By Thomas K. Pendergast – Richmond Review June 2013
In times of crisis, it is difficult to see any good that might come from tragedy. It is in precisely such times, however, that faith in love is most important because it is often the best response to fear, and Gypsy Love knows this.
The San Francisco native and Richmond District resident is scheduled to perform at the Gay Pride celebration on June 30, where she’ll sing her distinctly positive brand of House-Pop dance music in the Castro District, the area that drew her back to the City from the East Bay.
A combination of personal tragedy and a love of music that she learned from her family while growing up led to her current career path. This combination is why the singer-songwriter crafts her songs to emphasize the positive over the negative, love over fear.
“Even if we were doing chores around the house my dad would have the Beatles on or Elvis. The dawn of that age was really resonating in our house because that’s what my parents grew up on,” says Gypsy Love (real name Christina Nicholas). “They had boxes of 45 (rpm) records. We’d have dance parties in our living room and my parents would teach us the Mashed Potato and The Twist, and all those dance moves I equated with joy. I recognized at a very early age how dance inspires joy, in my opinion the closest you can get to spirit. Music and laughter are the closest you can get to spirit.”
Although she grew up mostly in Fremont, Love returned to the City after she discovered the Castro and the dance clubs there.
“It was really kind of a freedom-loving, colorful display of art and music together,” she recalls. She said a few years ago she had a job that paid six-figures, doing sales for the “high tech” industry, with top-tier clients like Wells Fargo Bank. But her success did not make her happy. At the same time, a friend introduced her to a producer in the music industry and eventually she wound up working with the famous musician and producer Claytoven Richardson.
Yet it was a struggle to keep up with both her demanding job and blossoming music career.
“I would be literally leaving a meeting at Wells Fargo and changing in my car to get to the Lookout for my performance. I found it difficult to freely get to share experiences, my daily experiences with my clients,” she says. “It was just frowned upon to discuss anything outside of engineering project management. Which I can understand but at the same time I was more concerned with generating a positive feeling of unity, as opposed to bottom line, bottom line, bottom line all the time.”
It was then that her husband of eight years, himself a scientist involved in stem-cell research, pulled an intervention, of sorts.
“My husband is my number-one fan and I probably would not have taken the leap had it not been for his support,” she explains. “We’ve been together for many years and he was truly the one who was like: ‘Listen to me. You’re not doing anyone a favor by suppressing who you really are.’”
So now, two record labels and four EPs later, she finds herself performing at least once and sometimes several times a month, mostly in the dance clubs but often for various AIDS-related charities.
She doesn’t help raise money for AIDS-related causes just because it’s politically correct or in vogue. She has a more personal reason for using her talents to raise both awareness and funds to fight the disease.
“My grandfather died of AIDS. I’ve seen many people die of AIDS but that was the one that hit me the closest. I was 17 at the time and I was very sheltered at that stage of my life,” she says. “I didn’t see, thankfully, a whole lot of loss in my life but when I saw him die I saw the lack of awareness and knowledge of the virus that was existing in my community,” Love said.
“What I’ve experienced first-hand is how AIDS shines a light on how we love. Whether that be how we react when we know somebody has been diagnosed with AIDS or how the people who are infected with AIDS forgive themselves. There’s a lot of shame, unfortunately, associated with that disease and there shouldn’t be.”
She recalls that 10 days after he died, her grandfather came to her in a dream and put his arm around her, as they walked to the end of the block where she grew up.
“It was such a vivid dream I could smell him,” she says. “I woke up feeling so much more at peace because I felt like, OK, I got to actually hug him and touch him in my dream. We weren’t allowed to do that for a long time before he died, like the last couple of years of his life.
“That’s what struck me more and I thought to myself ‘this is the opposite of what we should be doing as a nation. We should be embracing our brothers and sisters who have been struck by this disease. This should enhance our love and our compassion, and instead it instilled so much fear.’ … And that is a common thread in my music. There’s a song called “Choose Love,” where the lyrics are ‘strength doesn’t come from fear. It comes from love. Love builds; fear breaks down.”
For more information about Gypsy Love, go to the website at www.gypsyloveproductions.com.