Meet Joy Crookes, the cat lover and Brit Award nominated singer. Crookes has a modern-day Shakespeare flare to her music focusing on the general human experience. Though she started out in the neo-soul and jazz with a funky vibe her music style has shifted. However, her lyrics have and always will tackle real topics. In an interview with Mark Savage of bbc.com, he noted the unusual combination style of her real-world lyrics to pop.
She said of herself, “I think I’m just interested in people,” says the 23-year-old. “I’m interested in how we work. And because of that, I talk to a lot of people. Thus people, the every-day common human experience she is emerged in (in the bustling city of London) shapes her music and lyrics. She said of her unusual topic style combined with pop, “But that’s what real life is like. It’s a genuine reflection of being a human being. In order to find strength, in order to feel powerful, you have to address survival, you have to address the stuff that you’ve gone through in order to be that person.”
In the music industry of the UK, she is compared to the late Amy Whinehouse. “Her music dwells in life’s grey areas – love affairs that don’t quite click; inter-generational trauma; the contradictions of online activism; the messy business of family relationships” (bbc.com) “These are deep, soulful songs shot through with hard-earned wisdom, and curiosity about her surroundings.” But like most people, her music and life have been a journey of discovery.
Courage to Own Her Path
At 22 years-old, the year prior, she spoke out about the shift she wanted to take in her music from the alternative to pop. Like many other artists such as Cyanca in the US, she didn’t want her music, her life, her style being limited or defined by others. She pushed back to being boxed into one genre of music. Once identified as an alternative artist (a style she came to realize was a genre having deep roots in the BIPOC community), she broke free.
She confessed, “I think it’s really hard for people to call me pop.…[But, my] songs are memorable: I like having hooks, I like catchy choruses.” She went on to explain why she wanted to shift. “[Pop] isn’t attached to a culture or a background, which I’m not from,” whereas often times jazz is. She didn’t want to take up the space she felt owed to others. So, she shifted and now makes pop.
Joy Crookes’ Wisdom Applied
As an outsider looking in on her thought process, I believe her shift speaks to part of the inclusion problem we humans have created. It doesn’t matter where we fit in or what we look like, by not taking the time to get to know a person before we size them up people of all races, color, and religion get pigeon-holed. I’m not talking about the five-minute conversation we all learn in foreign language classes either. I mean really get to know a person and what is important to them. Jenna Mahale (from i-d.vice.com) reported, “Joy’s heritage, a mix of Irish, Bengali and Bangladeshi, is a large part of her life. But it has at times made her feel pigeonholed in a kind of global ambassador role she never asked for.”
“Our human compassion binds us the one to [another]—not in pity of patronizing, but as human beings who have learned how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”~Nelson Mandela
Crookes, the Artivist
Just like the movement Black Lives Matter (BLM) is trying to make people aware of the injustices many people in the BIPOC community face, as an ex-Mormon, middle class, white female, so many people pigeonhole me in a place of privilege without understanding anything about my world, my experiences, and my trauma. As Crookes so eloquently stated, real-life is survival, overcoming injustice no matter where you are from. And we as a people, as a human race, should slow down and listen to one another. Look at what is going on and ask, don’t assume.
Joy hit the nail on the head. The human experience on the heart level isn’t really all that different for people around the world. Even those lacking the basic human needs (food, water, & shelter) still yearn for love, acceptance, respect, and compassion. We all have needs, hurts, wants, suffering. If we are truly going to help others, we need to know them. We should let go of our fears and be vulnerable. To be human is to suffer. To be inclusive and kind, takes courage. It is the courage our world needs. Thank you, Joy Crookes for your wisdom and your example. Check her, debut album, Skin and other songs out on Apple music, Spotify, Pandora Music, iHeart Radio, or YouTube.