Psalm Onea queer rapper from Chicagowill take the stage at the annual Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest on Friday, Aug. 19, at 8:15 p.m.
"I'm really, really excited to perform," she told Windy City Times. "I'm nervous, but it's a good nervous. I'm looking forward to seeing old fans and hopefully some new ones."
Before taking on the stage name Psalm One, Cristalle Bowen grew up in Englewood. She described herself as a "weird kid" who had to balance attending private school while living in an underserved community.
"I have a duality," Bowen said. "So in my music, I talk a lot about class politics. I talk a lot about sexual identity and queer acceptance. But really, I just talk about love quite a bit, whether that's loving someone else or loving myself, just that journey of self-acceptance."
Bowen is releasing her 10th studio album, Bigg Perrm, on Sept. 2 and she plans to preview a few songs when she performs this weekend.
When it comes to her style of music, Bowen said she "tries not to stay in one place for too long."
"I dig melody and I have a lot of different flows," Bowen said. "My sound is quintessentially hip-hop, but it has flavors of all kinds of other genres in it."
A "writer at heart," Bowen also released her first book this summer. The novel, "Her Word Is Bond: Navigating Hip Hop and Relationships in a Culture of Misogyny," chronicles her experiences growing up to become a chemist and a rapper.
Bowen released her first album on her own in 2002 while she was studying biochemistry at the University of Illinois. A few years later, in 2006, Bowen got a record deal with the independent label Rhymesayers Entertainment and left her job as a chemist to pursue music.
Bowen stopped working with Rhymesayers Entertainment in 2015 and challenged the label's practices toward womenshe had been the only woman signed to the label in its history.
That same year she self-released the albums "P.O.L.Y. (Psalm One Loves You)" and "Gender Fender Bender" as well as organized her own U.S. tour. She was also a part of a group called Rapperchicks, which also released its debut album in 2015, titled "Shitty Punk Album."
"If you listen to my catalog from like back in the day to now, you really hear that growth and that self-acceptance, that, I might be a weird person, but I'm here and I'm rapping good as hell and I enjoy it," Bowen said.
These days, Bowen continues to release music independently through her Bandcamp site, where fans can purchase her music directly. At first, she used it mainly to connect with fans and built a community on the site by releasing her music for free.
"I realized a lot of people who truly wanted to support me would still pay for my music even if they could get something for free," Bowen said. "That was really cool for me. Bandcamp has been a huge part of how I keep in touch with my supporters but also allows me to monetize my art and have more control over it."
In addition to prolifically releasing music, Bowen said she strives to "have a presence" in the community she grew up in part by teaching young people to express themselves through music.
She's also helped redistribute thousands of dollars to families in need through her work with the S.H.I.F.T. Cooperative, an organization founded by one of her long-time music collaborators, Angel Davanport.
"I feel like hip hop is one of the most globally recognizable and influential genres of the past 50 years, it has a huge cultural impact," Bowen said. "For me, I just want to make sure I'm authentically me and that I show up where I can. If that's going into schools and teaching some kids to rap or creating opportunities for them to explore their own musical talents, then I'm all with it."
To learn more about Psalm One, visit www.psalmonelovesyou.com or psalmone.bandcamp.com/music.
For more information about S.H.I.F.T. Cooperative, visit theshiftcooperative.com .
For more information about the Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest, visit www.glenwoodave.org/glenwood-ave-arts-fest.