She’s bold…she’s confidant….she’s beautiful…and she hands down possess one of the best voices in country music. Im talking about Krystal Keith, the daughter of country superstar Toby Keith. Krystal released her debut album just 3 weeks ago and “Whiskey and Lace” is simply one of the best albums I’ve heard. Every song sounds different. The range includes many sub genres that are present in country music today each highlighting her voice in a unique way. Her voice, boasting strong soulful tones throughout, perfectly morphs to a bluesy, raspy or vibrato as the song allows. I was honored to spend some time talking to Krystal yesterday. Here are some highlights:
Did you always know you would be a musician? When did you realize you might really have a shot at this?
“I was always singing around the house…always. My parents realized when I was 3 years old that I had a unique passion for music. I never thought for a minute I would do anything else. I thought this was a normal job and didn’t realize how out of the norm it was until I was much older. I took a career class in high school where we had to choose a career and job shadow someone. I remember telling the teacher that she wouldn’t have anyone for me to shadow because I was going to be a singer. The students laughed and I didn’t get it. It was out of the ordinary but I had no doubt I would end up here.”
This may be an obvious question in your case but…who inspired you musically?
“I was inspired by various friends and family along the way but mostly my dad. He has been there for me every step of the way. His mother and grandmother were both singers so I am a 4th generation singer and 2nd generation songwriter. Outside of my family I would say I have always looked up to Patsy Cline. She is my absolute favorite. I also relate to Loretta Lynn, Martina McBride and Miranda Lambert.”
What do you wish someone had told you about the music business?
“I completely grew up in it. Although my dad tried to keep family and work separate I wanted to know more and more. I would go on the road with him and soak it all in. I would sit and observe everyone in the crew and learned the performance and production side really well. I would try to figure out everyones role and why they were important to the tour. I would go with my dad to the studio too. Everyone thought it was so boring but I took it all in, for hours on end.”
“During college I had to choose an internship for credit so I picked my dads label, Show Dog-Universal. Although my dad told the employees to treat me as they would anyone else they didn’t expect much from me at all. Instead I wanted to learn everything and was extremely hardworking. My dad got lots of calls expressing how surprised they were at my work ethic.”
In retrospect, are you glad your parents made you finish college first?
Very much so. Had I walked into this industry at 18 years old, the end result wouldn’t be as good. You learn who you are in college, gain valuable life experience, and learn about different cultures and worlds. Had I come straight to music I would have been a Taylor Swift without the amazing songwriting. She has always been able to write beautifully and connect with a younger audience. I gained business knowledge in college and life experiences that are written into my songs.
Your Dad is active in every part of your career. Has he ever brought you something you didn’t like?
“He is an incredible songwriter and I have liked everything. We are pretty similar and if I didn’t like something I would tell him. One time he brought a song to me that he wrote. I was so excited to cut it. A few months later I went to visit him in the studio and he was cutting the vocals for that song. I was literally jumping up and down so he could see me over the barrier. When I got his attention he just shrugged his shoulders, chuckled and said “sorry”. (the song was “I Need to Hear a Country Song” which was on his Clancy’s Tavern album)
How has life changed since releasing your debut album “Whiskey and Lace”?
Krystal laughs and then says “I get a lot more text messages. Everyone I have ever met has text me and said they heard my song, see my album in a store and so on. I have been living this for so long, have been looking at the artwork, singing the songs. Now its so much fun getting the reaction and being able to share it with the world. My favorite part is when people notice how much variety went into this album. That’s what I wanted to get across and its fun when they are excited about it along with me.”
What is your favorite album of all time and favorite that is out now?
“My all time favorite is Patsy Clines Greatest Hits. Now”...(she laughs and says), “I guess its mine. I also love and support the other guys on the label – Josh Thompson, Joel Crouse, JT Hodges and of course my dad.”
What do you do for fun in your off time?
“I love to fish, go to the beach and travel to see relatives. I also am a big cook and launched a food blog, The Barnyard Bistro, in June.”
Christmas is just days away. Do you have any holiday traditions in your family?
“Every year on Christmas eve we go to my parents house. We celebrate with moms side of the family that night. We bake and decorate cookies with the kids. We always spend the night and wake up Christmas morning with our immediate family. Then my dads side of the family comes over that afternoon. We leave the day after Christmas for a family vacation and have done that for as long as I can remember.”
What is your favorite present you’ve ever received and favorite you have given?
“The first year I was dating my husband he got me my dog. I begged and begged for it and threatened to get it myself. He tied a note on the tree and asked me to come out. I was disappointed at first because I thought it was just an ornament. Then he came out from behind the tree holding the cutest puppy ever. I thought it was a stuffed animal at first.”
“The best present I have ever given was just last year. I spent a month writing and publishing a family cookbook. The recipes went back to my dads great grandparents. I scanned in copies with original handwriting and added personal photos. It literally took me 12-15 hours/day. I took it to a private publisher and only had 7 copies made. It was so special.”
What are you looking forward to most this holiday?
“I’ve been traveling so much since April on the promotional tour for Whiskey and Lace. I am looking forward to just resting and spending time with my family.”
If you are looking for last minute Christmas presents, I would highly suggest picking up “Whiskey and Lace”. With the albums variety there is something in it for everyone. Krystal is going to be fun to watch. She has amazing natural talent and a work ethic like no other. There is no doubt that was born to sing, write, and share this gift with the rest of us.
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