Get To Know Crystal Hoyt :
At first glance you might think Crystal Hoyt is just another pretty face in a world full of beautiful singers. But when you get to know this former beauty queen from a tiny farming community in central Louisiana, you will see that she is much more than that. She is a gifted songwriter, a focused and determined artist, a seasoned professional and an overall talent to be reckoned with.
You may recognize Crystal as the striking, power vocalist in the country trio Trailer Choir. Having spent the last three years recording, performing, and touring the country as part of the group, she has shared the stage opening for artists including Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Dierks Bentley, Merle Haggard and many more. During this time has been seen performing the National Anthem for millions live on ABC for the Nascar AAA400 Series at Dover International Speedway, and her voice could be heard on radio stations across the country. You could tune in to see her in music videos aired nationally on CMT and GAC, posing on the red carpet at the ACM Awards in Las Vegas, singing live on the 2010 CMT Music Awards, or living out one of her biggest dreams of singing on the infamous Grand Ole Opry stage.
Crystal recently left Trailer Choir to take some time off from touring to focus on songwriting. She is now taking another big step and launching her solo career. “The past three years have been amazing. Like many that move to Nashville to pursue a dream, I dropped out of college and never looked back. I look at these last few years as ‘getting my degree on the road!’ I got to work with my friends every day and do what I love the most. It was an absolutely incredible learning experience,” she says.
Crystal took the stage for the first time when she was only three in Cheneyville, a tiny farming community in central Louisiana. “No one in my immediate family is musically talented at all. No one really plays an instrument or sings except in the shower. My mom still swears I came out of womb singing,” she shares with a laugh, “People would ask her if I was OK when I was still in a crib because I would make all sorts of noise. She would tell them that I was just singing myself to sleep as usual.”
By the time she was six, with an attention grabbing voice much bigger than her years of experience, she became sought after as regular entertainment in her hometown community. Armed with nothing more than track cassettes, a small amplifier and microphone, she performed at churches, weddings, fairs, festivals, conventions and even nursing homes. She spent long hours after school getting extensive training in performance. She studied dance, theatre, piano and opera.Crystal explains that from an early age, she was always a connoisseur of music, “Whether it was Pop, Rock, Country, Rap, Big Band, Classical, or Rock-a-Billy, as long as there was a beautiful melody, strong lyrics, or a great beat, I could appreciate something in almost any style of music I heard.”
As a teenager, she was introduced to Gospel, R&B, and Jazz. She found that she had a deep appreciation for the “power, grit, and emotion” she felt these styles portrayed. She lists Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Ray Charles as some of her key musical influences. By high school, she found herself returning to her first love, Country Music. She felt a strong connection with artists like Ronnie Milsap, Tammy Wynette, George Strait, Reba McEntire, and Patsy Cline.
By the time she graduated from high school, she was voted by her peers “Most Talented Student” three years in a row, had won or placed in every talent show her town and surrounding areas had to offer, titled in several beauty pageants, gained superior marks in chorus and had begun performing with bands across the state. Crystal explains, “I looked for any excuse to be on a stage. I never really felt like I was like the other kids. The only place where I ever felt comfortable was when I had a microphone in my hand and I was standing in front of a crowd.”
The summer after her high school graduation, Crystal left Cheneyville to attend college in Monroe, Louisiana. Three brief semesters and an attempt at a Broadcasting major only confirmed the answer to the question that she had been asking herself for years, “Should I move to Nashville and pursue a career in music? YES!” she says.
With one month’s rent in her pocket, Crystal left Louisiana to take on Music City. She quickly found a job as a make-up artist to pay the bills and took to the streets of Broadway to discover what Nashville was all about. It didn’t take her long to figure out that she was going to have to do something different to stand out in a town full of people who had moved there with the same dream. She reflects back on her earliest days in Nashville, “You can get by in a small town just being a better singer than most. But it’s different here. Everyone in Nashville can sing, play, and perform. I knew I was going to have to start working to establish myself as an artist. That’s when I started really focusing on songwriting.”
Although she came to appreciate the security being a full-time manger and a trainer for several top beauty lines provided, Crystal struggled with the limited amount of time she had to focus on her music. “I was only able to write or perform every now and then, so I quit my full-time position, and stepped down to part-time so I could get more involved in the music scene,” she continues with a smile.“ I decided that I’d rather be broke and never get any sleep, than look back in 20 years and have regrets. And let me tell you, I was very tired and very broke!”
Once she made this life changing decision, you could see Crystal on stages all over Nashville playing acoustic shows, backing up some of Country’s up and coming artists, or performing her own showcases. It was this same year that she met and formed a friendship with Butter and Big Vinny who would later form Trailer Choir as a duo. The duo suddenly became a trio when Crystal found herself sharing the stage and singing background vocals for a few shows. Just weeks later, the new group was signed to a major label recording contract, and that summer they were on a national tour opening for Toby Keith. She recalls that first year, “We had such a great time, and it was such a great opportunity for all of us. Since it was our first time being on a tour of that level, we all learned so much. That’s an experience I will never take for granted.”
,br>Well into her second year with Trailer Choir, Crystal’s mother Linda was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer. She took almost every opportunity that her schedule allowed to return to her hometown to be with her family and support her mother during her fight with the disease. The news came late in 2010 that her mother had won her battle with breast cancer and had made a full recovery.Unfortunately, enjoying the good news was short lived when just a few months later a routine check-up resulted in scheduling Crystal for surgery to remove a sizable tumor.
She is somber as she describes that time, “I was terrified, because I had no idea what the outcome would be or what my future would hold. I was leaving a pre-surgery doctor’s appointment when I decided it was time to make some major changes in my life all the way around.” She goes on to discuss making another life changing decision, “I talked to the boys in the band and told them that I had to leave the group and take some time off. It was tough, but they were very supportive and understanding.”
Crystal’s surgery was a success and she was given a clean bill of health. She took time during her recovery to regroup and get a grasp on what her next step would be. “I poured myself into writing. I was writing songs every day, writing blogs, recording and just being creative in every way that I could,“ she explains, “I sat back and looked at everything that I was doing and decided it was not time to throw in the towel. I had been here too long and worked too hard to give up on music!”
Now, armed with a new lease on life, a new attitude, and a catalog of new songs, the soulful Louisiana girl is ”reintroducing” herself to the country music scene as a solo artist.When asked what makes her different, she quotes the lyrics of song she has recently written, “’I’m a steel guitar with some rhythm and blues’ - I think there are A LOT of country fans out there just like me. We can clean up nice, but you shouldn’t judge this book by the cover alone. I can still get my hands dirty when I need to. I’ve been through a lot, and since I left home, a lot of things haven’t come simple or easy, so what I have to say isn’t always going to be sugar coated. It’s going to be real!
,br>When asked about her goals for the future, she responds with conviction, ”I take being a vocalist and a songwriter very seriously, but in my heart I truly feel like the best word to describe me is, ‘entertainer’. I want anyone who ever spends their money on my music to know that it is based on substance and truth. But my biggest goal is having every single person who comes to see a show to leave saying that they had an amazing time and they would come back again and again!"
Crystal is ready to introduce country fans to a side of her they have not seen yet. And with determination, strength, and talent like this, you can expect that you will be seeing and hearing a lot more from Crystal Hoyt for a long time to come.