Cayman’s precious Crystal comes home

Crystal Lett is an international
model, actor and singer with strong family links to Cayman.

Ms Lett recently was on-island to
present the Young Leadership Contenders Awards at Ritz-Carlton as well as appearing
at Mardi Gras as a singer and MC. She said that it was a great experience to
come to the Island where she has many relatives and where spent most of her
formative years.

“It was cool, wonderful and amazing
to actually come to Cayman to do the work that I’d done everywhere else! I’d
done Lebanon, I’d done United States, Japan and finally being able to
come home and share that with everyone, share what I’ve been up to was great.

“I live in LA, I’ve done movies,
videos, television, my own album but never shared it with the Island so it was
amazing,” she explained.

Top of the pops

Lett’s musical career kicked off
with a bang in 1999 when her debut album made her a pop star all the way over
in Japan.
Since then she’s moved to Los Angeles
to become a successful actress and model.

One particular job put her right in
the spotlight when she was chosen by BenchWarmer trading cards as a model. Her
form and face appeared on seven different trading cards that are collected,
traded and sold in auctions worldwide. In 2006, BenchWarmer chose her to
represent the United States in its World Cup football series, promoting Cingular
Corporation as its pin-up girl. Her image was downloadable onto phones as
wallpaper, selling millions. Lett said she got a lot of fan mail from it. She retired
from modelling last year.

Things have changed a great deal in
the years that Lett has known Cayman, as she recalled.

“I grew up on Spotts
Beach by Marine Park
and my uncle lives there now. That’s where I come from. Cayman is a completely
different animal compared to when I grew up. I remember driving down Seven Mile
Beach – and you could see the beach,” she said.

Cayman taught the young Lett many
things including the multiculturalism that is a unique part of island life.

“I’m a brown-skinned girl and my
family is a rainbow coalition, which is something that makes me very proud in
this world. My cousins by blood, not marriage, are blonde-haired and blue-eyed,
all the way through to darker than me.

“This is my family and it’s really
important to me that aspect is talked about when you talk about Cayman Islands. One love, one family – I didn’t have to
be taught that. I learned it as I grew up.”

On my radio

Church is also a big memory that
Lett brings with her from her early years – that and the predominance of radio

“One of the reasons I think I got
into performance arts is that I have an imagination that was fostered by all
those old-time radio programmes – we didn’t have television so the sun would
come down and you’d go home and listen to the radio. This was not the 1950s,
this was the 1980s,” she said, laughing.

As a youngster, she said she didn’t
have much contact with tourists, usually spending her time fishing, going to
church, listening to radio and playing with her cousins. It was a completely
unknown and hidden gem, she said.

“It was an adventure growing up
here, I’d go back to the United States
to go to school and people would ask if I’d been to the Grand
Canyon! It wasn’t ’til The Firm came out that people knew about Cayman.
It was very much a secret spot for the exclusive and the reclusive. But now
it’s a party island,” said the musician.

Rock the Casbah

Ms Lett was performing in Cayman on
a temporary work permit but she explained there is an upswing in creative
artists wanting to come to the Island.

 “More and more musicians are wanting to come
to this Island to perform at better, higher levels and I want to be part of
that wave.”

This year, Lett has spent five
months in Beirut, Lebanon, to perform her music at festivals, events,
nightclubs and commercials. The performer said that it was an amazing part of
the world, which is as yet undiscovered by many artists.

“It’s the Paris of the middle east. All summer long
they’re bringing in big artists like Snoop Dogg, Pussycat Dolls and it trickles
down. Every little bar has a band playing, some kind of musical act, a Latin
act, something happening.

“Everywhere I went I was offered
jobs and that’s in the Middle East. Nobody
knows about the scene there – I’m coming out telling artists about this little
Mecca that they don’t know about and the United States Government doesn’t want
us to know about it.

“As the international performer
that I am it’s important for me to know where these spots are, to get to them
and to make my living,” explained the actor.

Love me do

Lett’s appearances in Cayman have
given her the appetite for more of the same in Cayman; a place that she said
was integral to her career and outlook.

“It was great to have my ‘secret’
island life colliding with my public persona. I’m a child of the Cayman Islands and I’ve gone far and wide over this world
so to perform here now is wonderful.

 “[My music career internationally] has been
really, really, really great and the Cayman Islands recognising that and validating
that is also great and something that is real personal to me.

“I love this place,” she added.


Singer Crystal Lett performed Stand by Me during the live portion of the show during the Young Caymanian Leadership Awards recently at the Ritz-Carlton.
Photo: Alan Markoff