( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Charyn Harris is Here to Help Women Succeed in the Music Industry with Her New Book
ENSPIRE Contributor: Natalie Dean
No one knows the music industry quite like Charyn Harris. With over 35 years of experience, she has truly learned the ins and outs of the musical world like no other. She has been working tirelessly behind the scenes and on stage for countless projects, including teaching for multiple educational programs, working as a tour manager, being the only female keyboardist to play alongside R&B legend Barry White, and much more. Being a woman in a male-dominated field, she is dedicated to being the best version of herself, but also to help other women reach and surpass their own dreams.
With all this experience, Harris has passed on her knowledge to the public as her new book, The Art of War for Creatives. This book compiles her knowledge and experience so readers get the best strategies for elevating their mindset, building a career blueprint, and growing their talent.
Charyn Harris recently spoke with ENSPIRE to impart her wisdom unto our readers:
As an author, educator, motivational speaker, musician, and music business pro, how do you do it all? And what has breaking into all these industries been like for you?
I have a lot of creative energy. It can be a challenge when I’m immersed in campaigns or projects for my clients. I’m not playing a lot at the moment and do it just for fun at this point until more time frees up. When I commit to a project, I have to be careful to organize my time. I don’t want to spread myself too thin and not get anything completed. A lot of times I’m multitasking. When I am building a project for myself, I have to block off at least 3 to 4 hours with no disruptions to focus. I love working when I am traveling. I will sometimes arrive at the airport extra early and find a spot to perch just so I can have uninterrupted time to get some work done.
As far as breaking into the various industries, It was a process. What helped me was getting to know people who were doing things I wanted to do. When I first started as a musician, there was no internet. There were a few publications that had classified ads looking for musicians. There were also local musicians who introduced me to others and would encourage me. Pretty soon, I was pretty deep in building a community of musicians. I had some friends who were more on the business side of music, which introduced me to a totally different area. I would attend music conferences and met people who worked in publishing, A&R, promotion, entertainment law, management, etc.
Connecting with people and keeping in touch is a good habit to have. It was always natural for me to stay connected; I guess because my mom was really great in this area. I’m also thorough in my approach to projects, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by my peers, fortunately. We have the advantage of social media now, so I will often post about projects past and present that I have worked on and often receive inquiries. Starting and sustaining relationships with people is an important skill to master. People will often start working with you based on your ability to connect, especially if they see you are consistent. I have also been fortunate to have positions carved out for me based on my skill set. I feel that my most important asset is my ability to adapt and integrate a high level of creativity. I am always looking at how I can make anything I work on stand out.
What has motivated you to be so productive and achieve so many things?
Passion and vision are at the forefront of what I do. When I started playing music, I had no plan. I just wanted to do it. When I look back, there were projects I should’ve stepped away from sooner than I did. Ether way, there is always a lesson to be learned. If I see something, I want to turn it into a reality. I have to pick and choose my battles carefully. Some projects demand a wider capacity, so it’s important that I check in and make sure that I have bandwidth and support to see it through successfully.
What can readers expect to learn from your new book, The Art of War for Creatives?
I’m really proud of this book. People can expect content that will help them learn how to look at themselves and check-in to make sure they are being their personal best, doing their personal best, and not sabotaging their success. Success looks different for everybody. I aim to help creatives find their happy place and strengthen their skillset in building their career path.
Even though I graduated with a degree in music, there were so many gaps I discovered I had. I used to feel inadequate because I didn’t learn how to make sure I was complete as a person. This book draws upon the strategies of Sun Tzu, who was a military strategist. I go into depth about dealing with personalities, ego, imposter syndrome, and other pain points that might cause barriers. We should all feel free to be creative. It’s not just about being a star, but expressing one’s self freely and with conviction more than anything else.
You are dedicated to helping women in the music industry succeed. What inspires you to work with these women, and what have you learned from working with them? What have you learned yourself, as a woman in the music industry?
Being a woman in any industry can be a challenge. I’ve been fortunate to develop a good amount of strength over the years. I’m also older now, so I’ve developed a heightened sensitivity to my environment and how I present myself. I don’t settle for anything that does not resonate with me. People aren’t always receptive to unsolicited advice, so once someone directly asks me how to make a change, I’m happy to offer my insight. We can’t change people, but we can make changes within ourselves that will inspire how people interact with us. This is an important practice. We have to think about how we evolve, not be afraid to evolve. I love helping women find their strength and stick with it.
A lot of women automatically place themselves in a position of inferiority. I speak to a lot who are bitter and don’t understand the industry, especially since it leans towards being male-dominated. Let’s remove gender. For me, it’s important to relate as a person first. The ego can truly interfere based on gender. It’s unnecessary. I’ve worked with some amazing musicians of all genders. I’ve seen both males and female-run the gamut of emotions. Maybe I’m a little different since I’m from New York. I have developed extremely thick skin and I don’t fold when someone takes a jab at me, which has happened. I never entered the music industry looking for any kind of relationship, which I think can be difficult for women, depending on how strong they are. We have to be very protective of ourselves and not afraid to walk away from anything that is toxic. I feel very fortunate that I have sustained so many positive relationships with men who are very protective of me. I have had a few negative interactions but I don’t let them define me and fortunately nothing that was emotionally damaging. My biggest piece of advice is 1) learn how to manage your emotions and expectations and 2) never take on the role of a victim.
I’ve learned that I’m more powerful than I thought and my power can be intimidating. If someone is intimidated, I’m not the problem; that person needs to figure out how to evolve because I already have. I’d like to add that I am not coming from a place of being egotistical but being confident and sure of myself. I’m often told that I’m extremely humble.
Tell us about some of your current projects! What are you working on, and what is exciting for you
I’ve been focused on my personal projects which include promoting my book and speaking engagements. I am launching a podcast of SIRIUS XM called “The Charyn Harris Experience,” where I interview individuals that played a role in spawning iconic movements in culture and music. I also have my client base which includes Macy Gray and Melanie Charles. Two amazing artists. Macy of course has had an extensive career spanning over twenty years while Melanie is a new artist on the Verve label. I’m working on a collection of Macy’s inspirational and profound quotes that I will be presenting as a journal and in a box of cards. I enjoy mentoring and am looking forward to sharing my message with more creatives around the globe. When I am trying to wind down, I love traveling, spa days, cooking, and hanging with family and friends. I haven’t been good at just being still and doing nothing. I’m getting there. It’s a great diversion. I also love home improvement projects. Planning renovations on my home over the next year, which is exciting to me as well.
Charyn Harris has spent her life in the music industry. Her commitment to helping others find their stride within such a difficult industry is commendable. She is the perfect teacher for anyone who needs a bit of coaching before setting out to achieve their dreams.
To check out The Art of War for Creatives, click here!
And to keep up to date with Charyn Harris, click here!