A Young Woman’s Journey from a Charter School to a Successful Career in the Music Industry

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Singer Kris Bliss, alum of Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts

When I think back to my high school days, I chuckle over the fact that it truly was unlike any high school experience I ever fantasized about. Think back to the movie “High School Musical” (which was my generation’s version of “Fame”), at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts we were dancing in the hallways, singing in the middle of math class, always in ‘performance mode,’ ready at a moment’s notice to hear “ACTION!”

Before I share more of those details, let me rewind back to the beginning. Some of my earliest childhood memories were centered around music in some way, shape, or form. If you had the chance to ever watch my family’s home videos, you’d see my dad as my biggest fan, recording all of my performances on his chunky camcorder. A particular performance that comes to mind, is when I performed (with light choreography) the nursery song “Bluebird, bluebird, on my shoulder,” in my favorite royal blue corduroy overalls.  I also remember one of my primary dance recitals, when I wore a pink sparkly costume that had pink feathers to add pizazz. During my performance, I waved at my father in the audience, and had the audacity to break character to blow kisses into the audience (after what was obviously a flawless performance, LOL)!

My mother who is a music educator and musician herself, equally supported my musical being. Because of my parents, music is just in my DNA. Music has always filled our household—thus, it was truly a bonding factor in the relationships I’ve developed with both my parents.

My parents really invested in exposing me to the arts, with special attention to Black arts. They educated me on our cultural history, and the musical influences that Black people have made past and present in every major genre of music that exists today.

Without ever being pushed, my parents always supported any creative outlet I had, whether it was dance, piano lessons, voice lessons, guitar lessons, or musical theater. By the time high school came around, my musical pursuits somewhat halted because I was more focused on playing sports. Fortunately for me, during freshman year, word was traveling that a new performing arts charter high school was opening the following year, and that auditions to get into the school were quickly approaching. Without too much convincing of our parents, my two best friends and I prepared our audition materials, and off we went!

I sang “Hero” by Mariah Carey, who I heavily adored at the time (and still do). Sophomore year came, and I was among the first group of kids to attend the grand opening of the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, located in Bethlehem, Pa.

People always ask me what it was like to attend a performing arts charter high school, and when I reflect back, I am so grateful for the amazing resources, opportunities, and experiences that only a child at a performing arts school could have. I’ve never envisioned doing anything else besides music, and I was constantly in an environment that supported that vision. I was in a touring choir that traveled internationally to perform! I was exposed to summer music programs through my guidance counselor’s office and ended up with a scholarship to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music. I had teachers that really cared to invest in me with the musical knowledge they held. This was also due to the fact that my school was pretty small, and my teachers had the time to give me the attention that I needed. Being one of the first group of students to attend this new school, there was a lot to learn. It was a creative environment that promoted a sense of freedom of expression, and the fact that half of my day was dedicated to music… I could not ask for more!

Now, as an adult, I make it a point to get myself back into schools of all kinds, and public spaces like after-school programs, community centers, and public libraries. I created a program called Black History: A Celebration Through Music, which tells the history of America through music. I wanted to find a way to empower our youth, with special attention to our youth of color, in a way is always translatable — through the universal language of music. This program is so powerful, and I have been privileged to have had it performed in public schools around Brooklyn, where I currently reside. This program also has me working with the Brooklyn Public Library, and summer programs around the Northeast region. My goal is to have this performed in a tour of charter and arts schools, as well as universities all over the country! Working with kids is a passion of mine, and it’s so important to invest in the youth, just as I was invested in!

In my professional singing career, I’ve had the privilege of working with many successful artists, such as Sam Smith, Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, and India Arie, just to name a few. Working with Sam specifically, whom I’ve worked with the longest (contracted to both of his world-tours), has inspired me to step into my artistry, by becoming more authentic and transparent in a way that a lot of artists aren’t. I’m grateful for the amazing opportunities I’ve had, and the privilege of traveling around the world, multiple times. I’d make a bet to say I most likely wouldn’t be in this position today, had I not had my parents’ foundation of music, and the Lehigh Valley Charter High School to prep me for this lifestyle.

I’m currently working on my first ever solo music project, an EP, and it’s been a long time coming, but I finally feel ready! All my experiences thus far have prepared me for this moment, and this new venture is another avenue of music I hope to explore and succeed in  without fear. Through my experiences and everything I’ve learned along the way, something tells me I’ll be just fine.

Singer Kris Bliss, alum of Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts

Kris Brooks was originally born in Philadelphia, but spent her formative years in a variety of different areas across the country—including Chicago, Houston, Greenville, Miss., and Bethlehem, Pa. Following her graduation from the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, Kris attended the prestigious and world renowned Berklee College of Music, where she earned dual degrees in Music Business and Songwriting. In addition to her many music ventures, Kris has a personal website and blog called The Kris Bliss. Kris calls herself The Music Lifestylist ™️, living her life through her ventures as a singer-songwriter, artist, and educator. Her aim is to share her bliss, experiences, and education, to create a community focused on celebrating creative women of color. The ultimate goals of her platform are to inspire, heal, and build her presence to be organically booked based on the lifestyle in music that she organically promotes. You can contact Kris at www.thekrisbliss.com.

Comments

February 21, 2019 - 01:02pm
Sharon Levy

Wonderful article, Kris!! Wishing you continued blessings and much success!

February 21, 2019 - 01:20pm
Cecil E. Floyd

I'm so proud of you and your accomplishments, keep up the great work!

February 21, 2019 - 01:58pm
Deborah Jenkins

So happy for you success and your willingness to give back! I remember fondly attending one of your performances in Bethlehem. Continued blessings to you! Can’t wait to hear your EP!

March 7, 2019 - 12:07pm
Kris Brooks

Aww thank you so much Mrs. Jenkins! I am hoping to get the EP out by the end of the year!! Can't wait!

February 21, 2019 - 05:29pm
Flo & Happy

Yes you are amazing! Remembering how a piano player had concerns about your exceptional talent. He’s still banging on the same keyboard as you continue to soar to greater highest. Continue believing in Philippians 4:13. We are sooo proud of you.

March 7, 2019 - 12:20pm
Kris

I literally read that verse when I woke up this morning! God is so good! Thank you for your unwavering support! I hope you all are well! Sending my love!

February 21, 2019 - 06:01pm
Cathey Wise

So proud of your accomplishments Kris! You are such an amazing person. I watch your performances with Sam Smith every opportunity that I can. Can’t wait to hear your EP. congratulation!

February 22, 2019 - 08:19am
Paula Croom

Keep being you. Your blessing are being you and living your amazing and best life. Never dream about your gift but live it every single day. May God bless your parents for encouraging you to soar and become the beautiful spirit you are. Live out loud!

February 22, 2019 - 11:04am
Johnnie Martin…

Kim this is a wonderful article! Thank you for sharing your experiences and talents with the youth of today( as well as the rest of us). I work with your beautiful mother and I know how proud she and your father must be of you. Good luck with everything!!!!

March 7, 2019 - 12:45pm
**Kris

Aww thank you so much! I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog post! Glad you can witness how amazing my mother is, which I've seen all my life! I'm so blessed!

February 22, 2019 - 01:20pm
Todd Steverson

You are the role model I can believe in. You were believed in and supported by a loving wholesome family who adore you. What better example of the path needed for so many of any age to follow. This article is the most positive thing I have read in quite some time. Thank YOU!

March 7, 2019 - 12:50pm
Kris

Wow! Thank you so much for your comment Todd! I truly am blessed to have had the unconditional love and support of my parents and my community growing up. I want nothing more than to pour that same love in the community where I currently reside, and communities that NEED that same support worldwide- through my talents in skills in music and education. Thank YOU for your positivity as well! Comments like yours affirm that what I am doing is what I need to be doing! Thank you!

February 22, 2019 - 06:08pm
Rose Jackson

Kris, I am I happy for you! Keep on doing great! All my love to you and your family.

February 23, 2019 - 09:16am
Donald Tellez

Living proof that your dreams can indeed become your life’s reality. Congratulations to this well dream catching aspiring young lady !

February 26, 2019 - 03:24pm
Brian Hamedl

Congratulations Kris on all your success in the music industry. I agree with you 100% that your parents had a huge impact on your development as a student/person/musician! I still can picture the moments walking into your house and hearing jazz music being played through your home sound system and then all of a sudden hearing your vocals penetrate through the floors! Lol. You definitely were blessed with such great mentors/role models in your parents. I can recall moments that Monte spoke so highly of you and really cherished the culture and the Lord above. God bless you and your family. I’m honored to have met your Father and I’m happy to read about your continued success! Best of luck on your ventures in the future ! God bless !
PS: Tell my boy Monte (and Steph) I said hi! Every time I drive by The Manor I think about those cars and your Fam!

March 7, 2019 - 01:08pm
Kris

Wow! Thank you so much for your comment Brian! My parents most certainly were and still are great role models, and I am truly grateful for all that they poured into me! I would not have gotten here without them- literally! LOL! Thanks for the well wishes! I will certainly forward the message along! Hope all with you is well too! Best!

March 5, 2019 - 12:26am
Aunt Sandy

I love that you have a mind for a love of music, traveling spirt. and beautiful on top of all that. Keep that lovely exploriation of life!

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