Nashville-based singer-songwriter Ana Cristina Cash has a theory. Creative people, she says, make what they need at any given time. This is why Cash, who began performing at six-years-old and writing songs not long after, recorded her own version of the classic Hawaiian holiday song “Mele Kalikimaka” during the constrictive quarantine. She wanted to transport her listeners and herself to a place of sunshine and joy during a cold, stuffy winter season. Cash, who also recorded the song to make her young child smile, recorded the track with her husband, John Carter Cash, in the historic Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee. And we’re happy to premiere the bright music video for the acoustic version of the track here today.
“Our daughter, who is three-years-old, loves Hawaii,” says Cash. “We had the opportunity to take her before COVID hit to go see a luau, and since then she has loved Hawaiian culture. So, I decided to record this song as a gift.”
For Cash, the new single isn’t her first foray into holiday music. In 2018, she released a wonderful 12-tack record My Christmas Collection, which features standards like “O Holy Night,” “Carol of the Bells” and “Santa Baby.” On that album, Cash showcases many sides. She’s powerful in her multi-layered harmonies. She’s flirty, too, giving Mariah Carey a run for her money. Cash, a Cuban-American who grew up in Miami and began performing on beloved Spanish-language television shows at six-years-old, sings lyrics in both of her native tongues.
“I love classic Christmas songs,” Cash says. “It’s hard to pin down my favorite. The flirty vibe, that’s my jazz influence. ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ which I sang with my husband, and ‘Santa Baby,’ those are fun, playful songs. But the record is also very ballad heavy and there are religious songs, too. ‘Carol of the Bells’ was the most challenging. There are over two hundred vocal layers of my voice on that song. It’s like a choir.”
Cash says she looks at life like an adventure. There is always more to learn, always more to invest in and explore. In fact, she loves music for this reason. It propels Cash, creatively, personally and professionally. Ever since she was a young person, music has taken her to new worlds and offered new opportunities. As a kid, she begged her mom and dad, who were not “stage parents” by any stretch, to let her tryout for the popular show, Sábado Gigante. Her mother acquiesced and thus began Cash’s career.
“I started to compete at an early age,” Cash says. “I would say it was tough, but at the same time, it shaped who I was. I formed my craft there on the spot.”
While Cash believes she would have found a path to music some way or another, landing a spot as a kid on Sábado Gigante was a major stepping stone. Later, at fifteen-years-old, Cash signed a deal with Sony. But when the label merged with another, she found herself without a label. She’d moved to Los Angeles and was living in Hollywood for a few years, acting, recording demos, playing high-profile gigs and working with producers when her future husband walked into one of her favorite watering holes one night. He sat down a few stools away from her. They got to talking and a burgeoning relationship blossomed. Now, the two are married and the bond has opened a whole new world of collaboration to Cash.
“Nashville is a very collaborative city,” Cash says. “Everyone is a co-writer. It’s a very friendly experience. That wasn’t as easy for me at the beginning. Now I welcome it. I still write songs by myself, but now I can walk into a session and feel at ease.”
Cash is used to traversing multiple worlds. She is a Cuban-American born in Miami who now lives in Nashville. She produced work as a solo artist who now works closely with the Cash family. She was a child star who is now a creative, married woman. She speaks multiple languages, having absorbed much from many cultures near and far. It’s all part of the adventure for her.
“I love to experience different cultures,” she says. “When I did get to travel as a musician for work, we’d perform in Australia, Scandinavia, which is a transition from being in Miami where there was a large Latin-American culture with Cubans, Peruvians, people from the Dominican Republic.”
As a middle school student, Cash’s voice was so good that she would be pulled from her Catholic school classes to sing for important events, like weddings and funerals. The experiences, she says, really pushed her to grow up. She saw some of the saddest and most joyful moments in people’s lives, and she palliated or accentuated their emotions with her gift of song. During these events, it became all the more clear that music is what she wanted to do for years to come.
“I love being transported to a different world,” Cash says. “I love the way music makes me feel. Music has always been escapism for me. To escape to a different world, to escape my troubles. To feel understood.”