Found just off of Johnston Street in Lafayette, Louisiana, The Music Box helps provide voice lessons for small town students with very big dreams.

Founded by California-native Katie Crist, Crist’s love for music began as a kid, before she started getting work in her late teens and early twenties as the voice of Barbie and then singing backup for Jessica Simpson on tour.

“It was an absolute rush, I mean, just to get to be on stage with someone who I admired so much and to get to experience real touring,” Crist says.

After meeting her now husband, the two moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, and people began to ask Crist if she taught singing lessons. She went to a talent agency and met a group of young students looking for a popular music vocal coach.

“I fell in love with developing the youth, the talented kids in our area. It’s like music culture is so rich in Louisiana, and I felt so excited and honored to be able to bring real music industry experience to this incredible, arts rich community,” Crist says.

As the years went on, the roster of students began to expand along with the staff. Crist eventually moved her business to a bigger facility in its current location, where the amount of young artists enrolling for music lessons has only grown.

“It’s a heartfelt mission that we’re working to develop confidence and creativity. And I’m just completely honored, you know, to be in the position that I’m in to get to lead the ship. So yeah, I mean, it blows me away, I can’t believe this is what I get to do for work,” Crist says.

Crist’s coaching not only continues to impact her students’ musical capabilities, but her story of taking risks and starting her own business to see such great success inspires Music Box alumni such as Maddy Thibodeaux long after they’ve left the roster of students.

“Thinking about it now, and like, being older, knowing how hard that had to have been, and how risky that was for her to just drop everything and move somewhere complete new, she is a boss. She is wow, like that’s insane. And to have the time to like give that one on one experience to all of her students as well,” Thibodeaux says.

Former student and intern for the Music Box, Cassidy Oberleitner, says that so much of what she learned from Crist she continues to use in her adult life and as a performer.

“I just have so much respect for how many risks she takes and how she perseveres, you know? And she gets stuff done, and it’s just really inspiring to see her success, and at the same time, it’s like, she’s just such a selfless person,” Oberleitner says.

Looking back at her younger self and then to her family and students that are now a part of her world, Crist feels blessed that her journey in life led her to where she is today.

“Moving from a big city to a small town is a big decision, and The Music Box has given me so much clarity that it was where I was supposed to end up. And just having a purpose and a passion and being able to contribute is the most fulfilling thing ever,” Crist says.

And what advice does Crist have for those young ambitious artists out there that are struggling as she once had?

“It’s the hard stuff that makes it so much more meaningful and all the challenges that you have to overcome that makes the I guess progress - I don’t even like to say success because it’s constant, right? - makes the progress so worthwhile.”

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