Dream Big Profile: Jenn Cristy
One day, Indiana University senior Jenn Cristy was named swimmer of the Big Ten Championships (swimming MVP). The following week, she sang the National Anthem at a men's basketball game. Now this summer, Cristy tours with rocker John Mellencamp.
Quite a load for the 22-year-old from Oak Ridge, Tenn. But, it's nothing new for Cristy. "My whole life I have had to juggle all the things I did, and in high school, I did more activities than I do now. They just weren't as time-consuming," says Cristy. She admits that her grades could be better; however, she receives tremendous support from the university, which has been instrumental in helping her organize her activities.
After her most successful season of swimming competition, earning All-American status in the 50-yard freestyle and receiving her highest placement, a third in the 50-free at the NCAA Championships, Cristy is eager to use the discipline and patience she learned while swimming and parlay that to her budding music career. "Even though they [swimming and music] are completely different, it would blow your mind how much they play off one another." Cristy notices it even more now that she is in the music studio. Instead of 12-13 hours a day at the pool, she now spends it in the studio honing her music skills. She won't back off, even when things get a bit hectic or difficult.
An accomplished singer and pianist, the multi-talented Cristy takes one day at a time. "I used to have no idea what to do after college, but I always wanted to do professional music. I just didn't know how to get there," Cristy says. "I had very few connections, and I didn't know where, when or how to begin." But after Mellencamp heard Cristy's rendition of the National Anthem at the basketball game, he invited her to the studio.
It looks like Cristy has found her way. She has a solo on the first Mellencamp single off his next CD and will play conga and bongo drums, piano, keyboards and organ, and, of course, provide backup vocals during the tour.
"I have always tried to surround myself with positive people and those people have helped me become the best I can," she says. "These people" include her piano teachers throughout the years and her IU swimming coach, Dorsey Tierney. "She has never given up on me and has always done everything she could to take me to the top." Now, she hopes her band members will do the same.