Tessanne Chin Crooks has often been described as a national treasure due to her head-turning singing ability. But it’s a gift that has attracted as much praise as criticism, which made her retreat from the music business in the past.
With the curtains falling on 2023, the Hideaway singer reflected on this being “one of the most incredible years of my life”, where she sang from a freer place.
“This year saw a rebirth and a stepping into my purpose, power and passion in a way that terrified me (still terrifies me), but ignites me at the same time,” Crooks wrote in an Instagram post. “I sing from a different place, it’s all joy and less pressure. I dream with the same heart but my dreams are evolving and it’s wonderful.”
During an Instagram Live with her sister Tami Chin Mitchell in 2021, she revealed that she had felt vocally stifled for the last six years. Following her victory as the winner of The Voice in 2013, Crooks faced criticism about the direction of her career. Then came the demise of her first marriage, which also saw onlookers weighing in.
“When you hear too many opinions of yourself, of your career, of your marriage or whatever, it’s just like, okay, peace, cause that’s my way of dealing with it…” she said. “For a long time, I feel like I had a hand to my throat…and it wasn’t just singing. I literally lost my voice because I retreated so far the other way that I was just like, ‘I’m not gonna say anything’…”
Compounding this were lifelong comparisons of the sisters’ vocal talents. Crooks had long wanted to be a singer, and felt slighted by her sister joining the industry in 2001.
“I had to sing in order for anybody to even notice I was alive because if I walked in a room beside you, who the f**k knew?” she said. “In my situation, that is what I felt like I could bring to the table that was of any worth. I didn’t consider myself to be a beautiful person, one of those women that walk into a room and turn heads – I wasn’t that.”
The pressure they faced drove them out of the limelight for several years, with Crooks sharing that she wanted to use her voice in other ways besides singing. It is with this desire that she formed Voice Box three years ago, a music program where she’s a vocal coach to children. The group had its Christmas showcase this month.
This year also saw Crooks returning to the studio, releasing the soothing serenade Surreal with Natural High Jamaica. Music aside, she also welcomed a second baby girl with husband Brandon Crooks.
“I just wanna say thank you to everyone who held my hand and believed in and with me,” she said. “The team is everything !!! Yall know who you are. To all of you who support me (even after all this time or just recently) and lift me up, I am so grateful. Finally, I encourage you, whoever you are, to keep stepping out of the comfort zone with me. We can hold each others hands as we meet the version of ourselves on the other side of the fear. Thank you oh God for an amazing year!!!!”