Tell us your name and where you are from?

 

My birth name is Kelsey Elizabeth McJunkins, but I go by Kelsey Lu. I was born in Charlotte, NC but I like to say I personally “grew up” in Winston Salem, NC where I went to North Carolina School of the ARTS.

 

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How long have you been natural?

 

I have been natural for 8 years now. WOW! I haven’t thought about it until now. I am interracial, and when I was a little girl I had long beautifully curly healthy hair down to my butt. I would go over to my cousin’s house who lived on a lake, had long straight beautifully blonde hair and would get anything they wanted and would wish that I had the same things they did which included the long straight hair. It wasn’t just my cousin’s that influenced my young naive decision to put horrible chemicals into my hair. My older sister got a relaxer and I wanted to do everything SHE did so after she got it of course I wanted it too. At that time, getting a perm was what was up, almost every black girl had one. I was bullied a lot in elementary and middle school because I was different, and it wasn’t until I got older that I realized it was out of their own insecurities. When I left home and decided to go down my own path in life, I went natural. It was pretty symbolic I’d say.

 

kelsey and older sister, Jessica

Sister on left and lil me on right

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What do you do? Is there a resistance or compatibility with your hair in your field of work?

 

I am a Musician who’s forte is Cello and my vocal chords though I dabble in a bit of everything.


 
I would say there’s both. There’s a resistance to be natural for some because they are being told by someone else that they need to look a certain way to succeed. Prime example- I was in Atlanta a few years ago recording cello for a well known artist’s album (who’s name with remain anonymous), and their then Manager, who was at the time A&R for Universal, was talking to me about what I need to do to “make it”. “Now, if I bring you to the label and they tell you they like everything about you and you have everything they want, but they want you to straighten you hair. Would you do it? This is something you need to seriously think about if you want to make it in the industry.”

 

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Photo: Backyard Bill

 

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Being natural is so very compatible with being an artist. You’re showing off the fact that you are you and nobody else. Isn’t that the point of being an artist? You’re expressing yourself, you’re sharing who you are with the world, you’re trying to be as “different” as possible. It’s like you’re own independence. I would like to add that my new hair obsession is wigs. Really long, really loud wigs. It is soooo much fun to wear a wig! It’s like you’re inventing this new extension to yourself that you never knew existed and you can always go back to your hair bc it’s STILL THERE! It’s under there! right there! I can have long fire engine red hair one day and then my beautiful afro the next. It’s a lot of fun!

 

Orange Peel Asheville, NC

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Describe your hair.

 

HAHA hmmmm a mess. but it’s my big beautiful mess that is always changing.

 

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What is your hair regimen?

 

I am seriously JUST hopping on the hair management train. I didn’t know that you needed to care for it naturally, just as much as you would if it had chemicals in it. I also have been too broke in the past to buy good products, so I’m still experimenting on what products to use on my hair. So far though, I always sleep with my hair either wrapped in a silk wrap, or a silk scarf on my pillow. That has seriously helped keep the dryness at bay. I recently started using Mixed Chick’s Kid’s Shampoo, and I can totally tell the difference. I use Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner. When I get out of the shower, I immediately section my hair into four parts and apply Shea Moisture coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Style Milk from root to tip and let it air dry. In the mornings after sleeping on the curls and having them go flat, I spray some Shea Moisture Mist Curl Reviver. It’s light and smells good and gets curls perky again.

 

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What are the three biggest factors you attribute to your length?

 

Time

Consistent trims (I need to be better at this lol)

I need some more tips on this one ;)

 

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What is your usual go to style?

 

Fro

 

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What is your nighttime routine?

 

Silk Scarf!

 

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Your top three favorite products and why?

 

Shea Moisture – It works and is affordable.

Mixed Chicks Kids- It works and is less expensive than most.

I don’t have a third favorite YET

 

Your best hair advice?

 

Let it be who it wants to be!

 

 

NC Beaches

Studio Bunnin'

 

Ultimate hair crush

 

Your twin, TK Wonder. lulzzz That’s really hard, I love so many different types of hair! hmmm I’ll just stick to who I looked at with natural hair when I first made the decision to go natural, and that’s my icon in many ways, Lisa Bonet.

 

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What is the strangest comment, request or hair story?

 

There was one day about 6 years ago, when I wanted to randomly go to a salon and get my hair straightened. I was living in Winston Salem, NC and there weren’t many options on good hair salons. I also wasn’t thinking very hard about it, so I just went to SuperCuts (that was my downfall). I waited for 30 min to sit in the chair for the hairdresser look at me like ‘wtf am I supposed to do with this hair’ and then TELL me with her slow southern draw “I’m sorry, I just don’t know how to do your hair. I went to beauty school in Fayetteville, and I just never had to work on hair like yours.” I was so shocked I just dropped my jaw, walked out the door and sat in my car for like 10 min in absolute disbelief of what just happened.

 

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How would you describe your personal fashion style?

 

Eclectically Evolving

 


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Photo: Backyard Bill 

 

What advice would you give to people who might be afraid to show their true fashion sense or natural hair for fear of being judged by others?

 

Frack everybody else! This is YOU, and nobody can take that away. Your style and your personality is your OWN, so OWN it! If people are judging you or telling you that your true fashion sense or natural hair is wrong then you’re doing something right.

 

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What would you say to others who judge individuals negatively for their personal fashion style?

 

You should learn to love yourself more

 

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When it comes to your style who, what or where does your inspiration come from?

 

The Earth, Space, NYC, my mom in the 60′s , Lisa Bonet and last but not least from inside myself.

 

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Lisa Bonet

 

If you could name one person whose closet you would love to raid, who would it be?

 

Beyonce

 

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Favorite stores and places to shop for vintage or thrift

 

Mega Thrift in NC, really ANY thrift stores in NC are the BOMB but I can’t give my best kept secrets away ;) . In NYC, I love Fox & Fawn. They hand select great things(be careful), and their prices aren’t ridiculous! But then there’s always Beacon’s Closet GEEZ, you can spend a lifetime in there looking through everything its CRAZY!

 

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What is your earliest memory of music?

 

Sitting in my mom’s lap while she played piano. Feeling the vibrations through the wood and trying to press down on an ivory key that was as wide as my hand.

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If you could jam with any three musicians, past or present who would they be?

 

ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!?!?! THAT’S SO HARD, OMG. Ok, I’m just going to say what first pops up in my mind. Coltrane, Beethoven and Jimi. ugh.

 

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Who have you collaborated with? 
 

I have collaborated with a few different artists. Kyp Malone (from TV on the Radio), Nappy Roots, Organized Noize , 9th Wonder’s label JAMLA and several other artists from different parts of the musical world. Last year I collaborated with a modern dance choreographer and got to perform my original composition at the Lincoln Center.

 

This year I was fortunate enough to collaborate with Kyp Malone and several other predominant African American artists on film, ‘How Do You Say Yam In African’
that will be screened at the Whitney Museum, during the opening week of The Whitney Biennial.
 
40 akerz and I backstage post performance

 

 
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You are in recently released David O Russell film, ‘American Hustle’, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper. Tell us a bit about your part and the experience?
 
 
American Hustle! Yes! I was involved in that thanks to my dear friend, Deva Mahal (Taj Mahal’s daughter). I’ve worked with her musically several times and she asked me if I wanted to audition for the part with her, and of course I said yes! So they wanted an all black soul band for the part and they got one. It was a blast! We stayed in Boston for a couple of nights, shot for a whole day, were treated like stars and got to experience what it’s like to be in a movie! We met all the actors/actresses and worked with them for the scene. It was really cooool. It was funny because I suppose they had just gotten the script and were shooting a scene they were unfamiliar with, so when it was Jeremy Renner’s lines, he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do, so he turned around and I happened to be standing directly behind him so he looked at me with a sort of panicky look on his face and said something like, “What am I supposed to do here?” and I was like “uuuhhhh” how should I know?!
 
 
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Current music playlist and favorite book

 

The Sounds of Rain is my current music playlist and my favorite book is The Owl and The Pussycat

 

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Most embarrassing moment

 

Falling off of stage in the middle of a performance.

 

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What is your favorite life lesson

 

To love life through creativity is to be intimate with life’s inmost secrets.

 
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Favorite restaurant and dish you would not want to live without

 

Chicken Coop in Charlotte, NC. It’s a landmark and has the best fried chicken in the world. I wouldn’t be able to live without French Onion Soup.

 
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Favorite place you have traveled to or your ultimate destination

 

I’d have to say Dominican Republic. I stayed in a small mountainous rural town called La Vega for 3 weeks. I stayed with a couple that live there and got to see and experience how people really live there. My ultimate destination- Africa.

 
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Outside of Cabin at Music Festival in Iowa

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Do you have a blog/website?

 

I am working on my solid website right now. But you can check me out at soundcloud , YouTube or instagram me! @kelseylu69

 

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Anything else?

 

Love is the center of everything.

 

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What makes you an Urban Bush Babe?

 

I’m not afraid of showing people who I am and being proud of it. I am also not afraid to tell someone that I admire, that I admire them. I was brought down a lot throughout my life for the way that I look and the way that I dress, but here I am. Strong as ever. No bitterness or anger, just love.

 

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