New York's Krissy Krissy brings her alternative sound to South Side's The Smiling Moose

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As far as Krissy Krissy is concerned, coming to perform in Pittsburgh this weekend is part of a big dream coming true.

But, as Miss Krissy points out, dreams are relative. They come in all shapes and sizes and vary from person to person.

"I don't come from much," said Miss Krissy, a 25-year-old Brooklyn native who still lives with her mother. "I used to dream about Barbies. I used to dream about getting a new pair of sneakers for Christmas. That was dreaming big for me. I would dream about getting cable. When we did, I was like, 'Yes, I can finally talk with my classmates about the channels that they're watching.' So my perspective differs from others.

"Getting my own house is a big dream of mine. Getting my mom her own apartment. Every little thing that happens is a dream come true."

It's no coincidence that the first single from her debut album was "Dream."

Miss Krissy was born Krislyn Rivera, the fifth of six children raised in the working-class neighborhood of Bushwick. Her father was a pastor for a Pentecostal Church, where he played guitar and sang, and there was music all around. Miss Krissy, however, was kicked out of the choir and the church for kissing a girl at the age of 15. Still, she hung on to her guitar and her dream. She was "discovered" singing in a karaoke bar and has hooked up with a manager and a musicians that are helping her reach her goals.

"I was stuck writing in New York and I just had to get out," she said. "I had to get into another environment. I got on a bus and went to Philadelphia and met some other writers. We just stayed in a room and pulled the curtains down until something came out of it."

She returned to New York with songs that, after six weeks of studio work, would become her first EP. That led to spot dates performing in different parts of the country.

Only recently, her manager told her he had lined up her first major city-to-city tour, opening for Hunter Valentine.

"It's everything I imagined," Miss Krissy said. "I still have to figure out places to sleep and keep my manager awake while he drives. It's a grind. There's lots of hard work in packing up the show and setting up the show and doing the show, but it's amazing. It's truly a blessing."

Her music style has been an evolution.

"Once my manager and I started creating music, the direction of songs, we were just going to throw it out there and see if it stuck," she said. "And whatever would stick, that's what we would gravitate to. We were trying things out. I would do R&B, Pink, all these different genres of music. It took a while to figure out this pop-hipsteresque-hiphop music thing was working. So R&B is too much for me. But once we settled on a lane, all these doors started opening."

Her songs, "based on real-life experiences," cover a range of emotions. One of her songs, the title track from her album "Above All," was written for her father. She was able to play it for him while he lay dying in a hospital bed. He couldn't speak, she said, but he blinked his approval and appreciation.

"There's a story behind every song," Miss Krissy said. "You perform the song so much it can become second nature. But then you take a breath and listen to the production and read what people write about it. It's pretty awesome.

"I'm with a band of talented musicians, They bring life to every song. It's pretty amazing what a live band can do. And a lot of people are telling me they love the CD, but they love hearing it live even more.

"Yesterday I was the opening act, and I performed, and these two women came up to me and said, 'We're done. We just came to see you sing.' So people kind of know who I am. This little chick from Brooklyn is getting recognized in all these different places. It's been my dream and it's happening."

How is the dream fulfilled?

"I don't know what tomorrow holds. But I'm excited," she said. "My goal is to bring a Grammy back home to Bushwick. And say, 'Hey, Mom, we did it!' And I know that when you put in the work, the rewards will come."

Krissy Krissy opens for Hunter Valentine at 6 p.m. Saturday at The Smiling Moose, 1306 E. Carson St. on the South Side. There is a $12 cover.

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Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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