Crystal King has been on the underground scene for years and has risen from the shadows with a signature sound. With her soulful vocals, she takes rhythm and blues back to its original form, whilst sprinkling hints of contemporary jazz with traditional pop. “My sound is pretty much a mash-up of everything that inspires me,” King says on defining her sound. “I don’t let genres define me. I just see music for what it is and make the music that I like, regardless of what category it falls into.”
King first gripped a microphone at age 7, singing in her community, at church and school events. She perfected her craft singing live on the circuit and was often tapped to provide lead vocals. The East London native credits Prince, Madonna, Mary J. Blige , Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keys as big influencers. Having picked up a steady following in the U.K. and overseas, King talks about her recent experience singing during the 2012 London Olympics. Read what she has to say. –yvette caslin
How were you selected to sing at the 2012 London Olympics?
I really wanted to be involved in the Olympics, especially as it was being hosted in Newham, East London, which is my borough; I grew up there. My role as a musician at the Olympics was me performing a full live set of my EP The Complexity of Crystal King, which was broadcast live on the Olympic big screens at Newham Live. I was completely blown away to be booked for that twice. My fan base in Newham is quite strong, so the organizers contacted me and said they wanted to book me for both the Olympic Screens and the Paralympics Screens. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to rock out for my hometown on such a huge platform.
Did you have to audition?
I think Newham have had their eye on me for a while. I have done many shows in Newham, including being booked for the Newham Mayor’s show five consecutive years running, as well as doing lots of youth events and mentoring of young people within the borough. So, I think they know I’m dedicated to the borough and give 100% to my live shows. Those previous shows were kind of like my “audition process,” if you like, for the Olympics performance. It meant a lot to me.
Prior to this opportunity, what has been your most memorable performance?
I feel like I’ve lived my whole life doing shows. It’s so hard to pick one, as each experience takes me somewhere new and I learn so much from it… I supported De La Soul at the iconic Jazz Cafe in London, which was absolutely amazing, as De La Soul are hip-hop icons. I’m not a hip-hop artist, but the crowd was so lively and really receptive to my music, which was an amazing experience.
What is your favorite sport to watch in the 2012 London Olympics?
Definitely the 100m sprint. It’s over in a matter of seconds, but it’s by far the highlight for me. Also, for the Paralympics I have to say basketball is my favorite sport. It’s so inspiring seeing incredible athletes, who against the odds, are pushing all boundaries, it’s just incredible and really inspiring stuff.
What is your fashion style?
I like to dress to my personality on any given day. My wardrobe is a rainbow and I definitely need my accessories. My hats are a big yes! I have so many from trilby’s, to snapbacks, to oversized woolly ones, to multi colored bandanas. I just can’t get enough of hats and headwear. I always have to add something like that to anything I wear. I don’t have one particular trend, my dress sense varies depending on my mood. It’s all quite mish mash.
If you could perform with anyone in the world, who would it be? Why?
I think it would have to be someone who would challenge me to go outside of my day to day genre or someone who would take me on a roller coaster ride with their experience… Madonna or Erykah Badu.
For more of Crystal King, follow her on Twitter @CrystalTheKing and find her on Facebook: CrystalKing.