People have already told me this, but this is something that I had to learn emotionally as well as intellectually within myself: know your worth. When it comes to making money, depending on what you do, people will ask you how much you want to be paid. Don’t just settle for any amount; make sure you are getting paid what you know you deserve and don’t be afraid to voice it.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing singer Christina Jones.
As a musical theater major at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, up-and-coming artist Christina Jones knew that music would always play an instrumental role in her life. Christina started her pursuit in art as a young girl by singing in church and school musicals, where she discovered her passion for music and began entering competitions.
She entered the world of performing arts and music theater and her talents landed her in the Top 40 of American Idol, alongside multiple appearances at The Apollo in Harlem, NY. Christina’s conscious drive and dedication also earned her roles in musicals at the New Repertory Theater and Central Square Theater in 2021.
With influences like Ella Fitzgerald, Janelle Monae, Alicia Keys, and Maya Angelou, Christina has a unique, artistic style that translates strong feelings of purpose into her poetry and songwriting. Her jazz and R&B background resonate through her lyrics and personal creative projects, including her most recent project titled “America the Dream” with founders Shelbie Rassler and Steve Schuch.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/785e16514e1ee4784f647b880294fd25
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always known ever since I was a little girl that I wanted my life and my career to include music in some way, shape, or form. I grew up singing in church and school, and I would compete in vocal competitions so that I could get as much experience as I could. Aside from musical theater, which is what I’m studying in college right now, what really solidified being a vocal artist for me was competing in the St. Louis Teen Talent competition my junior year of high school. That was one of the first times that I had ever sung anything without a track and with an actual band, and I remember how powerful and free I felt being up on that stage. There was just something about not only singing a difficult song but telling a story through that song that felt so natural and exhilarating. I had competed for three years in a row, and when I won that year, it really showed me that I was meant to be on stage. That was the moment that I realized that I not only want to be a vocalist, but I want to pursue a career in musical theater as well. I just love being a great artist and making great art.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
That’s a really difficult question to answer. I’m caught up with three experiences: competing in American Idol, singing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY, multiple times, and getting a callback for the Peggy/Mariah Reynolds track for Broadway. All three experiences taught me a lot about myself as an artist and forced me to take a look at myself and see what I’m really capable of; each time that I would step into that audition room or onto that stage, it’s a time for me to play.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now, I’m working on an album with Kimiko Ishizaka entitled You Were My Compass. I’m bringing Kimiko’s story of love gained and lost to life through the songs she’s written. I’m recording them all in early January, and the album is expected to be released in 2021.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I’ve definitely met some interesting people throughout my career, but meeting Lionel Richie in person when I was on American Idol will always be special to me. I remember it was like meeting the uncle I never knew I had. He was so supportive of everyone on the show, and he always had something insightful and uplifting to say. I grew up with his music; my dad used to play his songs all throughout the house and on long car rides to and from school growing up, so it was surreal to see him sitting in front of me and talking to me. Even when they sent me home, I’ll never forget him looking me straight in the eyes and telling me, “don’t stop singing; keep going.” And I knew that he meant it with all his might. It meant the world to me that those words came out of Lionel Richie’s mouth and directed at ME of all people. I’ll never forget that.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
There are a couple of things that I still struggle to remind myself of but that I know are integral to our mental health as artists in a world that demands so much of us all the time, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
1.) Self-care looks different for everyone. Just because you see Susan on Instagram in a bathtub with rose petals and a facial does not mean you’re failing to take care of yourself. Self-care means listening to you and doing what you need to do for yourself. Self-care can look like a vacation to the beach (taking proper safety precautions, of course) for one person and just sitting in silence and doing nothing for 10 minutes for another. That’s the beauty of self-care; it’s taking care of yourself by doing what you know your body and your mind needs.
2.) It’s okay to step away from your work every once in a while. I don’t mean dropping every single project you have, but I am saying that if you’re doing something you consider your favorite thing every day nonstop for a long time, it’s easy for that thing to feel more like a job and not a dream anymore. Taking a break and finding new things to do helps you to refresh yourself and find inspiration not only for your craft but for yourself from a different angle.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Do it all, afraid! There are so many reasons to be afraid of working in the music industry, theater industry, or just working as an artist in general, and some of them are justified. But if you know in your gut that this is what you were meant to do, your fear will only serve to immobilize you if you let it. Your fear and your nerves are valid, but they only have as much power over you as you give them. Focus that energy on the want more than the hesitation, and give it you’re all. I promise you you’ll regret it if you don’t at least try to get your foot in the door. Take baby steps, but take steps regardless of the fear of falling.
Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.
Something that I love to do (and I should start up again because I stopped a while ago) when I’m anxious or feel myself second-guessing myself is journaling. I just write and write my stream of consciousness, what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling that way, then I read it back when I’m ready and replace all the negativity and pessimism with affirmations. When I was a freshman in college, I was having a very rough time with my own self-image and my confidence in my artistry, so I wrote out all the bad thoughts I was having about myself and replaced them with affirmations. I remember I wrote down something like, “I’m a failure because I haven’t done this yet,” and I replaced it with something like, “I’m not where I want to be right now, and that is upsetting me. But I’m going to get there eventually in my own time.” It really helped me to look at myself in a realistic way and forced me to be honest with myself. I also love to meditate and take myself on dates. Really just spending time with myself alone, as hard as it is at times, makes me feel so grounded and liberated.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You do NOT have a time frame for having everything “figured out.” One of my professors was talking to us about life after college, and she would always tell us that we have so much time to do what we want, and we just don’t realize how much time we have until college is over; it’s never too late to start anything.
- You don’t have to choose one career path to take. I’m a junior in college right now, and I still don’t really have a clear career path in mind. There are so many things about performance that interest me, and I want to do it all and then some. And that’s okay. It’s okay to have a passion for multiple things; you don’t have to be defined by one thing. I think a lot about Maya Angelou. Yes, she was a poet, but she also a singer, dancer, civil-rights activist and leader, screenwriter, and so much more. She was limitless in the legacy she left behind. As a more recent example, I also look at Janelle Monae, an amazing R&B/Hip Hop vocalist, actress, songwriter, dancer, and voice actress/narrator. It’s okay to be multi-faceted; you don’t have to limit yourself for the sake of others’ expectations of you and what your life should look like. It’s your life. Live it the way you want to live it.
- Don’t be picky about the projects you take on starting out, but be careful in choosing. It’s okay to say no at times. I learned this when I had an opportunity to travel to London for a musical theater intensive that was not at ALL what I expected it to be, and it left me feeling embarrassed, frustrated, ashamed, and it was overall a waste of my time. Granted, I met some amazing people while I was there, some of which I still consider some very close friends of mine, and I learned a lot while I was there, but it’s definitely an experience that I would like to avoid in the future. So be careful about the projects you take on. Not all opportunities are good ones for your career path.
- People have already told me this, but this is something that I had to learn emotionally as well as intellectually within myself: know your worth. When it comes to making money, depending on what you do, people will ask you how much you want to be paid. Don’t just settle for any amount; make sure you are getting paid what you know you deserve and don’t be afraid to voice it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Honestly, “do it afraid” has been my motto for as long as I can remember. My mama says it to me all the time, and it doesn’t just apply to my career. A lot of the time, I get so afraid to live my life that I just live it at a distance, if that makes any sense. I used to drown myself in my work because I figured that I was better off working than living my life the way I wanted to because that would mean rejection and failure was a possibility. Part of that is because, for me, it goes so far as being afraid to trust myself and know that I’m doing what I know is right for me, or knowing that I’m going to come out of a situation alive whether I succeed or don’t. Even trusting myself when I’m scared to death has opened so many doors for me and has helped me do things that I didn’t even know I was capable of doing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have gratitude for so many people who are either in my life or have left it for helping me become the person I am today, so this is another difficult question to answer. Honestly, I think I’m the most grateful for my sister Taylor. She’s the most blunt, honest, and kind person that I know, and I’ve learned so much from her just by observing the way that she works and the way that she goes about life. She is the epitome of using fear as a mobilizing factor in everything she does, so much so that I have watched the voice of fear grow quieter and quieter in her as the years go by. Just listening to her speak gives me a whole new way of looking at fear and my future, and she inspires me to do everything that I do when I am afraid.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m honestly still focused on the Black Lives Matter movement; it’s not over yet, and even though social media has seemingly gone back to normal for the most part, we are still a part of a movement that won’t cease until justice is served and equity has no exceptions.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
One of my biggest dreams is to spend a day with Lizzo. I have been in love with her ever since I first heard her song “Good as Hell,” and I think that she is not only funny and fun as hell, but she’s also so intelligent; I could see myself both having a really interesting conversation with her and completely destroying the city with her.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me on Facebook as Christina A. Jones, Instagram as @christinajonesofficial, and TikTok as @_christinajones. I also have a website at https://christinajones.com/.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!