Kristin Atkins will be the first to tell you that she wasn’t always part of the “in” crowd nor was she considered a “favorite,” but that only fueled her passion to do and achieve more. She’s certainly done that as an accomplished singer-songwriter, educator, and author who is passionate about empowering her students to reach higher and dream bigger. So, how does she manage it all? From her work in the music industry to her passion for working with inner-city Chicago youth, Kristin shared a glimpse into her career in this Sheen Magazine exclusive.
Who is Kristin Atkins?
I am an educator, author, singer-songwriter, and an elder who loves the Lord. My life’s mission is to spread joy and happiness through my music and in my business.
I love living life to the fullest. Taking on new opportunities fuels my very existence. I have never allowed fear to stop me from doing anything I want to do. People often ask me why I do so many things. The answer is “Because I can.” Who says that you only have to do one thing with your life?
Why is singing important to you?
Singing is my passion. I share the talent God has given me with the world through my music. I use my voice to encourage and uplift. Music moves people. It can be the difference between life and death. Music can breathe life into a lifeless situation. It can be the driving force to bring healing to a nation. The impact of music is limitless. It simply has no bounds.
What are some characteristics and traits you bring to the table?
I work in many different arenas. Being trustworthy, determined, giving, and hardworking are required in any profession. I am always willing to give because it is better to give than to receive. The sooner you learn that, the better off you will be. It’s also very important to be trustworthy. My word is my bond. All personal and business relationships thrive on honesty; without honesty, you have nothing.
I’ve experienced several setbacks in my life, but I refuse to give up. I wasn’t always in the “in” crowd or the “favorite,” but, even then, I was determined to succeed. I have heard “no” countless times, but that fueled me to keep pushing forward. I have suffered chronic pain most of my adult life, but I refuse to give up on my dreams. I’ve also suffered with bouts of depression but, despite all this, I still pressed ahead to achieve my vision and my dream.
What advice would you give someone who would like to mirror your success as a singer-songwriter?
Anyone who wants to be a singer-songwriter needs to love it and not do it for accolades or money. There are a lot of singers and songwriters in this world who are phenomenal, but that doesn’t mean they’ll make it. It takes more than talent. It’s about being at the right place at the right time. It takes persistence and having relationships in the music industry certainly helps.
If you are interested in education or ministry, understand that each of these occupations is a calling. Be a student first and immerse yourself in learning. Educate yourself so that you can always stay relevant.
How do you define success?
Webster’s definition of success is “a favorable or desired outcome.” Success can be subjective, which means everyone has their unique version of what success looks like for them. I am successful because I am living my dreams. I’ve also done the necessary work to accomplish my goals. I’ve obtained my desired outcome.
Also, my idea of success doesn’t depend on someone else’s view of success when they look at me. It only matters what I think. I am not finished yet, but I am happy with where I am in life. I look forward to the other plans that God has in mind for me.
What sense of purpose do you draw from your culture and community?
I love the Black community. Black lives do matter! This year has been difficult but, throughout history, we as a people have always overcome racial and social injustice. This time is no different. I think that other races now have a clearer picture of what life is really like for a person of color in America. I find comfort in knowing that Black people have always risen above challenges.
My purpose in life is to share my culture with other cultures to enrich their understanding of who Black people are. Teaching children in the inner city of Chicago helps me expose students to culture through vital partnerships with organizations like the House of Blues Chicago, The American Blues Theater, Joffrey Ballet, and the Auditorium Theatre and Lyric Opera House. These organizations have provided rich learning experiences for my students. Spotlighting the contributions of African Americans in the world also helps my students realize that they can do great things with their futures.
What was your experience hosting the BET Carpet for the Stellar Awards?
Hosting the event was a highlight of 2019 for me. Interviewing the Stellar Awards nominees and other celebrities was so much fun. The environment was charged with the glitz and glamour of a hot Las Vegas afternoon. It was exciting to be among the other radio and television stations rubbing elbows with past and future winners of Stellar Awards.
Where we can find more of your work?
My new children’s book, The Adventures of Dinah Washington, is now available on Amazon.
All images by Jason McCoy