"Being my authentic self -- that is, openly gay -- frees me to be more creative; it allows me to write and sing about things other than love and parties. I believe I have a duty to be visible."
These sentiments sailed from the heart and soul of the openly gay, androgynous African-American musician Crisean (pronounced "Cris-Shawn"), who was a recent guest on The WOE Show, my radio program which airs Sunday nights, 9 p.m. EST on PapiChuloRADIO.com. Originally from Baltimore, the performer just made the move to NYC to embark on the next phase of his burgeoning career.
"An independent artist with an infusion of Pop, Dance and Soul/R&B, Crisean, 26 (now 27), had been singing Disney songs around the house and putting on shows for family members since the age of 8. He also dabbled in writing lyrics and creating topics for songs," according to a BaltimoreOUTloud profile some months ago.
"In 2006 Crisean, whose actual name is Christopher Snowden, started penning songs for a potential debut studio album. Having no previous formal training, Crisean studied music at Baltimore City Community College. He has been inspired by such contemporary artists as Beyonce, Britney Spears and Usher. "'That's when I fell in love with Soul Music and legendary icons such as Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Elvis Presley'," he explains.
"Crisean has taken an important large step in his career with the release by CMS Records of his album Sound Approved -- EP. Having written and produced every track, the songs convey the journey through Crisean's life, touching upon the topics of love, self-empowerment and acceptance."
The following conversation is part of The WOE Show interview with the innovative Crisean, whom I found to be rather engaging and reflective.
EVANS: Crisean, what was your coming out process like?
CRISEAN: For a long time, I'd just basically lived how I wanted; I just didn't tell my mother that I liked guys. Then one day, my mother was telling me about a co-worker's daughter whom she was planning to hook me up with. So, I had to reveal my true sexual orientation. After I told her, I went out to dinner. When I came home, I found her in disbelieve! She asked how she could have two gay sons, what did she do to "cause" it, and how did she go so wrong. I told her that she did nothing wrong, and emphasized that she had been blessed. I ended with, "It's just life."
I'm having to overcome the fact that I'm feminine and androgynous, and that people have something negative to say about it. However, I'm handling it much better.
EVANS: Crisean, please expound on what I asked you earlier: Does being your authentic self--openly gay -- free you to be more creative? Isn't it psychologically and emotionally draining when you're covering up your true sexual orientation?
CRISEAN: Yes, being your authentic self definitely frees you to be more creative. It truly is an emotional and psychological drain and burden hiding who you really are. It was such vindication for me that I could actually be the artist I always knew I could be. I believe that I have a duty to be visible. Now, concealing things just won't work.
EVANS: Why the recent move to "The Big Apple," New York City?
CRISEAN: New York City has always been my home in my heart! I can't even remember the first time I fell in love with this city. The move to New York was an urgent one. I'm aggressively pursuing my dream, which is something that I could not do in Baltimore. So, why not live my dream...and my life?
EVANS: Crisean, what advice do you have for young people trying to break into the music business--particularly those who are LGBTQ?
CRISEAN: I will tell them the truth: that there is no lane for us, and they will have to be a part of a bridge that is not yet finished. It will take time, and it will be hard! There are so many gay musicians and artists out there who are talented and driven, who inspire me each and every day. I feel as gay people, we allow society to tell us what we can and cannot do. Hopefully, I can reach such heights that young and old gay people alike can say, "It's possible because Crisean did it."
You can follow Crisean at www.facebook.com/criseanmusic, www.youtube.com/unobtainablecrisean and www.twitter.com/criseanofficial.