[Source : Around The Way Curls]
If you live in Philadelphia and love live music then you must be familiar with the bar and restaurant “Time”. If you are familiar with “Time” on Tuesdays then you have probably been graced by Kriss Mincey who performs faithfully every Tuesday night. I first saw Kriss last summer and was completely blown away by her rendition of Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You”. Aside from being stupidly talented, she seems incorruptibly innocent and good natured. Her social media focuses on self-help, self-awareness and the metaphysics behind “the power of now”. Talented, beautiful, positive yet slightly guarded she is an incredible artist to follow. Here is an interview with the amazing Kriss Mincey.
1. Tell us about yourself. Where were you raised? Where did you study? Where do you currently reside?I am Kriss, a singer new to Philadelphia by way of Baltimore. At the moment, I’m living in West Philly.
My parents are both retired Navy Veterans so I moved a bit. I always had my home in the North West part of the city to come home to. I still do. Same house and same neighbors from when I was small. I spent time in Richmond and Hampton, Virginia, and Aberdeen, MD where where I’d attend the Aberdeen Science and Mathematics Academy at Aberdeen High School. At the University of Maryland College Park I studied public relations, gender and communication, African-American Studies, particularly focused in gender relations and literature produced during the Harlem Renaissance.
2.Have you always wanted to perform? When did you realize that your heart belonged to the stage? I’ve always performed, now that I think of it. My mom was instrumental in exposing me to theatre and dance, practically from birth. The first show I ever saw on Broadway was “The Magic School Bus”.
When my parents split, a lot of my energy channeled itself into writing and public speaking. It was yet another stage, and the podium became my theater, my dance. It wasn’t until high school that I danced again, and even then, I was convinced I would have to give it up for something “more serious”, once I started college. But the Universe has its way of bringing us back to the beginning again, back to the purpose we were designed for. Thats when I found music. Better yet, that’s when it found me. Fall semester 2008, I sang on stage by myself for the first time. “JukeJoint” was an open mic event held on campus every first Thursday. It was the first of the year and more than 200 students were there. I sang Phyllis Hyman’s rendition of “Betch By Golly Wow”, and the crowd raved. From that night on, up until the day I graduated, I was the girl who sang at the “JukeJoint”.
3. You were a contestant on American Idol. What did you learn about the machine of mass media at that time? Most importantly, what did you learn about yourself?American Idol was cool. My time on the show was probably the first time I learned the importance of being present; that is being mindful of the moment at hand. The media coverage around the show was like a different reality of a parallel universe where I was watching myself. Freaky stuff. Remembering where I was in the present moment made it less confusing and easier to cope. If you ever hear about public figures having anxiety or depression, the truth is they’re a lot more like us than we realize. The same sort of dual-reality effect that Idol had for me, other people deal with on a much larger scale.
The more exposure you gain, the more important it is to be mindful of the moment. We all get overwhelmed sometimes by what’s around us, remorseful of past mistakes. You find your calm in the present. So just be right here, right now. The only reality is now.
4. You recently hosted a three part series – Unleash the Best which was an all encompassing focus on the physical, mental and emotional grind of being an artist and entrepreneur in the Philadelphia area. From your experience, do you think Philadelphia is a city which supports and encourages it’s entertainers? Unleash the Beast (UTB) was a great opportunity for me to become more embedded in the Philadelphia community. When I first moved to Philly last spring, I sought out people whom I admired, people I identified as cultural influencers, and asked to interview them. In these interviews, I found a common thread of commentary: “there’s so much talent in Philly, but it’s broken up…it doesn’t have a brand, a voice, a movement, because everyone is competing against each other.” What some local artists had identified as a Philly flaw was in fact a cultural trope that extended far beyond city boarders. American culture teaches us to define success by dominance. The need to compete, to be “better than” just to feel good enough.It’s no wonder everyone is stressed and aggressive, not to mention lonely and isolated. UtB allowed me to create a safe space where Philly artists, entrepreneurs and investors could support each other without the fear of vulnerability. In short, I’ve learned that Philly absolutely supports Philly when we create the space for it.
5. What is the hardest part about being an artreprenuer? Honestly, I think the hardest part of being an Artrepreneur is being the engineer of your own thoughts. It’s an awesome gift, and at the same time, a huge responsibility to yourself to make the things you want real. It’s scary to think anyone could have that much power. But we do. We become who we are when we embrace that fact. And that’s what being an Artrepreneur is really all about.
6. I hate to even speak this possibility into existence because Lord knows your gift and warm spirit deserve to be shared with the masses but do you have a plan B if music does not work out? Is plan B even a possibility? The art always works out so long as we submit to it. Music has served as a vehicle for me to occupy new spaces. UTB has been proof of that. I’m a singer who talks, teaches and creates, and aspires to do all the above on a grander scale. So really, it’s not a question of whether music will work out for me, so much so as it is a question of how it’ll work through me. The sweetest problem of it all is deciding what to get my hands into next.
7. Who is your musical idol? One of my musical idols is Nina Simone. My mom named me Simone as my middle name to honor her. I watched an interview she did with BBC World’s “Hardtalk” and I fell in love. She was so…human and passionate, and I said to myself “God, that woman.” I understood why my mother adored her for so many of the same reasons I adored my mother. It’s in her girth of spirit, her audacity and her refusal to be sanitized in the interpretation of her ideas. I very much look forward to growing into myself and into my art in this way.
8. When you envision success in your life what do you see? Success looks like me traveling with the babies I’ll have, all across the world on trains, with polaroids and dinners with my friends all of whom are everyday superheroes. But what it feels like is: Calm. Air. Water. Warmth. It feels like contentment. Ironically, its the very thing I’m fighting against to be “Successful”. And it makes me think, even as I write this response, how did we become so obsessed with the idea of success, and when did it become something so different from happiness?”
9. What do you feel are the responsibilities of the young, gifted and black?
The responsibility of the young, gifted and black are the same as any other human being – to stay human. To live in your purpose, whatever that is, is the closest you can ever be to God. Don’t trade that just to satisfy an agenda or set of expectations. Your first obligation is always to your heart.
10.What are you currently working on? Where can people find you? I’m excited to be releasing new music this season. “Otherwise” is my first single with Bold New Breed Records.