Crystal is in the process of developing an outline and has established a CD concept with specific songs and song titles. Songs have been completed and has begun the recording process with mentor Vong Lee.
My mission as the co-director of the first ever known Hmong-interest a cappella group is to create a more inclusive a cappella and music community – advancing access to music for marginalized and underprivileged communities, while promoting the Hmong culture and language. Seeing the reaction from audience members when they hear a cappella for the first time is a unique and magical experience. That moment not only motivates me to continue the work that I do, but validates my belief that music can influence and unite people in ways that nothing else can.
I believe it is important to have the ability and tools to express oneself creatively because it is a chance to explore non-traditional ways to affect change. I have seen music and art change people, change whole communities, but not without a constant support system. I express myself creatively in the hope that my work can become a source of support for others who are also looking for ways to make the world a better place.
What motivates me as an artist and music educator is the ability to give back to my community in innovative and creative ways. As an artist I feel that I am responsible to share with the world the talents, training, and skills I have been given. As a music educator I see the issues of access and privilege that exists in the world of music and the arts and fight to ensure that every person, no matter their background or socio-economic status, has the chance to learn and grow through music.
As an artist volunteering for a non-profit organization, the most obvious struggle is funding. However, that isn’t the most relevant struggle – being an artist always offers opportunities to think outside the box and resourceful. The most relevant struggle that my group struggles with is community support and engagement. When my sister and began this group in 2014 through the Center for Hmong Arts & Talent, we were fairly new to the state of Minnesota, so reaching out to the right people and places for marketing or gig opportunities was, and still is, a constant barrier we face. In addition to that, we constantly find ourselves wrestling our own cost and worth as a group and find it
What my members and I hope for the most is to be able to showcase our talent and novelty to the communities that we live in and are surrounded by. I know that having more opportunities to show the Twin Cities what we can do will make us stronger as a group and help us build stronger ties to community members and leaders. I also believe that if our group had the training to think in a more business mindset when it comes to planning, programming, and communications, along with relevant knowledge of the technology we can use to market ourselves, we would be much more efficient and effective with our time, energy, and funding.