Crys Matthews is an ambitious folk-pop artist from DC. Crys is a voice of a new generation and writes powerful social justice lyrics that encourage people to express what they believe in. Her brand new album Changemakers” speaks for itself and consists of twelve songs that” remind all of us who we are in such difficult times. Crys was recognized by Billboard, performed in Sundance Film Festival, popular music festivals, and Tedx Talks where she gave an honest, powerful speech. She is a modern role model for most societies and women around the globe.
Hello, Crys! Thank you for taking some time off to answer a few questions about your Life. Can you tell us more about yourself?
First off, thanks for taking the time to sit down with me. I’m originally from southeastern NC, but DC is home for me now. I’ve been performing professionally for about 12 years, and I just released a new hope-fueled, love-filled social justice album called Changemakers that I’m really excited to talk to you about.
Bravo for releasing the most powerful album of March “Changemakers” What encouraged you to write it?
There’s an Ani DiFranco lyric in her song Fuel that says, “People used to make records as in “a record of an event.” Global pandemic aside, these past several years have definitely been ‘an event’ to put it mildly. Folk music is, in its purest form, music of the people and, as a Folk singer, I felt a responsibility to sing out about the things many of us have endured and that fact that we did endure and survive it because it’s inevitable that future generations will be having many of these same conversations about issues like racism, socio-economic inequality, the #MeToo movment, the opiod crisis, LGBTQ equality and so on. I think Changemakers is going to be relevant for a very long time (although I would really love to be wrong about that because that would mean we took a giant, collective leap towards justice).
Could you tell us more about your early life?
I grew up in Richlands, NC — the town of perfect water — and, like most southern black kids who grew up in the AME church, I sang in the choir. Gospel music was definitely my first musical love (which is why you hear that influence so heavily on Call Them In and Hope Revolution). My second was classical music. I’m actually a classically trained clarinetist and, from the time I was in sixth grade, I was pretty sure that I was going to be a high school band director. But the universe had other plans. When I was in college at Appalachian State University, I ended up having to fill in for the keyboard player in my buddy’s band for this one random gig of theirs. That night completely changed my life and made me fall in love with music in a completely different way. It was because of that night that I wrote my first song, and the rest is history.
When did you feel the need to express yourself creatively?
When I was a little kid, I used to write poetry a lot as a way to express myself. As a little girl who knew I liked girls from the time I was about four-years old, but who grew up in the 80s and 90s when LGBTQ acceptance was definitely not a thing, I had a love ot big emotions to process and writing definitely helped me do that. It’s the same for me now as an adult. My songwriting is very much a way of processing for me. It just so happens that many other people are processing some of those same things which, I think, is why they’re able to connect to my music so deeply.
People are still struggling to give their opinion on certain political issues, what is one message you would give them?
If you are having trouble finding the right words to say something really important, there is probably someone who already said it and said it really well. Important issues never exist in a vaccum. It doesn’t whether or not you’re using your words as long as you’re using your voice. As the late, great John Lewis said, “speak up, speak out.” We are living in an extraordinary time and your voice matters.
Do you have any hobbies no one knows about?
I’ve already outed myself as a band nerd (a term I proudly embrace), but I am also a hardcore Pokemon Go player. In my defense, I’m a social-justice Folk singer — I have to have something light to keep the weight of the things I sing about from crushing me. It seems like a pretty safe vice for a PK (preacher’s kid).
What is your dream collaboration?
That is a very long list, but I would absolutely love to sing with or write for Ruthie Foster or Tracy Chapman. They’re both been such inspirations for me as a black girl with a guitar.
What is your favourite song at the moment?
It’s Aries season, so I’m going to unapologetically say that This Kind of War on Changemakers is my favorite song right now. I cannot stop listening to that song as difficult as the subject matter is because it is just so incredibly beautiful. The way the instruments are each characters in a conversation, the haunting swells of the background vocals — it feels like a movie. It’s a song that I rarely get to perform, so to hear it come to life in such a gorgeous way… I’m just obsessed with it.
How do you think the world will change over the years?
I think that, if we do what my ancestors said to do, which is “keep your eyes on the prize” we will continue to move closer and closer towards a country (and world) that is more just. There are so many more people who believe in justice that they are literallly writing laws to keep people from voting. That’s how you know love and justice are winning. When the game can’t be won fairly by the oppressor, they have to change the rules. And that’s OK, they can change them. As this pandemic has taught us, we know how to adapt and adapt quickly. Love will win out. Justice will win out.
Do you think people’s political views change as time goes by?
I’m a very firm believer in that saying “the personal is political and the political is personal,” so I think that people’s outlooks on politics change when their worldview changes, and their worldview changes when they have actually experienced more of the world. It’s very easy to concern yourself with your own comfort and security when that’s all you’ve ever known. So much of politics is about the willingness to empathize with people and then create legislation that reflects that empathy.
What are some factors that unite us as human beings?
Love is what unites us. It is the thread that runs through every single thing that has ever moved this country forward and it will always be that thread, it will always be that thing that moves us forward.
What are you currently working on? Anything we should be excited about?
I just finished writing a song for the Working Families Party’s initiative to get the word out about the THRIVE Agenda and shared some of that on my social media platforms. Now that I’m fortunate enough to be fully vaccinated, I’ll be playing some live shows beginning in May so head over to crysmatthews.com to learn more.
Thank you for joining us and we wish you good luck!
Thank you for having me, and thank you so much for getting the word out about Changemakers.