Ana Cristina Cash Celebrates Her Daughter’s Love of Hawaiian Culture With the Release of “Mele Kalikimaka”
Ana Cristina Cash is an American singer-songwriter, raised in Miami, Florida by her Cuban parents who moved to the United States in the early 1960s during the onset of the revolution. Growing up listening to a multitude of genres, Cash’s sound was influenced by an eclectic array of inspiration from gritty Blues and Jazz to Pop-Country. Writing directly from the heart, the singer-songwriter’s recordings exhibit a broad vocal range, spanning from an expressive and resonating contralto to a soaring coloratura soprano, otherwise known as the “whistle register.” Writing from her heart first, all of Cash’s projects reflect her connection to Rockabilly and gritty Blues, along with a flavor of Country and Soul.
You posted a photo of the Nashville “It’s gonna be o.k.” mural on Charlotte Avenue and commented, “Music has always been instrumental in helping me cope with the difficult times in my life and I am holding my loved ones close. We are in this together.” Which songs have you been listening to since that post at the beginning of the pandemic?
I have been listening to a lot of Christmas songs and upbeat things for some reason. I think that since the world has been so uncertain around me lately, that’s what I’ve needed and that’s what I’ve wanted to hear in order to keep my spirits up. I love fun pop music. I’ve been listening to some Sia and Grimes lately.
Taking nature walks with Grace June. In what other ways have you also been able to take care of yourself and family during the past few months?
I have made sure to exercise and I am expressing myself creatively by cooking several recipes that I have never tried before. I made Korean BBQ ribs for the first time recently! I can now also make a mean Tiramisu.
Singing your daughter to sleep every night with “You Are My Sunshine.” What other songs do you like to play for her?
My daughter, Grace June Cash, likes “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and a traditional Spanish lullaby that I sing called “A La Nanita Nana” that originated in Spain.
In The Kitchen With Ana, beginning with soy lime roasted tofu. What are some of your favorite recipes you’ve tried during the quaran-times?
I make a 10-hour chicken weekly. It’s incredibly easy. You season a whole chicken and you cover it in a pot breast down and in the oven at 200 degrees for nine and a half hours. Then you take the cover off and flip it on its breast and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes and turn the heat up. It cooks the whole day! I make Greek, Tuscan, and watermelon mint salads weekly, and a lot of Italian staples such as cacio e pepe, manicotti, and lasagna. My family is loving the Swedish meatballs that I make. They have nutmeg and allspice in them and onions among several of the ingredients. I top it with lingonberry sauce.
What role does music play in allowing you the freedom to explore different worlds and parts of your own life?
Music is basically like my therapy. If something is bothering me, I channel it in my music. If I feel happy, I write a song about it. Music is a universal language.
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” — Coco Chanel. How does this quote inspire your songwriting?
I don’t like to mince words in my personal life or in my songwriting. What you see is what you get, and sometimes the truth can rub people the wrong way. I have learned this the hard way, but I cannot stop being who I am. I grew up with a strong East Coast mentality and it’s a part of my identity to be transparent and communicate exactly what I feel and need. This is especially the case since I come from a boisterous Cuban-American family that is brutally honest with their opinions, yet incredibly kind. It’s an interesting combination.
Releasing your album Shine in April and now having it submitted in the first round of Grammy voting in the Americana and Country categories. Recording a live, stripped down performance video of “Broken Roses” as part of your Cash Cabin LIVE Sessions. The song, co-written with your husband John, Bill Miller, and Kevin Dunne, deals with the deterioration of a partner’s mental health in a relationship. Bringing awareness to mental health issues is always important, but especially at this time. What advice can you share for those looking for support during these uncertain times?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to trusted friends and family and verbalize your feelings out loud. Sometimes by either writing your troubles down in a journal or by communicating with others, it can release a lot of tension and just communicating what is wrong is half the battle. We are human. Do something special for yourself and prioritize self-care.
Being part of Johnny Cash’s ‘Forever Words’ Compilation Deluxe Edition. You co-wrote, using your late father-in-law Johnny’s satirical and playful lyrics, “Brand New Pair of Shoes.” The song is about how his partner’s closet is full of shoes, furs, mink, perfumes, while he is content with just a $10 pair of new shoes. As the lyrics had no musical accompaniment, how did you decide to pair them with a jazz melody?
I felt that his lyrical content was very flirty in this piece. I restructured his words to create the verses and choruses, and the jazz music I put to it was something that I felt was divinely inspired and it just came to me.
Coconuts, lava, pineapples and plumerias. The Hawaiian classic Christmas song “Mele Kalikimaka” written by R. Alex Anderson. Getting into the holiday spirit early seems like a most wonderful idea right now. The song was made famous by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in 1950. Why was recording this cover with your husband at the historic Cash Cabin Studio so special for you?
It was special for both my husband John Carter Cash and I because our toddler daughter, Grace June Cash, absolutely adores Hawaiian culture. We took her to a luau last year in Maui and she has been in love with it ever since. My version of “Mele Kalikimaka” was recorded especially for her.
The song’s title comes from the Hawaiian phrase that means “Merry Christmas.” How important is it for everyone to still celebrate the spirit of the holidays even as the pandemic and social distancing continues?
I think that people are decorating for Christmas a lot earlier this year because they want to fill their homes with holiday cheer. I feel the same way. Having the spirit of Christmas around is very heartwarming, especially during such a difficult time.