Crystal Nicole knows how to craft hit songs. She’s won four Grammy Awards and five ASCAP Awards. She’s penned hits for Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Beyonc? and Mary J. Blige.
30 year-old Nicole was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia. She actually penned her first song at the age of ten. Among the songs she’s written or co-written: Janet Jackson’s “Touch My Body” and “Cruise Control” (ft. Damian Marley); Brandy’s? “The Definition”; Mariah Carey’s “Angels Cry”; Rihanna “Only Girl (In the World)”; David Guetta’s “Night Of Your Life”; among others.?
Also, she wrote Mary J. Blige’s last single for the ‘Think Like A Man, Too’ soundtrack called “Suitcase”.
Of course, she’s a singer in her own right as well. Her debut album is ‘I Am Crystal Nicole’ and she has penned songs for herself, with the release of her new single, “I Don’t Belong To You.”
Nicole spoke with TNJ.com about her career in entertainment.
TNJ.com: Tell me about your album?
Crystal Nicole: The first single from my album, which was independently released in September, is ?I Don?t Belong to You.? The album is titled ‘I Am Crystal Nicole.’ It is my first album and it is basically a declaration of who I am. On this album, I talk about my strengths and my weaknesses.
TNJ.com: Are you looking to stop working behind the scenes or to do both?
CN: I definitely look to do both. Every song I write is not meant for me to sing it. So I enjoy having the opportunity to write for myself as well as others.
TNJ.com: What drove you to get into the music business?
CN: I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, growing up with the influences of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and so many others. I have always wanted to sing but I had no idea that I would get the opportunity to do it professionally. I would do it for free because music is a part of who I am. That mentality plus God’s grace allowed me to catch the attention of some amazing people and be in the music industry as a professional. But my drive was never about the music industry; it was always about the music.
TNJ.com: What were some of your challenges in entering the business and how did you overcome them?
CN: I was always challenged with image and what people felt was the standard for female artists, also growing up in a single parent home with just enough to get by made it difficult to see myself as more than my environment allowed.
I was also challenged by my own mistakes like not graduating from high school, so that made the idea of becoming a singer/songwriter an impossible thought. But I never bought in to the idea of plan B. I believe that to have a plan B meant the possible failure of plan “A” and I figured since everybody cancelled me out I wasn’t going to cancel myself out. I was determined to go against the grain of what other people and including myself thought was possible.
TNJ.com: What continues to become a challenge and how do you address it?
CN: Insecurity, losing focus of my purpose and my goals, and worrying about what other people are doing and how they are doing it. I’m constantly having to refocus and keep my eyes forward and block out what’s around me. Like a race horse, I have to readjust my blinders so that I can see the finish line and what that looks like.
TNJ.com: Has the industry opened up more to women in the business as far as songwriting and producing?
CN: I think it’s always going to be tough for women to be taken seriously by other people if they don’t take themselves seriously. You’re only worth what you’re willing to accept. As women, we have to put a higher value on ourselves. That’s in any industry.
TNJ.com: What do you enjoy the most about being in the music business?
CN.com: I love being able to professionally create music. I love that my job is to make something amazing out of silence. That’s awesome!
TNJ.com: Goals for this year?
CN: To complete my album. LOL
TNJ.com: Long term goals?
CN: To inspire people to be more than what the world says they are worth. By using my musical gifts and abilities, I want to help people find their true identity.
TNJ.com: Record sales are down drastically, how do you hope to better promote your CD?
CN: I have no clue. LOL. I write songs and sing them. I’ll let the politics handle themselves.