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Out in the woods she lived, all alone. At least that’s what it felt like, never belonging to any one group and having a penchant for the oppressed. Crystal did not come from a musical family, and unlike so many children who are forced into music lessons, at age seven she practically ran away to her piano teacher’s house down the street – books in her basket – pedaling as fast as she could down the gravel road – dust flying behind.
When she was still young, a little demon told her that she shouldn’t sing, that it sounded better when she just played the piano, but she was determined to ignore the demon and sing her heart out anyway. But sometimes the influence of the demon rendered her silent and still, and her hands seemed to be void of life.
As she grew up she traveled the world, dancing with the Romani people of Spain, residing in an “anarchist” collective, working in Yellowstone, and above all else learning about other cultures and their music. It was in Greensboro, NC in 2010 that she met what would become her first Silver Hand. Diego Diaz had witnessed her previous band that took him to another time and place, and he wished to contribute his haunting and ethereal guitar sounds. It was around this time that Crystal’s hands began to grow back. She began writing her own music again, and in less than a year collaborated with the North Carolina Symphony on an arrangement of her song “Toy Hammer” for their 2010 New Year’s Eve program at Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh. She is constantly performing, has had two Northeast tours and has played alongside Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Larkin Grimm, Pearl and the Beard and many more.
Muses and Bones , her second album, will cast you into an otherwordly, ethereal, hauntingly familiar yet strange landscape, ranging from deranged Cirque du Soleil to burlesque European Carnival. Within Crystal’s unconventional song structures, you’ll hear her inspiration from P.J. Harvey and Björk, and a deep love for Yann Tiersen and the Gotan Project. Her lyrics and melodies portray the world as a dark and strange (and often funny) place deeply connected to fables and imagination. Stories such as “Little Match Girl” and “Skeleton Woman” convey folklore lessons that address phases in women’s lives where they need to be conscious of staying true to their intuition. Songwriting begins in many different ways, including inspiration from refrigerator magnet poetry or going to the movies alone at midnight, but is mostly a channeling process that happens late at night when the veil between reality and dreams is the thinnest. Expect the unexpected.
Crystal’s songs reflect her educational background in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology and her experiences playing and singing various styles – Mariachi, Chinese, Balinese Gamelan, Ugandan, Samba and more. She is a mad multi-tasker who jumps around on accordion, musical saw (self-taught through YouTube videos), piano, adungu (a Ugandan harp), concertina and bombo (Argentine drum) – sometimes more than one at a time! She possesses astounding vocal range and power that descends on a dime to delicate subtlety. One moment she sings, she soars – and the next… a falsetto whisper that slyly peeks behind the curtain.
Many Silver Hands have come and gone on various nontraditional instruments. These days Sandy Blocker, whom Crystal met as her African drumming teacher 11 years ago, contributes African, Middle Eastern, and South American rhythms by adding riqq, jembe and congas, alongside kick drum and cymbals. Another Silver Hand is the exquisitely tasteful Jeremy Denman from the hip-hop group Urban Sophisticates on trumpet. Crystal desires to collaborate with other artists in all areas of media and believes strongly that arts have the power to create community and heal.
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