states. “She hugged me after I was nominated. I had written her a message in 2016 saying that I hoped I got to meet her one day. Later, I sent her the photo of us actually happening. It was crazy!”
However, Juno or no Juno, being nominated at such a young age isn’t just a tremendous accomplishment: it’s a historic one. “This is the first year that children and youth have been nominated at the Junos,” Kandice states. “If they win, they’ll be making history. They’ll be the youngest Juno winners in history.”
Older musicians are in continually in awe of Krisalyn’s controlled vocals and tone. “She does some rock songs, like Queen and Michael Jackson,” Kandice states. “People are always shocked by that. Hearing those songs coming from a little person. She also works alongside Windsor’s talented hip-hop community.”
“They are fantastic to her and super supportive,” Roger reports. “They say she has powerhouse vocals.”
Krisalyn almost always sings for charity, working with organizations such as StreetHelp. She is an advocate for youth homelessness and poverty. And aside from the Junos, Krisalyn has also auditioned for The Voice in Chicago, receiving a red card to be chosen to audition the next day at their private studio.
Krisalyn also maintains a large social media following. Her Instagram account has currently amassed 12,000 followers.
However, Krisalyn has never let her success go to her head. “She’s the first person to step back and let someone else shine,” Kandice explains. “During performances, she’ll step back and let someone else take the spotlight. That’s why people love her so much. Because she doesn’t have to be out there in the spotlight, she’s always cheering everyone else on. She’s so supportive.”
Regardless of the glitz and glamour she’s attained, Krisalyn remains devoted to her one true calling: the music itself. “It’s amazing, going up on stage,” Krisalyn states. “I love that other girls and boys can look up to me. I love that people enjoy our music. When I’m up on stage, hearing people cheering and clapping? It makes me so happy.”
Follow Krisalyn at @krisalynbell on all social media platforms.