Jenn Cristy is a true badass! She’s a wife, mom, musician, athlete, business owner, and she’s working to keep live music alive! (FYI: You should get tickets and join me in Indy on Aug. 20 for her show at the Hi-Fi Annex). She’s featured in Season 3, Episode 1 of the Badassery Life podcast, which you should absolutely listen to! She also took the time to answer a few questions to help us get to know her – and her badass self – just a little bit better.
What, if any, challenges have you faced?
I haven’t had the extreme challenges that I know many have had. I actually consider myself very lucky with how my life has played out. With that said, being a female in the music industry has provided its own challenges. People assume that since I play piano, I’m just a gentle mannered, singer songwriter. I do have my soft ballads, but when I hit the stage I play hard and I don’t stop moving. I’m much more of a rocker at heart than someone who can sit at the keys and serenade the audience. “Just another girl with a piano” has been stated many times when I was starting up and trying to get a stage to perform on. I let my live performances speak for themselves. Being a mother and wife isn’t a challenge, but the balance of family life and being a performing artist and business owner creates it’s own juggling game! My support system is so strong that I don’t have to work hard to make it all work.
I have had some abusive and very unhealthy relationships in my past that I wouldn’t wish on anybody. But we grow and learn, and they just made me stronger in the end. That also has made for some solid songwriting as most artists who share those experiences would probably say.
Have you ever felt vulnerable? When and what did you do?
I was bullied as a kid pretty fiercely. I was raised in an area with only a couple of mixed kids and I was adopted into a white family. In east Tennessee I was labeled handicapped because of my racial background. People left my parent’s church when they adopted me. The world is full of individuals who don’t or can’t understand things, and turn toxic. I cried every day in middle school into high school, I was insecure, I hated my hair and my boy like figure. Kids sang cruel songs, pulled on my hair, put objects in it that I wouldn’t find until the following morning at swim practice. It took me going to college and embracing who I was (to a point) to realize that I’m who I am and that is pretty great. It wasn’t really until I met my husband that I became myself.
I’m actually very grateful for my childhood though. It makes me a better parent and a better teacher.
What really matters to you?
A lot! I can go on and on about several topics, but generally I would say “kindness”. I try to meet everyone with a friendly face and open heart. I try to be better every day. I try to make people in my life better when they need guidance. I do everything I can to greet every student I have with “How are you doing today beautiful?” I want people to look in the mirror and love who they are, and I want those in my life or that cross paths with me to feel good after being around me. Sometimes I do care too much and disappointment exists. Not everyone can bring something positive to the table, but I do my best to surround myself with positive humans and activities.
What brings you happiness?
My family first of all. I have an 18-year-old daughter who is an incredible artist, funny, smart, and kind. My husband is my best friend and my biggest fan. I have a set of incredible, life-long friends that I can’t imagine my life without. And then there is music. In my opinion, there is no better feeling than being on stage and making that connection with the audience. If I could perform every day of the week, I would. If I could bottle the feeling of a standing ovation and handed it out to every friend and stranger, I would. Making the human connection through music is one of the most powerful connections possible…I write music with that in my heart. AND I love to play golf!
What has led to your success?
I personally think that “success” can be based on so many different levels. I feel successful because I have done what I’ve wanted to do. I don’t change for people. I’m open to suggestions to become better, but at the end of the day I do what feels right to me. I’ve also surrounded myself with the right people. I try to connect with fans, and I have created a really incredible loyal following. I never can understand it, but I’m grateful for it! I also have a pretty good work ethic. It comes from years of being a classical pianist while also being a highly competitive swimmer. My competitive spirit has been a driving force in how I’ve been able to continue to grow as professional musician.
What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
Tough question! That depends on the day. But generally I would say stubborn, high-energy, and driven. I would add a fourth and actually say “shy” – although I put a pretty good “social butterfly” face on!
What 3 words would someone else use to describe you?
Another tough question! What I hope someone who knows me would say is caring, confident, and (one I know my closest friends would say, including my husband) competitive.
What do you want people to know most about you/what you’re doing?
Well, currently I’m working very hard to keep live music alive! With my entertainment company, One Pulse Entertainment, we put together a collection of insanely fun and entertaining productions! We perform heavily in the second half of the year with a variety of revues and tributes. I’m proud of what we have built and are continuing to build. I am also still doing original music (which has been hard to create through the pandemic). I created a lot of fun “first time” videos this past year of some new material just to stay present in a time where I couldn’t make that human, in-person connection.
What gift do you believe you have and how do you like to/want to share that with others?
I have a lot of female friends who are younger than me (keeps me young I hope!) that I try to help guide through certain aspects of the industry. I have phone calls or zoom get togethers with them and friends of theirs to help answer any questions or concerns that come up in their experiences. They know I’m always here for them and my hope is to help keep them from making some of the really stupid mistakes I made on my journey. My mentality has always been, if we help each other, we all climb. Music is a much harder path than most believe. Audiences show up, see a great show, go home. What happens behind the scenes can be grueling, heartbreaking, frustrating, and exhausting. That’s the magic of it…the audience never needs to see that side. And even though it’s completely worth it, I try to help fellow artists avoid those extra burdens that can bring to life that little voice in your head saying “give up”.
Is there anything else you would like to add? Great questions! I guess the only thing that I didn’t put out there is I found out a year ago who my birth parents were, my history, and truly where I came from. Even though I can’t legally reach out to them, it definitely helped me work through some issues that I think people who are adopted can naturally have. I was loved, I was wanted, and knowing something like that is more empowering than I think most would realize. In an industry where all we want is to be loved and wanted, that kind of helped me become even more accepting of who I am and what I’m meant to do. Just a little extra bit of “me” thrown at you!
Click here for the direct link to her podcast episode!