When I first heard the golden pipes of Chrisette Michele and featured her on Afrobella – she was in the middle of a natural hair transition. Since being signed to a record label and thrust into the spotlight, fans have seen Chrisette’s hair go from short and coily to long and sleek, depending on what video she’s in or what appearance she’s making.
So when I saw photos of Chrisette looking stunning with her hair shorn short, I knew I had to reach out to her to find out exactly what inspired her to make the switch back to natural. Lucky me – Chrisette remains real and sweet and thanks to Twitter — where she tweets as @epiphanygirl, accessible to fans like me!
Afrobella: SO as you know I write about hair and beauty, and from day one I took notice of you because you started out natural – or at least with a natural texture, right? Then switched to relaxed hairstyles. Can you tell me about your hair journey from the days before you became signed to a label?
Chrisette: Wow, well I’ve always been seated right next to my mom at the salon once a week. She gave me freedom to experiment with styles and ideas from maybe 12. I was always playing in my hair and loved to re-invent myself often. One thing I was never afraid to do was chop my hair off to mimic the cool styles I’d seen in magazines or invented myself. Monica was always fun to play around with in the 90’s especially. I think she is incredibly stylish. I also would grow my relaxer out maybe every 3 years and BC it all off for an afro. Growing up in a mixed school (8 black kids), my hair was fun for attention from my friends who all had beautiful hair. My “click” was mixed with a Puerto Rican, a mixed girl with hair DOWN HER BACK and beautifully tightly curled, a girl from Africa and the most beautiful white porcelain like girl from Spain… and me! I was the president of the African American club in High School and we all participated and celebrated each others culture, beauty and differences. I kept this free attitude with my heart and hair all my life… but my hair care regimen was ALWAYS serious no matter the style. Around 18 me n my BFF colored our hair… mine was strawberry red!!! LOVED it! I was able to keep it soft and silky because it was a simple wrap style (like Faith Evans at the time so there wasn’t much heat or hairspray. I chopped it down to my kinky roots shortly after again and wore a lil TWA sometimes braiding it up, and playing with different hair choices. College was a challenge for my hair. I was super busy… I was introduced to something I thought I’d never ever do… the weave. My manager at the time suggested it as an easy alternative to my ritualistic hair regimens.
It was fun. I missed my naps though… I was in college and did the BC a year or so later and walked into Def Jam and got a record deal! It was my fro, a Bob Marley track jacket, ripped jeans and an audition of “Golden” and this song called “ A Day In Your Life” both of which I had written and was able to play on the piano.
Afrobella: Is there pressure in the industry on female artists of color to conform to a certain standard of beauty?
Chrisette: There’s definitely pressure… I try not to admit it sometimes because I hate the appearance of insecurity. The honest truth is you wonder if you’ll get the same attention if you don’t look like every one else. I’ve been able to tear down the issue of curvy girls in the industry. I’ve been able to have 2 successful albums and Grammy attention as well as an award, Billboard chart attention and television, and magazine attention. There’s still more work and stereo types to be smacked down, but with grace and honesty and an understanding tongue, I believe that people will begin to see beauty comes in many more forms then what we expose to the public. I am beautiful and I believe that there are many beautiful women to which I can give a voice.
Afrobella: Talk to me about the decision you’ve made recently. I saw photos of you with your hair cut really really short, but you’re wearing a hat. Did you shave your head, or is this a big chop, to start afresh with your natural hair texture? What inspired you to go natural again?
Chrisette: My hair and I had a really bad argument. She was being sprayed with alcohol and burnt with irons… She was being over processed and yanked and pulled by weave strings and suffocated by glue. She told me if I didn’t straighten up and fly right that she was leaving. I was out on tour, and day after day of this torturous regimen I began to feel like I was hurting myself. I wasn’t being fair to my body. I was ingesting and supporting harsh products and literally ruining myself beginning with my hair. I told my band and tour family that when we all landed home in 6 weeks I would apologize to myself and begin a new relationship with myself beginning with my hair. The boys took me to their favorite barber Manny over in Sherman Oaks and applauded my decision to be honest with myself and showcase what I believe is beautiful. I’m proud of myself. I know that there is a place for my beauty in this world and I plan to celebrate who I am, beginning with my roots. I had about a 1/2” of new growth but I wanted to go lower like my mothers hair as well as my make-up artists hair. The boys told the barber “She wants a Number 2 clipper!!! And fade it out on the edges!!! No Hard Line!!!” and I said “No shape me up some” I don’t know if I’ll do that next time I was so relieved to hear him say $25 bux I gave him this tip which now that I think about it wasn’t the standard 20%. But you girls know our styles run past the HUNDREDS!! This was a steal!
Afrobella: Tell me what kind of reaction you’ve been getting from people since you made the decision. I saw some negative comments on some blogs and I was wondering how that made you feel. Part of being natural is deflecting that negativity, so I want to know – what do you have to say to the naysayers?
Chrisette: I didn’t check for any negativity although, God bless my darling father, he was so upset. My ears are very cocky. They only listen to what they like to hear. Everything else just sounds like a drum beat… and I dance to them. Smiling. I don’t do a lot of talking. I laugh often. I say most things with my actions. I must say though, who ever took pictures, didn’t have permission and if I must say so, I think it was quite rude. *does the wop, bops head, moonwalks over to the next question*
Afrobella: What are your hopes for natural hair in the future?
Chrisette: Well for my natural hair, I wanna be as fly as my cousin Christine who thinks I’m cool but she is defnitely super fly. Her kinks are all over the place and I adore them. As a community, I’d like to see natural hair in mainstream media. Kelis did it, Lauryn Hill did it, Maxwell, Tracy Ellis Ross, Corrine Bailey Rae, Solange, Tyra Banks, Beyonce, Laura Izabor, Ledisi, India.Arie, Jill, Janet, Rihanna… There’s a very special beauty that only we own. We see every other hair texture represented very well except ours and it breaks my heart. I’m excited to be a part of the natural girls. It’s my intention to be this way for a while.
Afrobella: Where can your fans see you next – are you touring for the summer? What’s coming up next for your music?
Chrisette: I just finished a most wonderful tour around the country with so many sold out dates and even more beautiful people. I must say thank you to every one who joined me and my band New Genesis. I’ll be performing at Essence Fest this July and I’m heading into the studio to record my 3rd album much of which will be produced and written by my production and writing team MWI. I feel amazingly blessed to still be here. Christ has been incredibly kind and I’m greatful.
You can check out thisischrisettemichele.com for more about my BC where the video of me at the barber is (o dear, don’t laugh too hard!) Also follow me on twitter I am @epiphanygirl there. You can check the Defjam.com website as well.
I must say that I am so gratetful to Afrobella for being ever so kind towards me for so long. I’m truly grateful. God bless you.
PS: Tell my sisters I said “smile!!!!! at!!!!! each!!!!! other!!!!!! often!!!!!”
Chrisette thank you so much for staying real and sincere and being the inspiration that you are! You know Afrobellas everywhere are in your corner and we love your message and everything you do!!
Chrisette also sent a poem that is just beyond beautiful.
For Freedom Not For Beauty
There’s a beauty that lives so deep inside each of us.
There’s a fickle eye that doesn’t believe anything it sees.
There’s a benefit in love that erases all doubt and believes good intentions.
There’s an ear that isn’t free enough to give the honest man the benefit of the doubt cluttered by lies not-mentioned.
Since when is creativity subject to criticism?
When is honesty subject to a jury of fears who wouldn’t believe rain if it fell, or sun if it shined?
Sometimes a flower grows when no ones watching.
Sometimes a bird sings and no one hears.
There’s a meadow no one runs on and a cloud no one names.
And what would the sky be with out the sun?
What would the earth be with out its rose?
They’d still be the sky and the Earth.
So perhaps there is a peace in becoming.
Perhaps the meaning is in the experience and not the sight.
Maybe a flower grows because it suffocates under ground.
Whether or not she is always noticed, beauty must become.
She doesn’t look for an eye.
She doesn’t listen for a voice.
She just becomes,
For Freedom Not For Beauty
Chrisette remains one of the most accessible, sweet celebrities in the game. She also gave an interview to Curly Nikki, so click there for even more natural hair love.
Thank you again, Chrisette – you know afrobella readers love you and we continue to support you on your journey!!