KristinaMarie Cascone
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KristinaMarie Cascone

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1990 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1990
Solo Rock Disco

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Press


"A Song of Herself, by Eugene Melino"

The New Sun Newspaper

Song of Herself
"When I was twelve," remembers Kristina Marie, "My mom took me and my sister, Elena, to audition for our first community theater show. Elena and I didn't make it, but my mom did."

Kristina describes her mom as "a bit of a 'kumbaya' hippie" who made her living as a registered nurse and sang folk music and played guitar. A month before Kristina turned eighteen, her mother died of cancer. "She was only forty-one," Kristina recalls. "I had already been living on my own for almost a year, because she got sick and had to move away."

Truly her mother's daughter, Kristina naturally found a home away from home in theatre. "For some odd reason, I was never nervous until the curtain call came. No butterflies in the stomach before performances. None. It was nothing but fun. Then, at curtain call, as we were taking our bows, it would hit me. I would routinely shake right out of my shoes. It was a crazy thing."

Fame!
Just before Kristina entered her teens, the movie "Fame" had popularized the students of New York City's performing arts high schools. For a city kid who grew up singing and playing piano (since she was four), joining their ranks seemed a natural choice. With her mom in her corner, she prepared to audition for The LaGuardia High School of Music and Art (in Harlem).

"I worked on my piano piece for months," Kristina says. She would be competing against some of the most talented kids in a city of thousands of talented kids. "The day that I got there, the weather was horrible. My sheet music got wet, as did my pants from the street slush. I looked like a 'rag-a-muffin,' as my mom called me. How could the panel take me even remotely seriously?"

She got through the audition, soggy sheet music and all. Now, all she wanted to do was go home and get dry. She hurried to rejoin her mother waiting in the auditorium with other the parents, only to find out that good ol' mom had managed to bend the rules and wrangle a last-minute voice audition "just in case." Says Kristina, "I still don't know how she did that."

Soon she found herself facing another panel of strangers. "What have you prepared to sing for us today?" a stern looking woman asked. While she had spent nearly ten months on her piano piece, she hadn't spent even ten minutes preparing a song to sing. "I became uncomfortable in my own skin, loathing my mother for putting me in this position. I told the panel my situation. They said, 'Just sing anything you know.' But nothing came. It was as if I had never learned a single song in my entire life. Finally, one woman on the panel took pity and asked me if I knew any Christmas carols. No joke. So, that's what I sang. I was sure I blew it, but at least I hadn't run out in terror."

Several weeks later, a postcard arrived in the mail. "It said I was accepted - and that I could choose between an instrumental program and a voice program." As fate would have it, the school didn't allow freshman to take piano, and Kristina's second choice, the drums, didn't qualify as orchestral instrument. So thanks to a quirk of fate (and her mom's initiative), "voice it was."

While it started out much like "Fame!", "where all kinds of kids from all over the city were practicing and performing everywhere," her new school left her cold academically. (Even more than music, education counted a lot in Kristina's family. She has since graduated college Summa Cum Laude with a major in psychology and minors in music and education and today holds a Master's in education.) "I cut school for the first time in my life," she says. "The truants seemed to have much more to offer this goody-two-shoes, show-tune-singing, classical-piano-playing nerd than what was happening in the classroom." But traipsing around the Big Apple during the school day soon grew tiresome. After a year, she transferred to a Catholic high school where she quickly made the honors program. "And I never took a music class there," she recalls. "I'm not even sure they had music classes."

Lady Sings the Blues
Left on her own after her mother's death, Kristina worked all sorts of jobs, from Off Track Betting clerk to pizza delivery girl. But no matter how tight the budget got, she continued to pursue her musical theatre ambitions.

It was moonlighting as a DJ that opened the next door in her performing career. "My DJ boss knew that I was in a performance of Chicago. One night, he asked me to sing with his band, just for fun. I did, and what a blast!" Singing lead for a band differed dramatically from her experience performing in musicals, where audiences stayed seated and Kristina could blend into a large cast. In the pubs where bands played, the line separating audience and performer became blurred, and people felt no qualms about dancing and singing right along with Kristina.

"And the harder and louder I sang, the more the audience got into the music. So much for matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match..."

With plenty of local bands asking her to sing with them, Kristina never lacked for gigs. Within a few years, several older, experienced musicians asked her to join a blues band they were forming. "They thought my voice would fit the type of music they wanted to perform." Thus, Kristina began her advanced "degree" in music.

From Aretha to Zydeco
Over the next few years, she played with many accomplished musicians, including Grammy-award winner Andy Bassford (who often sits in with Kristina Con Vita.) "They introduced me to some great music, like Ruth Brown, Koko Taylor, Aretha Franklyn and Etta James. I loved it! I loved what the blues and R&B did to my heart and to my body. I loved singing it and feeling the music play behind me."

Through an apprenticeship served on stage, her musical influences expanded, ranging from The Allman Brothers to Patsy Cline, from Jewel to Martin Sexton, from Bonnie Raitt to the New Wave/Ska band No Doubt. "A bunch of years ago, I was introduced to Zydeco," she says. "Now there's music with power. Not a lot of my friends like it, but I find it unbelievably infectious. I don't seek it out, but when it finds me...well, let's just say it ain't pretty. My enthusiasm is usually an embarrassment for me, as well as any friends in close proximity."

"Dear Lisette"
The little girl who lost the audition to her charismatic mom has grown up as a woman and singer-songwriter. Shortly after she turned thirty, Kristina composed "Dear Lisette" as a kind of love letter to a mother who will remain forever young. It has all the elements of a great love song: passion, longing, hope, loss and beauty. With a melody line too simple to be sentimental, it rings true in way that no romantic love song can ever hope to.

"By that time I wrote it, I had earned an education, a good job, a car, and a nice place to live," says Kristina. "While my mom was sick, I never believed for a moment that she might die. It was very importan t to her that I felt that way. That belief gave me, and her, strength during her fight. Sometimes, though, I don't feel strong. And sometimes, no matter how old I am, I still want her to know how much I still need her."


* * *

by Eugene Melino - The New Sun


"Going It Alone Together"

Please check out the link at: http://www.newsun.com/kristinaconvita.html - New Sun Newspaper


Discography

Singles from the new EP "Ghosts & Obsessions":
"In Between"
"Everything About You"
"Obsidian"
"Waking In A Mess"
"Satisfaction"
"Ghost of Mary"

Photos

Bio

KristinaMarie is a rocker by nature, having been influenced by artists such as Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, and Pat Benetar.  Over more than 20 years, she has performed with many rock bands and acoustic duos.  She has also performed with blues bands and as a solo artist, and she currently spends lots of time singing, playing percussion, and dancing with Dancin' Machine, a 70s disco tribute band.

KristinaMarie has performed at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center in a production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”  She often shares the stage with her good friend, phenomenal guitarist, and two-time Grammy award-winner, Andy Bassford.  She has had the thrill of singing with the folk icon, Richie Havens.  During recent performances with Dancin' Machine, she has had the privilege of sharing the stage with such disco icons as Peaches & Herb, the Sugar Hill Gang, France Joli, Bonnie Pointer, the Trammps, and Harold Melvin's Blue Notes.

While performing and creating as part of a dual female-fronted band, KristinaMarie has showcased original music at NYC venues such as The Knitting Factory, The Bitter End, The Lion’s Den, Kenny’s Castaways, and CBGB’s Gallery.  She has also performed at the nationally recognized Chick Singer Night at The Bitter End, hosted by Deena Miller. (EP, Ghosts & Obsessions can be purchased through iTunes.)  As part of this group, she received:
First Place Winners - Music Aid International, Best Band, 2007 - K.R.A.V.E. for their original song, "In Between"
First Place Winners - GoGirls Songwriting Competition, 2007 - with their original song, "In Between"
First Place Winners - Amateur Night at the Apollo, Harlem, NY (Nov., 2006) with their original song, "Everything About You"