Y’Anna Crawley BET Sunday Best Season 2 Winner – Crawley, who grew up in the Southeast Washington neighborhood of Marshall Heights, smiles and tries to quell the giddiness rising up within. “It’s still surreal for me,” Crawley says. “People doubted me. I’m 32 with two kids. I thought the industry would say, ‘She’s too old. Washed up.’ But to go on ‘Sunday Best’ and win speaks to the truth God keeps promises. To know everything I dreamed about is coming true. Everything I’ve gone through from 12 up, singing background vocals, has prepared me for this moment.”
Not that long ago, she was just a single mother with two kids — a 2-year-old and a 14-year-old — money running low, no car, wondering whether she would ever make it.
Crawley had been through job after job, quitting because something kept telling her the job as a teller at the bank wasn’t her, wasn’t her “passion.” The job at Target was fine, but did not fill that nagging. Hair school was tedious. “I never finished anything,” she says, sipping water. All she knew was she wanted to sing. Her family knew she could sing. Her friends knew it. “Y’Anna has been singing this way since elementary school,” says her friend John Hart. She sang lead in Eastern Senior High School’s famous choir, whose esteemed director, Joyce Garrett, taught Crawley classical, jazz, soul and gospel. She traveled the world with the choir.
Crawley graduated in 1995. Years passed, speeding by. She hit 25, 29, 30 — knowing the music industry likes them young. Her big voice got her gigs at local clubs, in go-go competitions and singing backup vocals during concerts by such stars as Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Anita Baker, Jennifer Lopez. She sang lead vocals for the local R&B and jazz band Lissen. In 2005, “American Idol” came to town. Crawley stood in line at the auditions. She sang Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Main Source: Washington Post.