Cassandra Kubinski’s Special Quarantine Cover of Jason Mraz’s “Back To The Earth”
I write songs. I sing. I practice yoga (noticing, watching, observing…maybe the breath, maybe the way a melody wants to move…) I eat chocolate (dark and organic preferably. Jacques Torres, call me.) I go for long hikes and beach strolls and hear melodies in my head…or sometimes, I try to hear them and they’re not ready yet, but they show up unexpectedly on the subway, or plane, or hotel bed. I love sounding, especially in harmony with other humans, a piano, a drum, or the wind… Sometimes the sounds have words, which are often about the joyful challenge of being alive, or the wavy highs and lows of love, or the fact that we’re much bigger than we usually allow ourselves to be (note to self). I also like to create music that inspires people to make a difference for communities, and have used my songs to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the Autism community, Relay for Life, pet rescue, and more. But then again, sometimes the song is just for shaking a leg or nodding a head, cuz it’s fun. Both are good. -Cassandra Kubinski
Your bio states “Well, I’m Cassandra. My parents picked an epic Greek goddess name for their firstborn daughter while playing cards and drinking wine, likely explaining my enjoyment of a bold Barolo or svelte Sauvignon.” How has your parents’ love for 70s singer-songwriters songs like Billy Joel’s “That’s Not Her Style” and the theater inspired your music career?
I grew up listening to those singer/songwriters. Billy, Carole King, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell. So there is something about the magic and vulnerability of one voice/one instrument that gets me, and the power of great songwriting. Singer songwriters share their souls, and each one had such a different flair, sometimes comedic, sometimes flippant, sometimes wistful. I think my emotions and sense of lyric and melody were impacted by the music my parents listened to, as well as by theatre (they listened to artists like Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand even before I got into musical theatre around age 10). The theatre piece inspired me to be a storyteller, and to know that, as a writer, I could be a chameleon, and express different attitudes and emotions in song, just like characters in a musical.
What inspired you to release a cover of Jason Mraz’s release “Back to the Earth”?
It was Earth Day 2020, and I woke up and realized it was earth day, and just felt suddenly compelled to do something to honor it. Jason’s song popped into my head (I love his album Yes!, the song is from that album). I often hum it as a reminder to myself to let the grounding power of nature settle the frenetic, untethered energy of the digital space we live in. I was in quarantine, and I decided to make that day about recording a new version of the song. So I sat down at the piano and noodled on how I’d do it, and then got in the closet (my professional vocal booth these days!) and laid down a bunch of harmonies, and some lead vocals, and sent them off to my collaborator Tony Daniels in Toronto for additional production. It was a very quick, gut choice to cover the song. I love what it says and think the message is more relevant than ever for us as a society.
The first musical you performed in was “Annie”. Your favorite musical to watch and why?
I love, and loved, soooo many musicals! But my favorite to watch? Hmmm….I like the ones that take you to a different time and place, like Guys and Dolls and Pippin. When I was a pre-teen, I was obsessed with CATS. I wanted to be the white cat. I’d dance in my nightgown in my bedroom pretending to be her.
Native of Enfield, CT. Which artists from your home state have had the most influence on the songs you write?
John Mayer! CT homie. John’s music, melody, lyrics and willingness to share his insecurities and thoughts in such a poetic way had a huge impact on my desire to be a singer/songwriter. He’s still a big influence on me and I return to his music over and over when I need inspiration. He’s definitely on my “dream collab” list.
After graduating from Florida State University with a theater degree, you moved to New York City. Which venue has become your go-to in the city?
It’s varied over time…when I arrived in NYC, The Bitter End and Caffe Vivaldi (RIP) were my favorite spots. Now, I play most often at Rockwood Music Hall, and for different arts and travel brands, like Arthouse Hotel. Of course now, my go-to venue is my office in Saratoga Springs… as live performances are still mostly not advisable in larger venues L
You create music that inspires people to make a difference for communities including the Autism community, Relay for Life, pet rescue, and more. What role do you see music playing as the nation heals from the pandemic?
I think, and hope, music plays the same role it always has…first off, it stirs emotion, so it can galvanize us to feel hope, to feel vigor, to feel love, to feel like something must be done. Second, music brings us together, not just when we share it in the same space, but as we listen to it and are changed by the vibrations collectively. I see music playing a huge role in facilitating awareness and compassion, as well as serving as an outlet for the anger, sadness, and pain that has often been squelched and unexpressed by many people.
Your album, “Dreams”, features producer, writer, and voiceover giant Tony Daniels. What was the inspiration for the collection?
Our inspiration was family. Love. Creating something simple, feel-good, not overthought. The 8 songs on the collection, 5 originals and 3 covers, were recorded over a few years, and we didn’t even know we were making an EP…our intention was just to make one good song at a time, until we decided they all sounded good together. They all have an organic, whimsical, earthy feel to them musically and a lightheartedness in the lyrics.
“Welcome to the World”. Focusing on a simpler time, your song was written to welcome your niece into the world. Did you create the storyboard for the hand-drawn video?
I didn’t! All the credit goes to Julia Green, the illustrator. We reached out to her because her drawings all have a magical whimsicality that we thought would work for the song. She came up with the “storyline” of the baby girl encountering all the friendly, supportive animals and sailing away into her life with them.
Voice Acting - Cassandra Kubinski
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In addition to your albums, you’ve had songs on multiple television shows, done voice-overs, and acted on stage and screen. Can you share a favorite memory from these experiences?
You’re reminding me how blessed I am to have so many great memories over my career… one of my favorite memories was booking the Kohl’s radio commercial where I met Tony… I was a pretty green voiceover actress, and Tony pointed out that I had a “nice turnout” in the booth (I was standing in a sorta ballet type pose), and he asked if I taught yoga (which I actually do have a yoga certification!) We hit it off, and have made music together since then. It reminds me to always be open to meeting the next right person to work with, wherever you go… you never know where they’ll show up if you’re paying attention!
With live shows canceled for the foreseeable future, how have you connected with fans online in addition to redesigning your website?
I play shows live on Facebook (people can join us or watch past shows at facebook.com/cassandrakubinski ), and I’ve gotten more into interacting with fans and asking a lot of questions. Moving live performance online is not an easy thing to do because the magic of a true in person live show cannot be beat. But we’ve had a lot of fun interacting in the comments on Facebook and Instagram live performances, and I’ve invited fellow artists like Bianca Sings, Julia Green, Avanti Negral and others to join me and go back and forth singing our songs, which has been fun. I’ve also focused on creating new songs and videos that we hope inspire and elevate people during these times.
Besides dancing, how have you been finding creative outlets during the quarantine?
I do love a good dance party. I’ll throw on a playlist and just shake it for 10 minutes. Helps break up the day, transition from one task to the next, or signal that the workday is done! Other than that, I’ve been cooking and baking more than ever…chili, grilling, banana breads, cookies, flourless chocolate cake (the sweets are kinda my only vice). And, nothing beats picking up the phone and having a good convo with a fellow artist. A few conversations that inspired me and got me back into a creative headspace in quarantine were with NLX, Deni Bonet, Tami Mulcahy and Matt Cusson, all great artists. Connecting with fellow creatives makes me feel more creative.