There are so many women in today’s media who are in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, focusing on superficial values rather than using their celebrity status for social good. We want to recognize those women who use their talent and their position in the public eye to actually make a difference and bring positive change to the world around them.
Enter: Caitlin Crosby. This singer/songwriter has used her career in the music industry to speak up for what she believes in. Besides her musical talents, Caitlin has also founded The Giving Keys – a project that started with her idea to engrave inspirational quotes into old keys and turn them into jewelry. Recipients of these keys are encouraged to “pay it forward” and one day give their key away to someone who may need the message on the key more than they do. Caitlin took The Giving Keys to a new level when she began employing workers affected by homelessness, and has since created over 30 jobs for these workers in need.
Today Caitlin tells us about her journey and how her experiences have shaped where she is today.
You grew up in Beverley Hills, and were involved in acting and music by the time you were in high school. You were even signed on with an all-girl pop group by Babyface at the age of 17. How did these experiences shape who you are today?
I really learned to stand up for myself. Growing up in the music industry with grown men running our labels, to A&R people, producers, managers etc, we were pushed to do a lot of things I wasn't comfortable with, so I learned to speak up and fight for what I believed in.
Did you know from a young age that this is what you wanted to do?
Yes, I knew the only reason I wanted to get into the entertainment industry was so that I'd have a platform to talk about issues I was passionate about; and to try and make positive change happen in our generation.
From your band, Foxi Nova, in your teenage years, to your first studio album ‘Flawz’ released by the time you were 26 – it seems like music plays a big role in who you have become. How has music played a role in your life?
It made me look deeper into all the people I see and encounter. Why do people do what they do? What is the pain we are all going through and why? I only wanted to write songs that would help people in some way, so I had to look at life closer.
Your songs focus on self-love and accepting your flaws… a topic that is not touched by many musicians in pop culture. How did these themes for your music come about?
I grew up acting from a young age, and started writing songs about all the crazy things I saw behind the scenes in that world. Once I got signed, I experienced a lot of A&R Label heads wanting me to write songs about 'parties', 'pop culture', 'fake ID's', 'affairs', and subject matters that would push the envelope, but since I was dealing with my own personal insecurities, I wrote songs that would give me therapy instead.
What inspired your new song, ‘Cracked Me Open’
? Can we be expecting a new album in the near future?
We are working on a Giving Keys Record where I'm writing songs inspired by our transitional employees and 'pay it forward' stories. It will feature different musicians/artists who support The Giving Keys.
You started The Giving Keys when you were first on tour for your Flaws album in 2009. Tell me about how you came up with the idea, and how you turned that idea into the success story that it is today.
I spent years observing, examining, and analyzing how and why humans are hurting. I always prayed, "God, give me your heart for people." I believe he answered that prayer and The Giving Keys was the outcome. Even in my early years writing songs, I always wanted to write about issues that people were going through to hopefully encourage them. All of those observations, and trying to strategically create a product and movement that would heal people started while touring for music and selling different creative products at the merchandise tables, which is where The Giving Keys was birthed. I knew people weren't buying the keys because of the fashion element, they were resonating with the story, message and mission behind it. The girls needed to be reminded that they were 'one of a kind' - just like these keys.
Did you ever imagine that The Giving Keys would become such a hit?
I never expected it to get THIS massive. I hope it has inspired others around the world to start something for unjust issues they're passionate about. I think all organizations should keep raising the bar to challenge each other in the way we shape our campaigns and work to have greater impact.
Where do you see the organization going in the next 5-10 years?
We are expanding our jewelry line with new inspiring products I'm extremely excited to launch, and we're expanding into other lifestyle, fashion and concept products. The ultimate goal is to get as many people off the streets by creating more jobs for individuals who have been affected by homelessness. Needless to say, I don't sleep much 🙂
Aside from The Giving Keys, you also co-founded a project with fellow actress/singer Brie Larson called Love Your Flawz
. Can you tell us about it?
I saw that so many girls (including myself) suffered from low self-esteem because they compared themselves to media images that are impossible to attain. Then I did a film where they airbrushed an entirely different body onto my face for the movie poster, which allowed me see first-hand just how fake so many of those images are. I was even jealous of my own fake airbrushed body!
I also saw many girlfriends placing their 'value' on what guys thought about them. I wanted all of us to embrace our 'quirks' and so called 'imperfections' because those are the things that make us beautiful. I wanted to change our perspectives to see our 'Flawz' as beautiful. It was my own form of therapy. I wanted our value & confidence to come from our character, integrity and all of our uniqueness. Here's the Flawz video from 2009 that I spend years filming and editing. I'm super proud of this one. http://youtu.be/R_PpRpYME10
Creating music, performing, acting, philanthropy… How do you prioritize all of the aspects of your life?
I'm still figuring out how to fit it all in. I'm constantly stressed about feeling like there's not enough time to do everything and the fact is there's NOT. I mostly did all that entertainment industry work before The Giving Keys, which helped give TGK a platform to be discovered, and now I'm in a season where I'm carving out time to reinvest back into my music career.
To combine all of these forces, I'm starting to work on The Giving Keys album with my record label president, Adam Anders. It's going to be a compilation CD with all the different artists that support TGK, so I'm starting to write songs for that project now.
You are an inspiration to so many women. Who inspires you?
Bono, Oprah and Ariana Huffington.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with readers?
Don't be so hard on yourself. You are unique for a divine purpose. There's no one else like you. Embrace all your 'quirks' and so called 'imperfections.' Change your perspective and know that those things make you 'you.' And that's a beautiful thing.
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