Krystle Dos Santos walked to the main stage of Surrey Arts Centre, set up some gear and later performed songs from her recent album, along with some choice covers. It was pretty much like any other gig for the New Westminster-based musician, expect there were no audience members seated in the theatre.
Her “unplugged” performance, with Gavin Youngash on guitar, was recorded last week for the latest “Digital Stage” online concert hosted by Surrey Civic Theatres, for broadcast debut on Friday, Jan. 29, starting at 7 p.m. and ending with a live Q&A with Dos Santos.
“We had a rug island on the stage and played mostly original songs and some to highlight a couple of Black female singers, to go along with Black History Month,” Dos Santos said of the free, hour-long concert.
It’s a very different experience with no audience, she admitted.
“The applause is something you miss, that connection with people there.
“I introduce each song and tell a tiny anecdote about each of them, for the most part. It’s a bit of banter, which I like. I’m not a performer who just plows through the song, because they all have some sort of story to tell.”
The concert’s focus is Bloom/Burn, an award-winning album of R&B/soul songs released by Dos Santos last February, two weeks before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.
The timing wasn’t great for the Edmonton-raised musician/actor.
“I wanted to tour and do some more with it, for sure,” she sighed during a phone call.
On the bright side, the album helped Dos Santos win the 2020 Western Canadian Music Award for R&B Artist of the Year.
In recent years Dos Santos has kept busy with a number of diverse projects, including acting in the Arts Club’s “Dreamgirls” musical, a “History of Motown” tour of schools she does with a band, and also “Hey Viola!,” a new cabaret-style musical she co-created about Canadian civil rights trailblazer Viola Desmond. Last summer, she was featured in New Westminster’s Uptown Live virtual concerts at Massey Theatre.
In Surrey, she has performed at the Tree Lighting Festival at city hall and also the big Canada Day celebration in Cloverdale, among other gigs.
Surrey’s “Digital Stage” series of shows is designed to help people staying home connect with the performing arts. Dos Santos’ performance will be available to watch until March 12 on Surrey Civic Theatres’ Facebook page and the City of Surrey’s YouTube channel.
“For my album, each song was fully produced with horns, strings and all these other lovely bells and whistles, while for the Bloom/Burn showcase I’m stripping my performance down to the songs and the writing,” she said.
“I’m accompanied by just a guitar, which is exciting, because a song really has to have strength to stand like that on its own, and it gives me and (Youngash) a real chance to showcase the songs in a much more intimate way.”
Dos Santos has been involved in the performing arts since she was a teenager, and recorded her first album in 2008, the start of her solo music career.
“I went to performing arts college and intended to pursue more of a musical theatre path, but I found a little more love in the recording arts and I was awarded a grant to record. I had never even played a live show or sang with a band. So, I recorded my album first and I got into music that way. More interest happened career-wise initially, but I’m still very much involved in theatre, so I’d say my creativity is a big mix of everything.”
For songs and more details about Dos Santos, including some local live gigs, visit krystledossantos.com.
Also this month, until Jan. 31, Surrey’s “Digital Stage” is showing Why Not Theatre’s family comedy-drama “A Brimful of Asha” online for a “pay what you can” price, with $15 suggested. Writer/actor Ravi Jain co-stars with his mother, Asha Jain, in the play, about arranged marriage.
Also planned for “Digital Stage,” from Feb. 12-28, is a performance of “Fifty Shades of Vinyl: A Canadian Parody,” HappySad Theatre’s tribute to Stuart McLean, “with a saucy twist.”