Since her single-take, ’90s-resplendent video for “Hideaway” became a viral sensation last summer, Kiesza has rapidly become an in-demand singer-songwriter that’s penned hits for herself (“Giant In My Heart,” “No Enemiesz”) and others (Jack Ü’s “Take U There,” Gorgon City’s “Go All Night.”)
But her latest single, “Stronger,” represents a different kind of project: the soaring, tribal-beat ballad is the lead single for Finding Neverland: The Album, a companion project to the Broadway musical inspired by the film of the same name. The album is out June 9 via Republic Records and became available for pre-order on Tuesday (May 12). The set also features original recordings featuring Ellie Goulding, Christina Aguilera, Jon Bon Jovi, Jennifer Lopez & Trey Songz and Rita Ora featuring Sage The Gemini, among others, each lending fresh takes on tracks from and written for the musical.
Penned by Gary Barlow (Take That) and Eliot Kennedy (Spice Girls, Bryan Adams), “Stronger” is performed in the musical version by lead actor Matthew Morrison. But after applying it to her own life — which has seen forays as a ballerina, a code breaker for the Royal Canadian Navy, and, briefly, a lead singer in a death-metal band — Kiesza found her own connection to the song.
“It was really empowering,” Kiesza says. “I related to it myself just because it took a lot of inner strength to make it in this industry, and it continues to be that way. I’ve been in those situations where I felt like maybe I hit a dead end, and it was all up to finding an inner strength within myself to take another step forward.”
Kiesza discussed the making of the track further in a behind-the-scenes studio clip, which also debuted Tuesday on Republic Records’ official YouTube page.
Kiesza was one of more than a dozen artists recruited by Barlow and Finding Neverland producer Harvey Weinstein, who set out to make the most ambitious pop album to accompany a Broadway musical since Elton John and Tim Rice’s all-star Aida compilation in 1999.
“I love any excuse to make a record, when you add these amazing names to it it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done,” says Barlow, who’s best known as the frontman for UK vocal group Take That. “I wouldn’t say it’s been easy, but its been an incredible experience. When you find an artist who loves the song, and then the song gets delivered it’s just the most incredible feeling. We gave artists the creative freedom to make it their own record, no guideposts or stipulations. Everyone’s expressed themselves through this music.”
Up next is a freshly shot, effects-heavy video for “Stronger,” which Kiesza says was an opposite experience from the making of “Hideaway,” which took four days of rehearsals but was essentially wrapped as soon as it was finished. “It’s all on green screen, and I’m definitely doing some abstract movements in it,” she says.
“The whole process is gonna take a month and a half I think, and it’s in the hands now of the people creating it. It’ll be as much of a surprise to me as it is to everyone else.”