About Krissy Krissy
Not much has changed since then. When the 23-year-old pop/rock artist sings, that same guttural passion still shows on her face and her audience is still dumbstruck at this “little white girl with soul,” as she was so oft described. Except today instead of doing it at the church in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood that she grew up in, she’s singing it out to millions nationwide via MTV, Logo, iHeartRadio, and YouTube thanks to her summer hit, “Dream,” the first single from her debut EP, Above All, which is a Freshman Pick on MTVu, a “NewNextNow” featured video on Logo, and a Top 10 hit on iHeartRadio.
“I’ve been singing and showboating for as long as I could talk and walk,” says the California-born/Brooklyn-bred Krissy Krissy, whose church nickname was “Frederica” because of how well she would perform Fred Hammond’s gospel greats. “I’m the baby girl out of a family of six kids and my dad was a pastor and very musical – he played piano and guitar and even made me my first guitar when I was 15. All the kids in my family would sing, but because I was the baby girl, my dad would give me solos and sit me on top of a kitchen table and have me sing for everyone.”
By age 12, she joined the youth choir at church and soon became a local celebrity for the way she would work a crowd and stun people with a big, soulful voice coming out of, as she says, “this small little white girl.” By age 14, she was asked to join the adult choir – an invitation rarely given to someone this young. “Once I joined choir, I started realizing that I might have something here,” explains Krissy Krissy, who was raised on a healthy mix of Christian, gospel, and oldies music mixed in with such greats as Barbra Streisand, Anita Baker, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald. “My family always supported me, but to have strangers come up after performances and tell me I moved them, was something else.”
Her time in the adult choir was short-lived, though. At age 15, Krissy Krissy was kicked out of choir and church for kissing a girl. Devastated, confused, and trying to sort through the growing pains of youth proved painful for the young singer. At age 17, she moved out of her family-of-8’s crowded two-bedroom apartment where they would literally have to dodge bullets at night and walk en masse to the bodega for safety.
But she channeled her emotions into song and soon started writing her own lyrics. “With the help of my father, who was my everything, I learned strength, courage, and self acceptance and channeled all of that into my music – into something positive. I’m not bitter toward the church. All that practice in church on the pulpit paved the way for what I do now. I still get the crowd going like I did when I was little,” she says.
Soon Krissy Krissy found another avenue for her vocal and performance talents – local karaoke competitions. She’d sometimes perform up to four times a week often winning cash prizes between $3,000 and a whopping $10,000 for sets that included Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and her rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” as well as Melissa Etheridge’s badass break-up song, “Like The Way I Do” and Barbra Streisand’s show-stopping “Don’t Rain On My Parade.” It was at one fateful karaoke competition when she was discovered.
“My showboating skills came in handy here,” she laughs. “And I think the fact that my image is kind of tough – tattoos (I have 26 now), jeans, sneakers, button down shirt, vest, and I’d wear a backwards Yankees hat back them – but the songs I choose were polar opposites of what people expected from me is why I won a lot. The crowd would chant, ‘Krissy! Krissy!’ all the time and that’s why I call myself Krissy Krissy today.”
That juxtaposition of soft and hard, tough and vulnerable, sweet and experienced is what makes her a unique artist today. She has a way of being vulnerable in song, but with an edge that makes it hard to not pay attention to. One person who paid attention was Dennis Wynn, the music executive who discovered her at a karaoke competition at Tacu Tacu in Williamsburg, N.Y. in 2011 and signed her to his company, Bigger Than Buildings, alongside the visual development of RRAW Films.
But, as she was working on her debut release, one more devastating blow would come Krissy Krissy’s way. Her father was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and Hepatitis C when she was a little girl and even had a successful liver transplant for 13 years. But in 2011, his health took a turn for the worst and just as Krissy Krissy was finding herself as an artist and coming into her own as a woman, her hero, mentor, and No. 1 fan passed away.
“My dad was everything to me,” says Krissy Krissy, who wants to help spread the word about the importance of being an organ donor since it touched her life so greatly. “He taught me at a young age to really believe in what I sing, to be humble, and to be a fighter. He would rescue me in more ways than one and was a huge part of my life and who I am. He also had a [Bible] verse for me, too, that would get me through. He was my rock and he loved me no matter what. When he died, it nearly broke me. That’s why the EP is dedicated to him. Above All is directly about him because above everything, he was there for me and loved me.”
Above All, which features six songs written or co-written by Krissy Krissy, is centered on the theme of all types of love. The great love of a father-daughter relationship is represented in the title track. Jealous love is the focus of “Suspicious,” which is the second single from the EP. “Your Love” is about finding happiness in that ultimate love. “Broken Glass” is about loving and being yourself through difficult times. “Maybe I” touches on wishing you could’ve loved someone a little bit more. And the first single and video, “Dream,” is about the love of music and living out your dreams.
“I hate labels, so I just like to call my music ‘genre-less, feel good music,’” she explains. “A lot of pop singers today are sex symbols and that’s not what I’m about. I want people to hear my music, not see it. I want people to feel something when they hear my songs and to relate to what I’m singing. I think my music speaks to the misfits out there; people who, like me, go against the grain.”
Krissy Krissy debut Ep "Above All" is now available on iTunes.