Sunny: So Kristin, tell us a little about yourself. Anything that you feel comfortable sharing.
Kristin F: I live in Florida now but am originally from Nashville, TN. I’ve been in Florida since 2004 and now have a husband and 2 daughters. It was just me when I moved here. Music and photography are two of my favorite things.
Before COVID, I went to concerts all the time. I also work in live entertainment, so concerts are both my job and my pastime. I do freelance photography as well.
While I was in Nashville, I aspired to be a professional singer. That never happened, but I do still sing at various functions from time to time when the opportunity arises.
Sunny: What is your earliest memory of listening to country music?
Kristin: I remember listening to Kenny Rogers in particular when I was very young, probably elementary school age. Those old songs of his from the late ‘70s/early ‘80s are still some of my favorites.
Sunny: Which country artist has made an impact on you the most and why?
Kristin: If I have to pick just one, my mind first goes to Shania Twain. It wasn’t until she caught my eye on an awards show in the ‘90s that I actually started to identify myself as a country fan. I was blown away by her and just had to see what she was all about.
I loved her spunk, beauty, and rock & roll attitude. That was a side of country I’d never seen before, and it intrigued me. That led me to listening to other country artists and to focusing more on singing and writing country myself where I’d previously considered myself more of a pop or R&B singer.
Now, there’s pretty much a twang in everything I sing, no matter the genre! I guess you could say I found my country and never let it go.
Sunny: If you could wave a magic wand, what is the first thing that you would change about the country music industry?
Kristin: I’ve long been frustrated that it wasn’t more inclusive. That’s slowly starting to change, but I’m old enough to remember living in Nashville and seeing so many artists who were supposedly “the next big thing” get swept aside because it got out that they were gay.
I can also not count the times I’ve been out to sing somewhere and the people in the audience were visibly surprised by my (country) song choices. Once they hear me sing they seem impressed, but it shouldn’t really be that shocking to hear a Black girl nail a country song.
As far as we’ve come, I see some of the rude remarks and hate that artists like Mickey Guyton get online now, and it’s sad. For a while, I expected to be that breakthrough artist that she is, and when I see all that, it breaks my heart. It could’ve just as easily been me having to deal with all that. It shouldn’t be anyone.
Let us sing what we want to sing, and play Black country artists and gay country artists on the radio. Let the talent speak for itself.
Sunny: Aside from country music, what are your other favorite genres?
Kristin: Besides country, I listen mostly to pop and rock music, especially from the ʼ80s and ‘90s. At the risk of sounding old: I am not much of a fan of a lot of today’s new music, except for new country. Of course, there are a few exceptions to that rule.
Sunny: What country artist collaboration would you love to hear that hasn’t been done yet?
Kristin: I’m pretty crazy about Jon Pardi, so I’d love to see him pair up with some of my other faves like Carrie Underwood and Kelsea Ballerini.
Even a duet between Carrie and Kelsea would be awesome. Carrie and Kelsea have sung together on the Opry before, but to my knowledge, they’ve never recorded together.
Sunny: Which country artist’s concert have you attended that still stays on your mind?
Kristin: I’ve been to more concerts than I can remember, so that’s a hard question. Thinking of more recent years, I’d say one that I really loved was getting to see Jimmie Allen at Disney World’s EPCOT.
Their concerts are pretty intimate, and I’m able to sit close and get great photos. When I saw Jimmie, he sounded even better than the records, and at one point, he came off the stage and stood right next to me.
Before I knew it, we were actually hugging! Heʼs a great hugger AND a great singer.
Sunny: As a Black country music fan, what do you think the industry could do to be
Kristin: As I’ve already touched upon, radio airplay is huge. Fans like myself can share new artists online as much as we want, but the truth of the matter is most people don’t care unless it’s an artist they already know.
Once they hear them on the radio or see them on the awards shows, Opry, or CMT, it gets them the exposure they need. Executives love to say there’s no market for non-traditional artists, but that’s a lie they tell themselves to make themselves feel better, in my opinion. People can’t request or buy what they don’t know about.
Sunny: Please tell us your top 10 all time favorite country songs!
Kristin: Again, so hard to do. But here are 10 that I love, without thinking about it too much.
“Home Ainʼt Where His Heart Is” – Shania Twain
“She Believes in Me” – Kenny Rogers
“Iʼm Not Supposed to Love You Anymore” – Bryan White
“Love Without You” – Darius Rucker w/Sheryl Crow
“Ainʼt Always the Cowboy” – Jon Pardi
“Real Live Woman” – Trisha Yearwood
“Stand By Your Man” – Tammy Wynette
“Itʼs Not Just Me” – Rascal Flatts
“Like We Never Loved At All” – Faith Hill w/Tim McGraw
“Rainy Season” – Hunter Hayes