Anitra Jay's Not-So-Heavy Crown

Crown's spare sound is something like the lost tapes of an unvarnished India.Arie, with its acoustic guitar and hand claps.

For a period of six months in 2010, going to a restaurant, sitting in the coffee shop or browsing at the grocery store were all unsettling experiences for singer-songwriter Anitra Jay. She had just done the "big chop," cutting off a lifetime's length of silky, chemically straightened locks in order to get acquainted with her own natural hair, and the introduction was going a bit rocky.

Anytime strangers whispered or giggled, she wondered if they were laughing at her. "I wondered, 'Do they think I'm a dude?'" she recalls. Fat chance, with her slim build and high cheekbones, but she took to wearing a full face of makeup and oversized earrings to compensate for barely there curls. It's not like she wasn't getting affirmation at home. Her husband and bandmate, Rob Schultz, was very supportive.

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