The first time I had the opportunity to hear Crystal Sparks sing was nearly two years ago at my fortieth birthday celebration. It was one of those perfect Sunday nights in the courtyard at St. Phillips Plaza … perfect weather, perfect venue, 14 of my closest girlfriends, and perfect sounds … compliments of the Divas of Jazz and the Tucson Jazz Society. Crystal was one of the trio of performers that night, celebrating a night of songs capturing the power of strong women, and I was blown away by her vocal strength, control, stage presence, style and smile. She helped make my birthday night very special for my friends and me … it was perfect.
So, when I walked in to the Savoy Opera last week to celebrate another special night for a good friend of mine, I was excited to see Crystal Sparks on the program! Big Brothers and Big Sisters were holding their first annual roast, honoring one of their most beloved supporters for nearly 38 years of service to the organization, Peter Backus. After an hour of roasting and celebrating, Dave Sitton, Master of Ceremonies, introduced Crystal Sparks to the audience. She came to Big Brothers Big Sisters at the age of eight, and attributes much of whom she is today to the organization.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters has impacted my life on many levels. My bigs showed me a world beyond the tiny bubble that I had been living in. They showed me what was out there and what was available to me. They encouraged me to strive to be my very best and cheered for every accomplishment. I can’t imagine how different I’d be had I never had the chance to meet them. I am so privileged to have my bigs in my life and to forever include them as part of my family.”
Crystal performed Mariah Carey’s “Make it Happen,” an incredibly difficult song to sing due to the pace and vocal range challenges, and she absolutely nailed it, as if she were back on the stages of American Idol, where, in Season Five, she made the Top 44, out of more than 100,000 contestants, and hasn¹t let up since. Her performance electrified the crowd, and again, I was so proud to be part of another special night.
Bob and Marilyn Klepinger, Crystal’s Big Couple, who first hosted her into the Bigs back in 1990, were part of the audience that night, as well. “We were so fortunate to have her in our lives then and now. She was always fun to be with.”
The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to create and support one-to-one adult-to-child mentor relationships, guiding youth from a position of risk to one of achieving their highest potential. This has certainly been the outcome for Crystal. Now, as a young, confident, University of Arizona graduate with a bachelor’s degree in music, she continues to more opportunities to follow her dreams of being both a singer and a teacher. Be on the lookout for upcoming CDs next year…she is truly a star on the rise.
If you¹d like to make a difference and help mentor a child, please visit www.tucsonbigs.org.
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