Take equal parts 90s r&b, neo soul, and a little bit of vodka, mix thoroughly, and you’ve got Kristan O., an edgy and raspy-voiced alto who sings straight from the heart. She spent most of her life in the South, and while growing up, was exposed to the incredible blues and jazz scenes of Memphis, TN and New Orleans, LA. Kristan started singing around 8 years old, when her grandma asked her give an impromptu concert in the living room. She sang anything grandma requested from Johnny Mathis’ version of “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” to Xscape’s “Who Can I Run To” and these concerts continued regularly for many years, but it wasn’t until college (ten years later) that Kristan felt confident enough to share her voice with the world.
At the start of her freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania, Kristan auditioned for the a cappella group “The Inspiration” and officially fell in love with performing. As a member of The Inspiration, she had the honor of performing at the National Cathedral in Washington DC, at two of the University of Pennsylvania’s Commencement ceremonies, and for the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Kristan also had the privilege of directing the group in her senior year, and the group had two very successful semesters while under her direction. In addition to singing acapella, Kristan was the lead vocalist in UPenn’s only hip-hop band, Like Mindz. In this group, she was able to further hone her performance skills; she learned to work with MCs, to be a “hype woman”, and to work a rowdy crowd. She also started writing while in the band and recording original music, and through band gigs, she was introduced to many other artists in the Philadelphia music scene. In her last two years of college, Kristan began doing more solo performances and sang at many large campus functions, and she was also a guest act in the Penn Jazz ensemble’s 2008 Fall Show. Without a doubt, Kristan’s college music experiences shaped her musical identity.
Kristan O. is quirky and soulful but more than anything she’s honest, and her lyrics are a testament to this. Unabashedly a hopeless romantic, Kristan loves to write about the joys and pains of love, but she can also write about the fast pace of society or the importance of appreciating the simple things in life. She loves all genres of music and listens to anything from Sarah Vaughn to SWV, but her all time favorite artist has to be the late great Michael Jackson as he is the type of performer, writer, and singer that she aspires to be. Kristan’s uniqueness lies in the purity and rawness of her sound and her lyrics.