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Kym Mazelle and Donald Thompson at the piano

Kym Mazelle returns home to take care of some chores

Contributed By:The 411 News

Gary artist traveled across the ocean to get her just due

“As a kid I had visions of me being an entertainer, going overseas,” says Kym Mazelle. Many of those artists she admired had travelled across the waters to get their just due.

Now, with a 30-year career of performing around the world, Mazelle was back in Gary, this time to take care of some chores in her hometown.

She arrived in early November to join in the 50th anniversary celebration for former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson honored her with the Gary Legends Award.

She was an artist-in-residence at Aspire Academy in Gary.

“I’m Gary to the core,” Mazelle says, although she has lived in London for the last 25 years. She, too, crossed the waters to get her just due.

Kym has the distinction of being the first House music artist to be signed by a major record label, EMI. She’s known as pioneering House music in Europe.

She was a member of the English musical ensemble Soul II Soul, writing and performing lead vocals on their hit “Missing You.”

Her single “Young Hearts, Run Free,” a remake of the Candi Staton hit, was on the soundtrack for the modern film version of Romeo + Juliet (1996).

Her dad, John Grigsby was one of Richard Hatcher’s early supporters urging him to run for mayor when he was a city councilman. “The Mayor has told me the story of how my dad came to his office and dropped off thousands of petitions that people had signed for him to run,” Mazelle said. “At 8-years-old, I was with my dad campaigning, going to churches and meetings. I licked stamps and envelopes, folded letters and knocked on doors with my dad for Hatcher’s first two campaigns.”

As Mazelle describes it, there wasn’t a direct path or plan to a career as a performer, “I just saw people around me making moves. Richard Hatcher became the United States first black mayor. I saw the Jacksons rehearse at Steeltown Records, two houses down from me and next they were on television. I saw my mom Theresa Grigsby being discouraged from opening up a corner barber shop but she did it. I just knew there was a way.”

Although she sang in choirs and performances at Horace Mann, Mazelle first went to Ivy Tech to become a computer programmer. “I went back to Wilton Crump, my music teacher at Horace Mann who arranged a music scholarship to Lincoln University in Missouri.” She came back a single parent. Off to Mundelein College, where she was accepted in the dorm along with her baby. In the college’s music education program, she became an exchange student at Chicago’s Columbia College.

Mazelle learned the business side of music at Columbia, studying entertainment management and entertainment law, and accepting every internship that she could.

Chicago is the birthplace of House music and Mazelle joined the performance scene. When she learned her single “Taste My Love,” which was on her own label, was on the charts in England, she didn’t need a manager. “I got a call from England to perform in a showcase. They wanted to know who to talk to. I told them, you’re talking to her.” The year was 1988; before leaving for London, her father was murdered.

From that showcase, Mazelle received multiple recording contract offers. She went on to make several top hits in the UK and signed with EMI, the British recording conglomerate. After 5 years of commuting between the continents, Mazelle decided to make her base in London.

Every performing arts student needs to hear her story, said Donald Thompson, head of the performing arts program at Aspire Academy. Thompson is a visiting professor at the London Academy of Musical and Dramatic Arts. He saw Kym last summer, persuading her to be his artist-in-residence. For their Christmas holiday show, Kym was the lead vocalist backed up by a chorus of Aspire students.

Mazelle spent time at Aspire talking to students. “I tell my students at Aspire that I came from Gary, Indiana and I had just as many challenges as they do. I tell them I’ve been all over the world, but I always come back home. I tell them not to follow the pipedreams they see on TV and to believe in the things they do well.”

Mazelle returns to London in a few days, and then she’ll head to Switzerland for concerts. She has branched out into television series and documentaries, and has created Kym Mazelle Ministries.

Kym Mazelle and Donald Thompson at the piano

At Mayor Richard Hatcher’s 50th anniversary celebration in November: (l-r) Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mazelle, and Val Warner.

Story Posted:01/22/2018

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