#LetTheGirlsPlay: Krysta Nick Is an Old Soul With a Young Heart
Krysta Nick sings Chris Stapleton songs with as much passion and understanding as she does Justin Bieber hits. She calls James Taylor an influence, but admits she got emotional when she learned Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris broke up. When asked if she is an optimist or pessimist, she says, "It depends."
The 19-year-old native of Peachtree City, Ga. can't quite be described as a peach, even if you really want it for your narrative. Many guys do it seems, which is a whole separate story she'll get to in a moment. She's an old soul with a young heart — a very modern day chanteuse. That may be the best way to describe her music, too, actually.
I guess I just play whatever music that I enjoy and sometimes I’m a very 19-year-old girl and I listen to Justin Bieber. And sometimes I feel like having some Chris Stapleton in my life.
“My music isn’t straight-forward country," Nick says a few minutes after hesitantly ordering a flavored iced coffee. "I don’t know what genre it is. It’s just me. This is how I write songs and this is how I sing them." Nick looked around the room and occasionally studied people during her hour with Taste of Country, but never fell victim to distractions of technology. Words like "like" and "right?" connect sentences.
She writes beyond her years — like a woman once married who understands how love bonds and breaks people. "Easy" is among the first songs she ever played for the weekly #LetTheGirlsPlay concerts at the Listening Room in Nashville, and her soft delivery of emotions remains a Top 5 must-listen on the Song Suffragettes YouTube page.
"Drive," a song slapped together during a #LetTheGirlsPlay co-write at a YouTube event last month, matches that sincerity. At her best, everything is understated, but builds toward a perfect emotional crescendo. Her covers reflect her personality and strong storytelling. Find about two dozen of them on her personal YouTube page.
"I feel like I’ve always been a little beyond my years on things," Nick says. "I don’t really like to write very elementary songs, that are shallow. I like writing songs that make people feel things."
She says this seemingly unaware that that's what every writer in Nashville hopes to do. A four octave range separates her, as does her guitar playing. Nick isn't Vince Gill, but she can work the full neck, play all the chords and fingerpick with poise. This confidence with her instrument opens holes for her husky voice to fill. But she also leaves room for notes to linger. A common mistake by young artists is to fill every square inch with noise. Nick's songs breathe.
No one in the Atlanta-area native's family is musical, unless you include a father that would sit her down to really study the cover songs she performed from a young age. Still, her parents were more than passively supportive — they became de facto managers, learning how to trust and who to stay clear of in the area, and greasing her road to Nashville. No one asked what college she planned to attend after she left high school. Everyone knew Nick intended to pursue country music in Nashville.
I think your guitar playing on stage is equally as important as your vocals on stage, especially if you’re going to be a singer-songwriter.
And she has. Her songwriting calendar is filling up faster than ever. Regular slots on the Song Suffragettes stage help, and so did competing to become the Nash Next artist, a contest ultimately won by Breaking Southwest. Here you'll find a full list of her recorded music and likely be impressed with the professional quality.
"Miles Away" is another song that stings. Originally written as a getting-over-you song, Nick turned it into a military tribute on Memorial Day. Just two days earlier she found herself at a national cemetery in Culpeper, Va. Thoughts of her grandfathers (both war veterans) and everyone fighting for her freedom today overcame her during this performance.
Jason Afable and Eric Mallon helped her write the song. “We were basically thinking of when you’re trying to run away from heartbreak," she says recalling their day in the writing room. A girl is running from a breakup in California, trying to get "Miles Away" even though everything she sees reminds her of him.
“We thought of ‘Missing You’ as the place that she’s leaving.”
"There's a highway that I ain't found / Where your memory won't bring me down / Somewhere east of the Mississippi, south of the Mason Dixon / Just outside of nothing left to lose / Miles away from missing you," she sings.
Nick brings humble confidence to the stage. She'll blush a little recalling the seven-page spread a hometown magazine did on her (“I guess people in my hometown think I’m kinda famous, right? (laughs) Cause I live here!") but knows the time and effort it took to get there. Some find her intimidating, which she finds confusing.
“Apparently I’m intimidating to little boys," she jokes after an inconclusive discussion about if those that are bold enough to say they don't like her for this reason are really just trying to date her. It'd be a modern day equivalent of hair pulling in the school yard.
“I’ve been told this a lot by my friends and other guys I hang out with, because I hang out with a lot of dudes. I’m not a mean person … it’s just I’m very strong-willed and I think a lot of times when females don’t act like they’re dumb or don’t understand something, guys think that’s just weird.”
So far, no one in the music industry has been put off by her focus, which may speak to advancements made in the #LetTheGirlsPlay movement. Women are slowly encouraged to be strong, independent and thoughtful, maybe even opinionated! The business side of the music business still makes Nick's palms sweat, but now she has a team behind her. The music has never been the issue.
Look for Nick at the CMA Closeup Stage during CMA Music Fest (June 12) and at the Song Suffragettes' second anniversary show at the Listening Room on June 13.