Black Nurses Rock Celebrity Spokesperson
When Crystal Aikin boarded a plane in her hometown Tacoma, Washington, bound for Los Angeles to participate in a singing competition, she had no idea that this would be the opportunity that would change her life forever. A registered nurse with an anointed singing voice, Aikin hadn’t even heard about the show when a woman who didn’t know Crystal personally but had heard her sing tracked her down and encouraged her to audition.
The competition was Black Entertainment Television’s first all gospel talent show Sunday Best and, several weeks later, the church girl from the Pacific Northwest beat out some of the country’s best church singers to become the 2008 BET Sunday Best winner.
As the winner, this single sister with the pretty smile and bubbly personality who just loves to sing gospel and inspire people to worship God, received a major recording contract with Zomba Gospel, the largest gospel label in the world, and a 2008 Toyota Camry. She was beyond ecstatic and brimming with gratitude for the opportunity to spread the “good news” through song world-wide.
Now, with the release of her self-titled debut solo CD, she is poised to put her fresh, new sound on the gospel map.
Crystal’s gospel journey began as a child growing up in Tacoma. She remembers, “I grew up in Altheimer Memorial Church of God In Christ in Tacoma. I sang in the children’s Sunshine Band. I honestly didn’t think that I could sing. I just think they gave me the mic and I was like ‘Okay, now I’ll start singing!’ I really did like air directing. That’s when the music is playing and you’re directing the air which is your choir! I never thought that I’d ever actually direct. But as I got older, young leaders in my church started going off to college, and I fell into the position of directing and more lead singing. And that developed my leadership skills for singing in groups in the church because neither of my parents were soloists.”
Counting Gospel artists Yolanda Adams, Lisa Paige (of Witness), The Clark Sisters, The Winans and Bebe and CeCe Winans among her musical influences, by the time she reached her twenties, Crystal had become a seasoned church singer making a name for herself in the Tacoma-Seattle area while also obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology. But it wasn’t until the late 1990s when she joined a local singing group that Crystal’s gospel journey would take her into the professional arena.
“My first appearance at GMWA was with a group called Soul. We travelled and performed extensively in the 90s, and we received a lot of amazing visibility and opportunities. Before that, I was in a local group called Heaven Sent Us, and that is when I really developed as a vocalist and stage performer. But my time with Soul was when I first began getting singing exposure outside of Tacoma,” says Crystal.
After leaving Soul, Crystal returned to singing in and around her hometown. It was also during this time that she lost her father. “His words were embedded in my spirit – to make sure I could take care of myself –and that’s when I made the decision to go back to school. In 2005 she returned to college and obtained a nursing degree, following in the footsteps of her mother – a Registered Nurse and a Professor of Nursing at Crystal’s alma mater, Pacific University.
Crystal’s kind hearted nature and love for helping people is what drew her into nursing. Her desire to lead people to Christ through her music ministry is what keeps her singing gospel music.