The Rocks Off 100: Kristine Mills, Houston's Brassiest Voice

Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there, too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Who? Nobody puts Baby into a corner, and nobody puts singer Kristine Mills into a box.

"I have musical ADD," Mills told us during a phone interview. "I'm not just a jazz singer. I'm not just a blues singer. I'm not just a Bossanova singer."

What Mills most closely identifies her singing as, she says, is "sweaty jazz" or "bluesy jazz." She enjoys taking the best of a variety of musical genres and remixing them into her own musical soup.

"I like to take the music icons of a generation (from Mozart to Miles Davis) and make a nod to [them]."

The formula works well. Rocks Off has bestowed Best of Houston® titles on her twice: Best Female Vocalist in 2009 and Best Songwriter in 2010.

Home Base: Mills is a native Houstonian. She says she tries to be disciplined about writing and recording in her at-home studio, but keeps a guitar, a pen and paper next to her bed-stand just in case inspiration strikes her.

"Just in case" happens more often than not; Mills has found inspiration on an airplane once; on the back porch in Brazil, where her husband is from; and, yes, in bed. However, you won't find Mills doing any songwriting right now.

"Right now," she said, "I'm trying not to create," in order to "focus on the new album." (Tonight at Warehouse Live, Mills will host a CD release party for that very album, called As Yet Untitled.)

Why Do You Stay in Houston: "My family's here in Houston," said Mills, adding, "Houston's such a freakin' awesome place to live." Though singing has afforded her opportunities to visit and perform all over the world, she loves the diversity that this city has to offer. "It's such a cosmopolitan place to live."

Good War Story: Mills had just finished performing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in São Paulo, Brazil. When they called her back for a bow, she rushed to the stage, unaware of the air-conditioner cord lurking in her path.

"I fell on my ass," she laughed. "I was black and blue after. Nobody caught it -- except for the pianist."

Music Scene Pet Peeve: "That there's not enough venues."

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
  • Corinne Bailey Rae, Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Led Zeppelin, The Best of Led Zeppelin, Vol. 1
  • Stan Getz, The Essential Stan Getz
  • The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow

First Song You Fell in Love with: Mills remembers "Aquarius," a song from the musical Hair, as her first love. "I sang that song when I was three years old in preschool," she said.

See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.

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Altamese Osborne
Contact: Altamese Osborne