Krystal Gem is easily on my “Top 5 Jackson Girl Crush List.” She embodies the anthem of “Black Girl Magic” not only in her original arrangement, but as a recent college grad, up and coming visual artist, multilingual, classical songstress, and darling of Midtown. I was first mesmerized by her artistry during Jackson Indie Music Week 2017 when she told me – not anyone else in the crowd—to “know your worth.” I was sold.
We met for afternoon popsicles and I tried not to let my fangirl kick in at all that she’s accomplished. It inevitably did, but she gave the love right back with gems of wisdom and unapologetic. Bless her.
What to Try
Blackberry lemonade popsicle on a hot, Thursday afternoon
On Pursuing Your Art
“If you feel like you won’t be well received, then practice with your friends and stuff first … I think if you are unsure about whether or not you want to put yourself out in the public [eye] with your art, I totally get that. I’m a very insecure person … but feed yourself confidence, put yourself out there, [be] constantly writing, constantly trying to make something new and flesh it out.”
“I ask my little brother to give me a word, and I have to make a song out of it, no matter what it is. It could be something like “zombie” and I have to make a song. And he really challenges me with that … I enjoy that the most ‘cause It keeps me on my feet, man.”
“I decided, well, I’m gonna explore Judaism, and Buddhism, and Hinduism and Islam and … what I discovered was that everyone is kinda sayin’ the same thing in a different way, but unanimously music is the one part of the service where people don’t give a damn about what’s being said in the pulpit or anything like that. Music speaks to people regardless of race, creed, color, denomination.”
“I never thought I would connect or resonate with an old white man from the South, ever in my life, until I had to sing with one in the choir! … [As a] young, queer, black woman from the South, you never expect to break those kinds of barriers, you know, or connect with those kinds of people who don’t share your same experience, but [when] making music, you kinda have to and it works out. It’s cool.”
Thoughts on Brain Drain
“Never forget home. I wouldn’t be who I am without it, but I got to experience the rest of my world, who I’m meant to be, so leave. Go. Grow. You never know how big your wings are until you spread them!”
Keeping Herself Accountable
“‘Sissy, you’re full of shit’ … ‘Sissy you’re being rude. Sissy, why are you doing this? Sissy…’ He’s really good at honing in on my feelings, but he’ll also balance me on it and say ‘Hey, I got your back.’ I don’t know how much a 15-year-old [baby brother, Matthew] can have your back, but he’s had it.”
Words to the People
“If you’ve ever supported me in any way, thank you! Drink water. Lay your edges. Mind your business, when necessary. Care about your people. Remember you’re the shit.”
As we parted ways, I pinned my calendar to catch up with Krystal Gem at Juneteenth festivities and to YouTube Millie Jackson’s “Phuck You Symphony” at her recommendation.