Meet Kristen Lee Sergeant. She is an incredible vocalist who I’ve had the honor of knowing for a few years. Recently, we’ve gotten to know each other better. We’re both quarantined in Atlanta, Georgia, and we meet once a week with family members and friends outside (maintaining social distancing, of course). Or as she describes it: “an al fresco courtyard conversation.” It’s always a fun hang. Sometimes there is pimento cheese. Sometimes there are samosas. There is always wine. Kristen’s brilliant versatility is always on display. She gives insightful commentary on what we’re drinking. And every meetup ends with her singing a few songs radiantly. She is the portfolio careerist that makes every gathering better.
- Vocalist, songwriter, arranger
- Sommelier, wine creator
On her motivations for having dual careers
“When I moved to New York City, I was pursuing a stage career. Working in wine-focused restaurants was an intuitive choice of work for me. When I unexpectedly fell in love with jazz, I needed a career that would sustain me while I was in the shed re-imagining myself as an artist. I would have told you money is what motivated me to work in wine (fine dining and retail) but looking back I can see it was also passion.”
On how long she’s had these careers
“I have sung all my life onstage — arranging and then composing came later…. I worked in hospitality sporadically since college and as a wine professional for about 8 years.”
Advice to those aspiring multi-careerists
“Always be clear on what your North Star of excellence is — in which of the two careers you must be the best there is. These two careers will battle for your time and energy and you constantly have to be clear on your priority.”
On overcoming obstacles
“It’s only a setback if you don’t learn from it. I’ve learned a lot about surrounding myself with the right people both on and off the bandstand.”
On how dual careers are mutually beneficial
“Fully engaging with all my passions makes me a more complete person, and therefore better at everything I do. In my case its more like A (music) + B (wine) = C. C being Two Notes, the wine Ted Nash and I created together.”
On Managing Personal Time
“When I was just beginning work as a professional sommelier and honing my chops as a jazz artist, there wasn’t any [time] — both pursuits were my world. Nowadays, I have much more balance. My partner, family and friends are all integral to my work — so the work pleasure balance is almost built in!”
On what she wishes she had learned earlier
“That being multifaceted is not a weakness.”
On overcoming the stigma of having dual careers
“If you’re multifaceted, you are going to break some molds. That’s not initially very appealing to someone who wants approval! I’ll always be someone who’s slightly outside of whatever world I’m in. I can now embrace and celebrate that instead of thinking I need to fit in.”
A Day in the Life
Well, the COVID era has changed things a bit, but here’s how it goes these days (any multifaceted career person has to be flexible!)
I get enough sleep. That’s really important to my health and creativity. After waking and breakfast, I spend about an hour getting myself together spiritually, mentally, physically. That can mean any number of practices.
Then I do my most demanding creative work before lunch. It’s when I’m freshest and I can bring the best of myself to my artistry.
After lunch it’s usually time to do something more administrative — music booking, social media, wine business, phone calls, etc.
In the evening I tend to slow down — it’s a great time to take in something inspiring whether that be a conversation with my partner, some music, TV, a movie. Lately I’ve been filming a lot (episodes of my show Jazz & Juice or an at-home concert) so that could be going on too.
Where to find Kristen
- Facebook, Instagram, Website (sign up for her newsletter)
- Spotify – Listen to her latest release Smoulder
- Patreon – Support her artistry
Kabir Sehgal is a Multi Grammy & Latin Grammy Award winner, as well as New York Times bestselling author of fifteen books. His latest work is Close the Loop: The Life of an American Dream CEO and His Five Lessons for Success (Hachette, 2020) with his father Raghbir Sehgal which is a Los Angeles Times & San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. Follow him on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, YouTube.