A love for stage

christal austin speaks about extensive experience in entertainment industry

Polished vocals and raw soul emanate from the stage whenever Christal Austin takes to the mic.

Fresh off her performance at the Love, Poetry and Song concert at Ilaro Court, Christal remains humble despite her many accomplishments as a singer.

“I was first introduced to the speech-level singing technique at age 14 by my first vocal trainer, Rodney Small.”

This training opened up the magical world of entertainment to this young woman who grew up in Haynesville, St. James.

“As a teenager I entered several competitions – Ms. Holetown, Communifesta, Ms. Barbados Queen of the World – taking advantage of any meaningful opportunity available. I just wanted to sing!”

By the age of 20 she had a full-time job in a hotel band; had recorded at Barbados’ renowned Underground, Monstapiece and Blue Wave studios; had won the UWI Carnival Queen Pageant; and was the winner of the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Contest (2001). The latter led to her guest appearance at the final of the Grenada National Talent Search Contest the following year.

In 2003 she culminated five years on the hotel circuit and commenced her life as a poet, becoming a NIFCA/ UNESCO award winner in 2004 and launching her self-published poetic anthology, Igniting the Fire Within in 2005 under her signature brand, Lyrical Lava.

“Being backed by C4 and doing jazz interpretations of my poems was epic! It opened my appetite for jazz and spoken-word,” she said.

In the years that followed Christal virtually disappeared from the music scene.

“I took a long break when my son was born in 2006 but that love for the stage never left me.”

During her hiatus she dabbled in several areas of the entertainment sector. She did background vocals for Ria Borman, Ian Alleyne and Tomorrow’s Children calypso tent; served as master of ceremonies during the Richard Stoute Over 21 Contest; worked as stage manager during Jamaican gospel artiste, Ryan Mark’s concert; served as chief judge during the National Cheerleading Competition; and worked as public relations manager for Barbados Gospelfest.

She also made a few Broadway appearances in local private productions; took piano lessons; and completed courses in e-commerce and intellectual property law with World Intellectual Property Organisation.

“I couldn’t stay away fom entertainment. It is a part of my DNA! People often wonder how I balance motherhood, music and my day job but it is just who I am – grace under pressure.”

The timing was right in 2011 for her return to the spotlight and, as if she was never been gone, her musical calendar filled with a slew of brand name performances including every edition of Love, Poetry and Song to date; as the opening act for the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Contest; and the Honey Jam Barbados showcase in which she emerged as the top scorer.

“The one thing I learned during Honey Jam Barbados is that you have to hustle to make it. No one is going to hand success to you on a platter. You have to work hard to make it in this industry.”

Since then she as been doing exactly that. She closed the year at Sandy Lane’s New Year’s Eve party with fellow Honey Jam alum, Betty Griffith; had her own show at Naniki, which opened up the opportunity for her to travel to Martinique’s jazz festival.

A self-diagnosed social media junkie, Christal can be found online at a Facebook page in her name and can be found on Twitter, @lyricallava.

At present she is focussed on songwriting for Crop-Over 2013, as well as pop tracks, where she is most at home.

“I love performing and I love writing but songwriting at this level is a new journey for me that requires me to draw on all I have learnt but I’m really excited about this new phase!”

With a passion for R&B, jazz and a flair for soca, multiple skills in several aspects of the industry, the options available to Christal are vast. If there is one thing that we can be sure of, Christal will continue to be a class act.

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