INSIDE THE INDUSTRY On the Move with New Orleans’ Favorite Gullah Girl: Kyndra Joi

By Alicia Needham


As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 21 – Fall 2022

On any given day, Kendra Joi Parsons, known professionally as Kyndra Joi, can be found hosting/emceeing an event, leading a wellness workshop, performing with her band Soul Theory, or serving children as a licensed social worker. This summer, I first encountered Kyndra at the 30th annual Cutting Edge CE Conference and Events artist showcase at the historic Carver Theater in New Orleans. As the MC for the evening, her warm, positive energy and hilarious commentary captivated the audience, making everyone feel comfortable, embraced, and accepted. 

Though it was a rainy Saturday afternoon, the multi-passionate creative took a break from her day and hopped in her car to chat about the power of breath, how to prioritize self-care, and how she balances it all. Packed with all her car essentials, Kyndra proceeds to light incense as she says, “Listen, [the world] ain’t going to change too much, baby. That’s why you got to do your own self-care.” The meditation and mindfulness teacher knows firsthand that the energy you put out is the energy you will receive and always remembers to cleanse her spirit through rituals. She ensures that her car is stacked with books, her computer, WiFi, incense, frankincense, water, shoes, mask, and self-defense items. To which she chuckles, “I live in New Orleans.”

Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, Kyndra is the only daughter out of four boys. Known as New Orleans’ favorite Gullah girl, Kyndra explains that “Gullah people are the closest thing to African in the United States, even though New Orleans claims that they are the most African city…” With Ann Caldwell and The Magnolia Singers, Kyndra has sung Gullah spirituals; once, in an actual slave house. In one instance, she remembers the chills she felt during the experience and says, “Spirits are real, ancestors are real, God is real, Holy Spirit is real…You just got to know that you are a spirit that is passing through, that’s trying to do the best towards every human that you can.” 

For the past 20 years, the host/artist/founder has been a social worker and entertainer. Through her company, Graceful Mindful Wellness Institute, she teaches people how to blend mind, body, and spirit through laughter, breath, movement, and grace. Additionally, she is a certified herbalist, has her own production company, Kyndra Joi Entertainment, and has written a children’s book. With many things on her plate, Kyndra manages to still have a social life, spend time with family and loved ones, and nourish herself. 

For some insight into how she manages it all, she says, “Recognizing when you need a self-care day, right? And then just paying attention to your body, your head, that whole thing, your skin breaking out, all that stuff. And then actually utilizing your calendar. You got to use your calendar. You got to schedule it out.” And for those who have become disconnected from their body, she offers that breath will be important for getting re-connected. For a breathing technique that people can try, she says to start with your palms down, sit up, feet flat, set a timer for three minutes, and take deep breaths through your nose that causes your diaphragm to rise and not your chest.

Before we hopped off the Zoom meeting, Kyndra answered a few speed-round questions. 

What is one word that describes your life right now? 

“Growing… Every aspect of what I’m doing right now is in a period of growth, whether it’s being creative, whether it’s my office growing, whether it’s the curriculum that I’m writing that’s growing, whether the radio station that I’m with is growing. Everything is just like sprouting.” 

What is a physical thing you can’t live without? 

“God, love, and family. I don’t want to live without those. But ain’t nothing physical. All this could be replaced, baby.”

If you were stranded on a deserted island and you had an old-school iPod that only had three artists on there. Who would those artists be? 

“Ricky Dillard. That’s a gospel artist I love… Nina Simone and Michelle Farrell… Some Michelle Baria.” 

What is a quote or a song lyric you always keep with you? 

“My mind is linked to the mind of the divine by the virtue of my breath. That is Ayanla Vanzant. And then that word is a lamp into my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:5. And then the last quote. I always say that people know it is well, it is well, it is well. That’s an old hymn. If I’m really going through something, I have to say great is thy faithfulness.”

What’s next for your favorite Gullah girl?

Outside of singing and songwriting, she is producing a community event called “The Sanctuary” that will give everyone in attendance a free NFT and teach artists how to make money off their intellectual properties in the NFT world. Additionally, her radio show “On the Move with Power 504 Radio” is coming back for an in-person and virtual reality experience.