Hi Kristi! Thanks so much for talking to me today!
Thanks so much for taking the time! I’ve really been looking forward to this and love the whole mission behind Mindful Melody.
For musicians the pandemic has been a very mixed experience with more time for creativity but missing the chance to perform to an audience. How has navigating the pandemic been for you and what are you most looking forward to now that it is coming to a close?
Quarantine was a bit of a wake-up call for me, honestly. It wasn’t until everything slowed down that I realized how burnt out I was, how much I had entwined my identity and self-worth with my career. For the first time ever, I had a moment to stop and ask myself, “Who are you if music isn’t in the picture? What else do you love?” While I still wrote new songs and jotted down ideas, I explored other hobbies and passions like cooking, gardening, vintage thrifting, and hiking. I also had the opportunity to spend real quality time with my fiancé and work on our relationship. Though it came via tragic means, I’m grateful for the time I had to reflect and just take a breather from “doing” all the time. As the pandemic has started to recede, it’s been nice to go out in public and enjoy the company of others again. I’m looking forward to playing writers' rounds and gigs here soon.
You released your EP ‘Life of the Party’ at the end of 2020, what was it like pulling together this project in the height of COVID?
Being at home and not having a full schedule allowed me to focus on getting the project to the finish line, and there was no lack of work to be done, that’s for sure! Honestly, I was most excited to be giving people something to look forward to in the midst of such a dark and confusing time. Music comforts, inspires, and excites, and I hoped 'LOTP' would do that.
Musicians put a lot of time, energy and emotions into projects such as this one - how does it feel as an artist to send these projects out into the world after your heart and soul has gone into them?
Imagine holding your breath for as long as you can and finally being able to exhale. That’s the best way to describe it! I had been keeping the songs and merch so close to my chest for so long and was just relieved to let everyone have it.
Taking the step to pursuing your dreams as a musician is a huge moment. What can you tell us about your journey and what advice would you give yourself if you were to start again?
My journey as an artist and writer started 13 years ago thanks to Loretta Lynn and my third-grade talent show. The moment I got off the stage after singing her version of “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” I knew music was what I was called to do. I spent the rest of my adolescence touring across the country playing at any county fair, farmers' market or coffee shop that would let me. If I were to start again, I would tell myself to have fun and learn the art of stillness. I can often be so serious and business-first that I forget to let go and enjoy the moment.
Congratulations on the engagement! How important has having that support system and significant other that you can trust been for your career and your mental health? Thank you! We can’t wait to finally get married this fall. Cliché as it sounds, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. He’s everything I could have ever wanted in a partner, and I’m grateful to be sharing my life with him. This industry can be incredibly isolating and artificial in nature, so to have someone who I can be myself with 100% of the time is a gift I am grateful for every day.
You were part of TV singing competition The Voice for it’s 13th season - being a Country artist, how was the experience of working so closely with a huge name such as Blake Shelton?
It was an honor! There’s so much to be learned from your peers, and I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to glean some of his industry wisdom.
Talent shows like The Voice can often thrust its contestants into the limelight - how did you find the sudden adjustment as a contestant and how do you think the whole experience has impacted where you are now?
It made me realize just how important it is to have trustworthy people in your corner that keep you grounded. Humility, gratitude, and integrity can and often are so quickly lost in an industry obsessed with accolades and attention. I walked away from that experience knowing that what mattered most was treating every producer, stage manager, contestant, janitor, and shuttle driver I encountered with intentional respect and kindness and to never compromise those two things to get ahead.
Performing has been a big part of your life from a young age - some people have an instant love for the stage whereas others find it more difficult to embrace. How does being on stage make you feel and has it always been something you’ve loved to do?
The stage is where I shine and I’m a born performer, as my parents can attest to with VHS tapes of me singing up on top of the coffee table when I was a toddler as proof. It’s all about the human connection. If I can put a smile on someone’s face or bring a tear to their eye, I’m happy.
Finally, one thing we ask all of our interviewees is to name their top three songs that relate to mental health. What would be your top three?
1. "Be Alright” – Dante Bowe and Amanda Lindsey Cook
2. “Brave” – Ruston Kelly
3. “Happy and Sad” – Kacey Musgraves
Buy print editions of Mindful Melody Issue 8 below!