Newcomer KALYSTA Hits the High Note

Voted Best Female Jazz Singer In the Great Lakes Bay Region

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, , Review Music Awards,   From Issue 899   By: Robert E Martin

15th July, 2020     0

With a message and focus that reach beyond her youthful age, newcomer Kalysta Sylvester (known professionally simply as KALYSTA) is revitalizing a soulful reflection of American musical history.

Selected by voters as the Best Female Jazz Vocalist at this year’s 34th REVIEW Music Awards, this twenty-year-old songstress finds her inspiration in the deep grooves of Motown Era Funk and Soul, while also embracing the elegance and class of the ‘Big Band’ era; infusing the entire mix with the passion and energy of Latin and Pop crossover, while keeping her heart beating to the expressiveness of contemporary R&B.

She recently signed a management contract with Grammy Award winning Greta VanFleet’s former long-time manager, Michael Barbee, which has fueled her career with calendar tour dates she is set to perform across the Midwest, while she is also preparing for production of her upcoming EP.

Honoring iconic women in music from Aretha Franklin to Alicia Keys, while also utilizing postmodern fusions of funk and hip-hop inspired by current masters of the trade such as Bruno Mars, it’s very difficult to peg Kalysta within any specific genre of music. 

Kalysta says that she became interested in music at a very young age. “My family was really big on music and being from Detroit, they listened to all sorts of music, but were really big on R&B and Soul,” she reflects. “Artists such as K.C. & the Sunshine Band and Stevie Wonder were especially influential and appealing to me and in school I went more towards musical interests as opposed to sports because all I wanted to do was sing. But without doubt one of my biggest influences was Aretha Franklin.”

While she had no formal musical training, Kalysta says that her Mother was her guiding force and as she started singing, “I would ask Mama Bear if I sounded good or not.”

After starting out playing professionally in various bars and restaurants, as fate would have it, she connected with Greta VanFleet’s former manager Michael Barbee about two years ago. “I’ve played piano for about ten years now and my goal is to create my own music,” she states. “I’ve been working on original songs over the past year and we will be going to Tennessee this August to pre-record in a studio, which I am super-excited about.”

When asked what she feels distinguishes her sound the most, Kalysta focuses upon her vocal acumen.  “I feel that my voice brings back that old school ‘Soul’ sound that’s been kind of lost in recent years.  My goal is to take that Aretha Franklin type of soul to a new contemporary level. I’m not hating on any genres of music at all, because I like everything, really - but R&B and Soul is my focus.”

Kalysta became known throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region performing at venues such as the Pierce Road Bar & Grill and the Crowne Pub in Bay City. Plus, she is particularly looking forward to headlining a date at Saginaw’s Temple Theatre once the COVID-19 crisis is over.

Indeed, as with all musical artists who suddenly found their performing livelihoods silenced by the COVID crisis, KALYSTA says she is trying to see the silver-lining within this time of isolation. “Actually, this pandemic has given me more time to focus upon my originals, writing new music, and building my brand through merchandising, which is what I’ve been focusing on the last few months. I have about ten really good original songs down now and am getting them prepped for when we go to Tennessee, where we’ll be recording at Plymouth Rock Studios.”

When asked what her biggest challenge is at this juncture, Kalysta says that moving forward she would like to start performing more out of this area and spreading her wings a little bit. “I’d like to travel to some of the areas more South of here because I don’t want to get stuck in the bar scene; plus, sometimes I think in this area there’s a certain type of music that’s liked around here and I don’t want to get stuck in any particular genre, either.”

Apart from the classic artists that have influenced her, Kalysta also says there are several contemporary artists who have also piqued her interest. “Somebody I feel is really creative is Billie Eilish who has a knack for rendering her songs with different effects and structures; and I also like H.E.R. quite a lot. She produces her own music, creates it, and is very involved in the entire process; plus I appreciate the way she blends different musical genres together. Not enough people do that, in my opinion.”

As for her reaction to being voted Best Female Jazz Artist at this year’s RMA awards, Kalysta says she was definitely surprised about the win. “There were so many strong nominees and artists listed like Monique Ella Rose, who is an amazing singer and very talented. Frankly, when I heard my name announced as the winner I was a little shocked.”

With a philanthropist spirit, Kalysta aims to provide resources and assistance for under privileged children, veterans, and the disabled, by bringing together those who can help others in need. 

“Music unites. It brings people from all backgrounds together to find the common purpose of togetherness and joy.”

To check out a demo recording of Kalysta’s version of the Aretha Franklin classic ‘Chain of Fools’, go to this link. 



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