I met Kris Ray in October of 2012 during a hip hop show at Rotture in Portland, OR. We only chatted briefly, but I instantly found her charming and was tickled when she gave me her number and a link to her bandcamp and soundcloud. Unfortunately, I ended up misplacing her information, but she never left my mind, even though I had no idea what her music sounded like. Six weeks later, I found the links scribbled on a small piece of paper floating around in the mess of my desk. After just one listen, I felt a connection to her sound, her words, and her delivery. She was amazing, she was a gem. I couldn’t stop listening to her music.
I contacted Kris to tell her I was a fan and inquire about her musical endeavors. She was delightfully receptive and open to my bus nonsense, so we continued to correspond for a while. I would check in to ask if she was playing gigs and tell her how much her music meant to me, or pass along positive feedback her music had received. It wasn’t until months and months later that we finally had a chance to sit and talk face to face in a quiet environment. For at least an hour we spoke about different aspects of life. She told me about how she had lived in Portland for a year but hadn’t played a single show, despite having toured and played with multiple bands in the past. We discussed depression, where she came from, her musical history, and the challenges she faced trying to squeeze music into her busy, stressful schedule. The time passed quickly and the meeting ended on a hopeful note with a hug.
I don’t know how long it took after that encounter, but Kris soon started booking shows, connecting with other female musicians, and truly making music a part of her daily life. She dove into her art and kept producing beautiful things, things I got to enjoy. Every time I got a message from her with good news I would literally squeal. Every time she booked a show I’d do a happy dance and every new song she posted was like a gift. She’s great and others clearly see it too. I just love when that happens. To this very day, hearing from her makes me smile from ear to ear.
Kris has recently moved to Eugene, but when she posted this video to my Facebook wall yesterday, I knew this was the right time to share her bus story. Watch the video and make sure to check out her soundcloud too. “Closet Singer“ is one of my favorite tracks.
Afro Summer -Kris Ray
This was the first time I ever saw her perform. She closed her set (and the entire day) at Slabtown for the Grrrl Front Fest with “Heya” by OUTKAST. She had fun with it and so did the audience.