Ask anyone in the know about the new generation of social justice music-makers and they will mention Crys Matthews, a powerful lyricist whose songs of compassionate dissent reflect her lived experience as what she lightheartedly calls “the poster-child for intersectionality.”
In her TedTalk about difficult conversations called "Sing, Don't Shout—An Alternative Approach" Matthews speaks about being born and raised in a small town in southeastern North Carolina by an A.M.E. preacher and how she witnessed the power of music from an early age. A former drum major and classically trained clarinetist turned folk singer, Matthews is using her music to answer Dr. Martin Luther King's call to be "a drum major for justice." She is singing out in the hopes of inspiring listeners to have more of those difficult conversations. "Now is the time for a revolutionary love," Matthews says, "a love so profound that it bankrupts organizations who would put their profits before the safety of our children and our citizens, builds bridges to unite us instead of walls to divide us, and changes hearts instead of minds."
A prolific lyricist and composer, Matthews has found inspiration in her surroundings, from driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the compelling and heart-breaking love story of Richard and Mildred Loving. Thoughtful, realistic, and emotional, Matthews’ songs speak to the voice of our generation and remind us why music indeed soothes the soul.
Matthews blends Americana, folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass, and funk into a bold, complex performance steeped in traditional melodies and punctuated by honest, original lyrics. Having been compared to everyone from Toshi Reagon to Tracy Chapman to Ruthie Foster, Matthews’ eclectic infusion of genres and songwriting won her the grand prize at the NewSong Music and Performance finals at Lincoln Center in 2017. Her newest project, called These Old Hands, is being released under the NewSong label summer 2019.