A little over a year ago I got a friend request on Facebook. As I do with all friend requests to weed out spam accounts I messaged them and asked if we had ever met. They told me that they liked my work and that someday they would like to work together. Her name is Jennifer Burris, also known as Crown Vox which is her stage persona. I had been contacted by musicians and other performers before and it never really pans out so I didn’t really give it a second thought at first.
I looked through her promotional type photos and they really fit with the aesthetic I like. I then listened to her music and I was blown away. I can’t describe the music other than to say it has a dark ethereal quality to it and fit the imagery perfectly. I knew then I had to do her makeup. With her living so far away I didn’t think it would ever really happen. I maintained communication just in case she came through on tour we could set something up.
When we finally got a chance to work together nearly a year to the day after our first contact she told me about her up coming launch show The Crown Vox Experience. She described it as an all immersive experience with dancers, models, fashion, and artists. It sounded so cool and I really just wanted to see the spectacle. I jokingly asked if she had anyone to do makeup for the event. Not that I thought I would be able to do it anyhow considering the distance. She told me she already had someone which I kind of figured anyhow. We finished up the shoot and hung out and drank bourbon because when you’re in Kentucky that’s what you do.
About a month or so after the shoot, Jennifer asked if she could call me. I was afraid she wanted to talk about not liking the photos from our shoot. I told her I could call her that evening and I was anticipating the worst. Later that evening I called her and she asked if I wanted to come to do the makeup for her launch show; The Crown Vox Experience. I don’t know if I even let her get the full sentence out before I said yes.
I would not only be doing her makeup but the makeup for all six of the models plus a live body paint on a hoop dancer. That’s a lot of makeup to do in one day but I take all challenges. We talked about different looks. Some of the looks were super dramatic with different styles of Blade Runner (Pris) esque makeups. Knowing all of my makeup would have to be able to fit in a carry on luckily we went with a simplified look. We decided on a reddish smoky eye and a more muted lip with contour and gold highlight. I would add gold flake and a darker defined lip to Jennifer’s Crown Vox Look. Jennifer said she would leave the body paint up to me which I was excited about.
I Stripped out my smallest kit and rebuilt it for the show looks so it would fit as a carry on because I didn’t trust checking my makeup. After going through TSA and getting felt up pretty good I was on my way to Memphis, with a stop in Atlanta which is where I ran into an issue. I was flying standby and as it turns out it was the start of Elvis week in Memphis. Needless to say I got bumped. Jennifer’s husband Michael who arranged my travel was afraid if I waited to catch a flight in the morning and I got bumped again I wouldn’t make it in time and we couldn't risk that. There is a lot more to this part of the story but I got a rental car at 11pm and started my six hour drive to Memphis.
After a couple hours of sleep it was time to wake up and get my bearings before starting makeup at noon. I set up a makeup station to get myself ready for what I assumed would be a melee of makeup. People started trickling in to get there makeup done. Knowing I had a ton of work ahead of me Jennifer got an assistant for me for the day named Meredith Shaw. I can be a bit of a control freak and have rarely ever had an assistant. However I knew this would be too much for me to handle on my own and maintain quality work. I had Meredith start applying foundation to the models so I could focus on the eyes, lips, contour and highlight. Having Meredith there proved to be very valuable. She did a great job and I would work with her again.
After I finished up Jennifer’s makeup last I packed up my kit and headed over to the venue. The event was being held at the historic and amazing Clayborn Temple. It was a beautifully interesting place and perfect for the feel of this show. It was ornate but in disrepair in spots which made it that much cooler looking and fitting. I wanted the body paint to tie into Crown Vox and the space so I decided to do a half skull on her face like in the Crown Vox logo. I then wanted some refined gold geometric shaped surrounded by chaos.
Jennifer set me up right in the middle so I would be the first thing people saw when they walked in. The clock struck eight and the doors opened with the opening act Epps Music performing which was amazing and kind of reminded me of Coco Rosie. Ellen Phillips, the hoop dancer I was painting kind gave each other a look as if to say “here we go” as people poured in around us and I continued painting. I was very happy with the way she turned out and I felt it really fit the vibe of the show.
The models were stationed almost as guards around the venue in designs by the amazing Siss Viss and hair done by Laveau hair studio. The clothing designs fit the feel of the venue and show perfectly and really transported you into another place. Jennifer aka Crown Vox started her performance in the balcony behind and above the audience. With her beautiful voice filling the temple she strolled along to the stage in a beautifully designed dress by Siss Viss with a crown by Louisville Designer Frances Lewis helping set the mood. As she sang the models stood in formation in balconies in eye sight looking over the audience. I haven’t seen a concert like this ever because the Crown Vox Experience was so much more than just a concert.
I am so happy I got to be a part of this. Watching my body paint perform and my makeups add to the overall feel of the experience was amazing and so fulfilling. I guess the main take away from this is just because something doesn’t happen right away doesn’t mean it won’t. If you are patient sometimes things pay off far better than you could have ever expected. I met so many cool people and I really hope to do this again sometime.