Crystal Bright & Dividing Me: The Ultimate Collaboration. Their Indiegogo campaign clock is ticking fast.

OR, Introduction to Crystal Bright's Music & Why I Hope You'll Join Me in Supporting Her Latest Project:

Crystal Bright playing the saw during a live performance. Photo by Mike Korach.

Some of you haven't yet been introduced to Crystal Bright's music, which makes her perfect for a Creative Inspirations series.  I can't begin to cover the ways Crystal Bright inspires me creatively. Because the Indiegogo campaign launched to help with her upcoming CD release, a stunning, full-circle-esque collaboration with photographic artist, Rusty McDonald, called "The Absolute Elsewhere", is nearly over, I must mention the campaign up front. Please check it out and consider contributing. (The perks are wonderful and well-worth the investment.) If you can't, or this doesn't float your boat, please consider sharing it with others you think will enjoy it. If you want to know more first, read on! I'm sharing more than enough to introduce you to the campaign and to the musician.

Intricately made music, surprising music, and exciting to hear.....even though I was sitting flabbergasted.
— Russ Allred, my music-loving boyfriend, after first hearing Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands

Crystal Bright, whose band is called Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands, has a master's degree in Ethnomusicology, writes original music that's hard to describe (though many try,) often based on fables and folklore, and I've seen her play at least six different instruments, live. It's hard for me to call to mind, just now, another vocalist whose voice can so effortlessly move from octave to octave, and who so holds my attention when she performs. Please check out the music embeds and links here so you can experience just some of the range of talent for yourself. Including a brand new update video I just found, which - turns out - introduces you to some of the instruments we'll hear in the new CD!

My challenge was to contemplate (with the help of Jim Boitnott) Rusty’s photographs and transform my visceral, emotional and intellectual responses into individual musical scores.
— Crystal Bright, concerning "The Absolute Elsewhere" project
Her lyrics and melodies portray the world as a dark and strange (and often funny) place deeply connected to fables and imagination.
...a pleasant kind of bonkers
— Fiona Talkington, BBC Radio 3

Crystal Bright playing the adungu, an African harp that features in many of her live performances. Photo by Mike Korach

There's a story about the time Crystal lost her day job and decided to ignore the fears and move forward as a full-time musician rather than getting another typical job. One of those turning-point narratives. As is often revealed through hindsight in such stories, Crystal's decision to forge this unpredictable path led her into a series of serendipitous meetings with a string of artists working in many mediums. Including photographer, Rusty McDonald. When, after attending one of her performances, he fell in love with her music, Rusty became her go-to photographer for shooting future CD covers, and a solid, artistic-collaboration-based friendship developed.

Her band, The Silver Hands, was born during this early post-job time. The band consists of Diego Diaz, Seth Oldham, Jeremy Denman,  Robbie Link, Aaron Bond, and Brad Spencer.  At live events you'll see any combination of these talented performers, and audience members are sometimes invited on stage to help out with rhythm. The gypsy-esque, carnival-infused, ethereal fable-eliciting... utterly uncategorizable music is certainly centered around Crystal's voice and lyrics. But the sound fans have come to love aren't possible without the skill and musicianship of The Silver Hands to round out the experience.

Crystal Bright playing the accordion and singing in a live performance. Photo by Mike Korach

Among the experiences that solidified Crystal's love for collaboration with such a range of artists was Illuminating and Transcending the Shadow: A Multimedia Performance Art Production which debuted in 2010 and was reprised during the 2012 Greensboro Fringe Festival. Crystal reflects on that vital time in her artistic journey, when she was able to pull from her resources and work with such an array of people, many of whom had been in creative slumps and were afterward able to resume making art. Crystal told me, "Art does that: brings people together and allows them to express themselves in ways they aren't able to do in their 'normal' lives."  Rusty was involved in that project, and it seems, upon hearing of their friendship's evolution, that it was only a matter of time before Crystal would write songs inspired by his images.

"The Absolute Elsewhere" has been in the works for more than a year.

As we move forward, I give Rusty the songs to listen to, he hears the music while he works, and he, in turn, creates more photos. It comes full circle.
— Crystal Bright, of Rusty McDonald

Although they're now several states apart, Crystal and Jim Boitnott continue to work together with the help of technology to bridge the distance, even now talking every week during the mixing phase. Jim helped her carefully select which of Rusty's images to use for the songs, and he continued, helping to brainstorm tempo, mood, key... And Rusty? He's remained an integral part, though the images were complete when they were chosen.

The Indiegogo campaign is as unique as the music. Not only do perks include the perhaps more expected copies of CDs, downloads, T-shirts, lyric sheets and stickers, but donors also have the option of receiving photo prints with handwritten lyrics on the back, a chance to join the band onstage at a future event, private music lessons, and art books containing all the photos and lyrics. The list goes on...

It's been a challenging, in-depth, ongoing project that's required a lot of hard work. Our contributions will help bring it these last steps as "The Absolute Elsewhere" is brought to fruition. The campaign ends in just a few days.

I want to go on. And on. There's so much more to tell. But I think instead I'll stop and invite you to enjoy the music. Then help support it.

If you'd like to hear complete songs to get a sense of what the music is like, check out these performance videos, which are just a few of the incredible offerings available:

Crystal Bright on stage with accordion. Photo by Monty Chandler

A Few of the Images by DividingMe Photography:

The Indiegogo Campaign:

The CD Release Event:

Come to the CD Release party at The ArtsCenter, Carrboro, November 22

Come to the CD Release party at The ArtsCenter, Carrboro, November 22

Watch a Performance Video:

Want to Just Listen?