By singer, songwriter: Cristina F
My Inspiration : Justin Timberlake
Whenever someone asks me what artists inspire me, my immediate response is always Justin Timberlake. My music isn’t really similar to his, but my entire musical background, what made me the artist I am today, even the way I sing, are all inspired by him.
Music was always in my family. My parents played music constantly, and I was always singing and dancing. My Dad was a huge Beatles fan, so we listened to them a lot. At a very young age, I was able to hear the different harmonies and sing along. The Beatles definitely introduced me to wanting to really sing and understanding harmony. My passion of singing didn’t become extreme until the day I discovered *NSYNC. I actually found them on my own, no influence from my parents, friends, or my cousins. I was young, playing in the den minding my own business. MTV or VH1 was playing on the TV. I must’ve heard what I liked because I remember looking up at the TV and seeing JC Chasez. I recognized him from The Mickey Mouse Club! Then I saw Justin, and this was immediately my favorite band. There was something about what I heard and what I saw, the familiarity of the two guys, and a connection I felt to the music. All I knew how to do from then on was sing in my room all hours of the day. I knew every song, the order of the tracks, every JT part, and every dance move. Their harmonies were more intertwined and complicated than The Beatles, and this challenged me to really listen and learn. I immediately started to sing the JC leads too because I wanted to sing bigger and longer notes, and he was always doing the belting. I was really training my voice and I didn’t even know it.
I continued to follow JT into his solo career, still singing and watching his every move. I had since discovered that I could sing more strongly, and was singing along to female artists like Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child and Celine Dion, but I still loved singing JT. His voice was changing from his *NSYNC days and, for a lack of a better phrase, he was starting to sound more mature. He was exploring more of his falsetto too, and I was learning how to do that.
Timberlake’s second solo album FutureSex/LoveSound is one of my favorite albums ever. I loved how he sang those songs. I loved the extended versions, sometimes more than the actual titled song. For no good reason, I did not attend the FutureSex/LoveShow tour. I did get the DVD for Christmas, and it is my favorite concert I’ve never been to. Whenever I watch this concert, I finish feeling so motivated to sing and move and play and write. I love watching him perform, but there’s something about this particular show that beats any other performance. I truly believe he was at his prime. He always had grace, style, charm, and heart in his work, but it just felt so natural and honest this time. I believe this not only makes you a great artist, but it makes you a great person. I admire these traits, and I believe they have inspired the artist that I have become.
When The 20/20 Experience albums came out, this was the time that I started to write for myself. These albums had different sounds, but a similar style, and again, something new for Timberlake. What I loved most about these albums was that he was super creative and weird. I was new to songwriting, but I was being fearless, writing whatever came out, and not being afraid of it being different.
When I first started singing in public, I was all about the belt. I belted away every song possible. I don’t think I really grew as a singer until I started writing, and started realizing that I don’t need to be wailing on every song. I appreciated this realization because I think it made me stronger. I found what I could do if I wasn’t the ultimate belter, reaching for my inner JT. I admire singers like Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera…I grew up singing their songs! But I wasn’t writing around big notes. At first I thought, maybe I’m not challenging my voice enough. That thought did not last very long because I believe I challenge my voice in other ways. A song doesn’t always have to amount to the “big finish” or that “big note.” I was writing from a surplus of emotions, feelings and experiences. I didn’t understand theory, and I wasn’t writing for vocal effect, but for emotional effect, and what came out was what I learned was the artist I was going to be.
I may not sound like Justin Timberlake or write like him, and I don’t have the R&B influences that he was inspired by growing up, but he really is my biggest influencer. He has been a guiding light to finding myself as an artist since day one. From his creative live show arrangements to his extended songs, I am so intrigued by him and have learned so much. One of my dreams would be to work with him and/or perform live with him (at a concert, on SNL, whichever comes first), but I would also love to have a long conversation with him. I have a lot of questions to ask, mostly about music…I’ll refrain from asking about the inside details on the last days of *NSYNC!
~ Cristina F
Cristina F’s P.S. Art Part I is out now
Find Cristina F here:
Produced by/in collaboration with Jeff Gorra: