We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Cross and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mary, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.

What makes me happy?  MUSIC!   WHY? Music is the Universal Language throughout the world! I recognized the significance of music as a survival mechanism from a young age. I fell in love with every aspect of music…listening to it, performing it and discovering there is soo much of it and many interpretations!  My greatest reward is the privilege to perform before a LIVE audience and their desire to enjoy my gift of song. It is indescribable!

Connecting with people is my greatest attribute! It is a gift to be able to connect with people and genuinely love on them. Seeing them as extensions of one’s self. We all want to be seen, heard, understood and loved. Music is the Universal language and it is encouraging to know one can touch a listener through their interpretation of a song!  The privilege to perform before a live audience is a natural high…from the first note to the very last!   Music excites me for it is the Gift that keeps on giving!
My childhood was tumultuous.   I was in foster care from birth through adulthood.  Music served as my therapeutic escape from the abusive situations  I was in.   I thank GOD for music!

Through feeling as if you never fit in or belonged…determination to fight the sense of rejection through over zealous attempts to please others – such coping skills were awful behavioral habits to practice – because I sought validation.  Attempts to mask the pain, being misunderstood, called peculiar and rejected served as my fuel.  Music served as my way of escaping the pain and hurt from those formidable years. I CHOSE to live, forgive and make a difference in the world by being a productive contributor to society exercising Gratitude, Peace, Love and Joy.

Music is both therapeutic and powerful. There is nothing else in the earth that can jolt a memory and take listeners back to a specific place and time. Even if only a few bars of the melody are shared!  And then there are the lyrics …how magnificently the mind brings words back to one’s remembrance as a song plays.

I am humbled to be counted among creative beings worldwide who create and express through lyrics and song! On the stage, there is nothing more wonderful than an audience member who sings along with you (whether delivering an original or cover song).  For me, it is all about how the listener felt in that moment. I believe in creating an ‘experience’. Time is a precious commodity and once spent, you cannot get it back.
This life journey provides lessons not do-overs and we must participate! This is not a spectator sport!  Dr. Maya Angelou penned: “People Will Forget What You Say, People Will Forget What You Do, But They’ll Never Forget How You Made Them Feel”. That is the sum of my  WHY!  ‘BECOMING’ is a lifelong process and Music helps me spread LOVE, JOY, PEACE & KINDNESS and every good thing before mankind.  Music is my guilty pleasure and provides an indescribable joy coupled with Passion

It takes alot of courage to choose music as a career path.  History has shown the road can be lonely and full of challenges for so many artist genius’ including Karen Carpenters, Captain and Tenielle, Nancy Wilson, Nina Simone, Phyllis Hyman, Teena Marie, Prince, Dorothy Dandridge, Amy Winhouse, to name a few.

What makes me happy?…Joy on the face of an audience member who has lent me their ear and feel what I am trying to convey in song with my vocal instrument. There is nothing more rewarding than that!

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

In addition to being Founder of 2NspireU, LLC which is not only they business name but my mission statement and the band name… as Founder of the band, I manage the song lists, rehearsals, performance bookings, and work with my team for the production of shows.

 We have a number of upcoming summer and Fall performances as well as future collaborations I am excited about!  One in particular is a One Woman Show that will be a tribute to the Music of Phyllis Linda Hyman. I will be performing: Saturday, August 7th Restart the Arts Acoustic performance accompanied by Dane Clarke; Saturday, August 14th @ 5pm Mary Cross 2NspireU is the featured artist for the annual CDC Nicetown Festival in Germantown, PA;  Saturday, September 4th performing at the All White dinner Party in Manhattan NY sponsored by Soul Night Events;  Weds, September 15th performing an acoustic performance with Dane Clarke at Dilworth Park – Center city Philadelphia at 12 noon to 1pm;  Saturday, September 25th – Lawnside Unity Day Jazz Fest Celebrating Seniors in Lawnside Park.  A number of other events are still in the works.  We are continuing to work on creating new music.  July 31 2021, Mary Cross 2NspireU was the recipient of the Tri state Black History Award.  Recognized for sharing of time and musical talents in support of Edu’Caid Africa, IDEA Performing Arts Center for Youth, Senior Organizations and Cooper University Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes and Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center.  Mary‘s ultimate goal is to become a spokesperson and advocate for foster care organizations and encourage and inspire youth who had foster care experiences.
For the past 20 years, I have been employed with Rowan Medicine (formerly UMDNJ).  I am a wife and mother to 4 adult children (the youngest graduated college in 2020).  I am grateful for the decisions and sacrifices I made in the best interest of my family.  GOD is faithful.   To have health, strength, and the ability to make music in pursuit of dreams in this latter season is a blessing!  My children are grown, productive adults and I can focus on my first love of music. GOD even saw fit that I met and established a relationship with my biological mother and sister whom I met in March 2020 as well as a host of other relatives!  I went from no family to a tribe! LOL
Keeping it real:  The pursuit of music is WORK.  Music is my first love …but as is the reality for many independent artists the day job pays the bills!  Shout out to all the fulltime musicians!  My Courageous S(Heroes)!    It takes commitment, putting in long hours… AFTER your work day is done. And the reality is, all who are part of your fan base and team have lives they return to and when they have to refocus…you have to be your biggest cheerleader (hype woman/man) exercising an unwavering determination to keep the dream alive by fanning the flame.  You must never lose sight of the reason, purpose, nor goals – despite occasional moments of weariness!  Do NOT  allow distractions, haters or hiccups to dissuade or consume you.  One of the most important things is mental wellness and rest for your body.

What I’d like to share with the world about my brand and story is simple. Throughout our lives we will meet people. First impressions are important. But just as important is our role in treating people with respect, kindness and courtesy – with no ulterior motive and expecting NOTHING  LESS for ourselves.  We are worthy and deserving of every good thing.  Your mistakes don’t define you and its important to develop a team of people with integrity (often times who are NOT part of your dna).  A small circle is far greater and more effective than a large circus of personalities with hidden agendas or mess you can’t manage.  Learn the gift of goodbye. No matter who they are!  Lastly, learn to do what needs to get done so you don’t have to rely (wait) on others to make progress.  Edit your website, create a flyer, post video footage, etc.  If those with the know how are unavailable you must be empowered to handle things as the BOSS you are!  All can agree that becomes part of the set back.  And as a woman, in a male dominated environment, know your worth and walk away when they respond to your quote to perform — with a ridiculous counter offer.

When I established my LLC, the purpose/mission statement was simple.  It must be easy to remember and state my objective clearly.   The ultimate goal remains 2NspireU.  Accomplishing that ensures I have a purpose driven, fulfilling life and that I leave the earth well spent.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have both a perspective from LA and NJ… NJ, NY, DE & PA are all in such close proximity you can hit them all:
Some of the interesting places to hang out and meet great people (pre pandemic) include:
Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles * (Borgata Spa in Atlantic City)
Hollywood Walk of Fame  * Neptune Beach and walk to LuLu’s Waterfront Grill restaurant for lunch
Madam Tussauds Museum * Museum of Natural Arts and Sciences (Philadelphia, PA)
Universal Studios *  Jamey’s House of Music, Lansdowne, PA
Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park  * SOUTH Jazz Restaurant, Philadelphia or Wilson’s Jazz Club Somerdale, NJ
Venice Beach  * Ocean City Beach (Ocean City, NJ)
Hike to the Hollywood Signs  * Morey’s Pier
Ritz Carlton Spa  *  Borgata Spa (Atlantic City, NJ) with Dinner at Kelsey’s Soul Food Restaurant
Paramount Picture Studios * Liberty State Park, New York, NY  (Liberation & Empty Sky 911 Memorial Monuments)
Grand Central Market   * Battleshipo NJ (Historic and they have great summer parties/events aboard)
Beignet Box (Christina Milano partner)  *  Cape May Park and Petting Zoo and the Cape May Beach
Brooklyn Avenue Pizza Co.  * Grounds for Sculpture 42 acre museum
In The Kitchen (Texas eatery)  * Longwood Gardens
For a GREAT meal:
Capital Grill – 9th and Figueroa  * Captial Grill in Cherry Hill, NJ at the Cherry Hill Mall
Shopping in NJ:  King of Prussia Mall is the High end mall for all day retail therapy!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many  great people who have contributed to the SUM of all I am ‘BECOMING’.  They have supported me along life’s journey and still serve as blessed ‘wind beneath my wings’ some are no long oon this side of Glory but I acknowledge their impact and influence.  I give honor to GOD who has sustained me throughout the ebs and flows and blessed me and with my family.  My husband Jeffrey D. Cross, Sr., my beloved adult children Chantille, Tiffany, Jeffrey D. & Jeffrey W, St. Matthews Baptist Church family,  Charlotte Marie Harris, Channette Orange, Joselyn Johns, Donald Robinson, Dave Wharton, Mr. Dean, Mr. Walters, Judy, Kenneth Sellers, Chef Aaron McCargo,  Helen Higgenbotham, Mangalisa, Wanda and Robert Dickerson, all who took me under their wing and looked out for me, Supporters worldwide as well as the Queens and King who continue to hold up my arms when weary!  DJ and Radio presenters worldwide (special thank you to Lee Wells, Yvon Paquette, Michael K. Amil and Kejam Majek), Ed House, Dave Young, Rowan Medicine Family, Vernick Smith, Camden High Alumni family, my beloved 2NspireU Band Family (Bruce Alford, Dane Clarke, Joe Scoodie Fisher, Daille Kettrell, Kerry Little, Martina Grant, Angel Morgan, Kenya Chambers and Lexi leCote).  A special shout out to Evelyn Holley and her family who asked me to consider recording music they could purchase.  They and countless others continue to attend my SOLD OUT performances.  Although I cannot possibly name everyone, please know you have a special place in my heart and I love you dearly.  THANK YOU for purchasing tickets / attending performances, streaming my music, creating / sharing a post, Following  me on social media and SUBSCRIBING* to my youtube channel (Mary Cross Music).   *I am on a quest to gain ARTIST status and need 364 more youtube subscribers.  I would be so grateful if you’d take time to do so!  

To the team of VoyageLA Magazine, I sincerely thank you for this platform to share my story, my music and my road to BECOMING with the hope 2NspireU…and others.  What I know for sure… You are never too old, too young, too inexperienced, too tall, too short, too big, too small, too (fill in the blank).  All it takes to begin is the first step and the determination to commit and not quit when the low periods come.  (Remember, things come…to pass!)  Hang on and know that trouble doesn’t last aways.  Your scars are your beauty marks on your road to greatness.  You do not see what we see in you but someone is INSPIRED by your existence and journey.  We must NOT take lightly those who believe in our gift(s)….  These acts of  Loving kindness bring me the greatest JOY.  I wish love for all and share this quote for each of you reading this:   “May each space you occupy be better off…simply because YOU passed through.”  – Mary Cross

Website: marycrossmusic.com

Instagram: Instagram.com/2NspireU

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-cross-8406b3107/

Twitter: Twitter.com/MaryCrossSings

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Crossmary

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/marycross2nspireu/videos

Other: Tiktok: @2NspireU

Image Credits
J Beauty Photography

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