|He Never Held Me|
|Chris Young's Guitar|
|Match Made in a Honky Tonk|
|What Are We Together For?|
Being named Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2009 Texas Music Awards, in the same month her sophomore album was wrapping up, came as no surprise to anyone who knows her. Crystal Sands claims she formulated her career plan before she even started kindergarten and her family and close friends verify that. She swears that the first time she held a microphone at the age of three, she knew she was born to be a singer and that is when her quest began; nothing has ever altered her musical career path since.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Sands says while other kids her age were listening to rap and rock music, she stayed true to herself and was even made fun of at times. “Someone once asked me ‘what sixteen year old sits in her room and listens to Conway Twitty on a Friday night?’ Well, I do” she replied. She can’t recall a time when music wasn’t her first priority and primary motivation. She remembers that she couldn’t wait to get out of school. “I would race home, go to my room, and sing my heart out to an imaginary audience of 10,000 fans,” she says smiling, “and I wrote a lot of letters to God asking Him to help me make my dreams come true”. To learn the words to her favorite songs she would listen to cassette tapes and press play, pause, rewind, over and over again until she had the songs memorized. When CD’s came out, she was in heaven, and Sands fell in love with her karaoke machine. “Every weekend we had karaoke night in our living room and I always had the microphone,” she says.
Inspired by the lyrics of many of the more traditional country artists, at the age of thirteen, Sands began writing songs. She is very excited that one of the first songs she ever wrote, “Hurts More At Night,” was selected to be on her sophomore album, Hard Times. At the age of sixteen she began singing with local bands on the weekends but she worked hard during the week on her school studies. At seventeen she taught herself to play guitar and says it really helped with her songwriting. “I’m not the best picker,” she says, “but it has helped me develop a better ear.”
In June of 2006 she graduated from Western Tech High School. Inspired by one of her musical heroes, Tammy Wynette, she studied cosmetology throughout high school and was able to graduate with her cosmetology license. Her parents gave her a trip to Nashville as her graduation present. She says Nashville was magical and felt like it was where she belonged. A chance meeting with the legendary TG Sheppard led to an introduction to singer/songwriter Kelly Lang. After listening to Sands CD of cover tunes, Lang invited her back to Nashville to record a three song demo; two of those songs ended up on her self-titled, debut album.
She sang with The Esquires, a local Baltimore band, almost every weekend at the VFW or American Legion until she decided to accept another invitation. The owners of Ah-Ha Music Group and 3XC Music Publishing, Corene and Clarence Scwab, invited her to come down to Texas. She packed up her trailblazer and left home in March of 2008. She says she felt like Texas had more to offer her music career, and it certainly turned out that she was right. With the help and encouragement of Schwab, her Texas experience is one she will never forget. Although her debut album was recorded in Nashville, the release party was held in Texas, in true Texas style, at a concert at Bootleggers Honky Tonk. The first song released from the album reached the top twenty on the National New Music Charts and the second release was met with equal enthusiasm.
Sands says that during her stay in Texas she sang at some of the coolest venues and honky tonks, with the amazing New West Band backing her, she was featured on The Texas County Line television show several times, traveled around Texas doing radio interviews, made her first music video, and met some of the greatest people, including a couple of her musical heroes, country legends Ray Price and Leona Williams. She definitely considered it an honor to be able to open for each of them.
She was nominated for “Female Vocalist of the Year” and the “Rising Star” award by the 2009 Texas Music Awards. When she was invited to sing at the awards show, she was beyond excited because, as she says, “I never thought for one minute that I would actually win in either category because the artists I was going up against were so incredibly talented. When they called my name for Female Vocalist of the Year, my mother had to push me out of my chair. I could not believe they had just called my name. It was so surreal. I was truly in shock! I couldn’t think of a thing to say because I never in a million years thought I would win. I was so incredibly humbled and I still am every time I think about it.”
Recording her sophomore album at Rosewood Studio, the studio made famous by LeAnn Rimes, was like another dream come true for her and her sophomore album contains ten songs; all written by Sands. “To have this album means that one of my biggest dreams has now come true. Opportunities like I’ve been blessed with are rare. I know God has His own plan for me but I just love that, lately, He’s answering all the letters I wrote Him way back when my dreams first began.”
Sands has moved back to her hometown where she is busy promoting her new album and making new fans.