Cassandra Reed Interview
Contemporary Music’s Newest Voice
by Paula Edelstein
Cassandra Reed’s “Only Human” hit the top spot on MP3.com’s jazz vocals chart with over 10,000 total plays! When she recently appeared on the cover of Jazziz magazine in July 2003 as a featured artist in “Who’s Next? Jonesing for Norah” she lit a new fire among the American jazz press. Now her new self-titled debut from Peak/Concord Records has hit radio and Reed is rapidly gaining a new audience that had previously considered her a guest star on recordings made by Gato Barbieri, Freddy Cole and Romero Lubambo. CASSANDRA REED features the stunning vocalist collaborating with producer Jason Miles, Kathy Byalick, Wallace Rooney, Gene Lake, James Genus and several other great musicians. The result clearly shows they had a great time making wonderful music for the whole world to enjoy.
A native of Seville, Spain, Cassandra Reed came to America in 1999 after achieving stardom in Europe and Japan when her CD I BELIEVE hit Number 1 on the European and Japanese charts! Since signing with Peak/Concord, the stunning Ms. Reed has made personal appearances on both the East and West Coasts of America, and will make her first appearance with the Paul Taylor band at the Long Beach Jazz Festival this month. This is getting real good so we caught up with Cassandra and here’s what she has to say!
P.E.: Hi Cassandra, congratulations on your debut for Peak Records. The word from the jazz press is that you’re among the “jazz debutantes” that may have the ambition to replicate the success Norah Jones recently achieved with her debut recording. You’re on the cover of Jazziz and have received other great reviews around the globe acclaiming your talents, how are you handling all of this newfound stardom in America?
Cassandra: Well my focus is kind of more really appreciating that I could do the kind of music I want to and that I could work with great musicians. My focus is on what I can do and everything that comes towards me that is positive. It’s nothing that freaks me out…good or bad!
P.E.: I hear several influences in your voice such as Kelly Sae– the other half of Count Basic in your phrasings, some that sound like Canadian vocalist Remy Shand’s background act, a little Norah Jones rings through and also a little like Jenna Mammina. Are you familiar with them and are they among your vocal influences?
Cassandra: Actually not really like in a main way. I think that what happened is that I grew up in very different influences and although I come from a very emotional point of view first, I always have listened to a lot of jazz artists and always appreciated like really well done music. But it’s not the only style that has influenced me.
P.E.: I agree, there’s definitely a pop and soul edge to your style. Cassandra, as you know Jason Miles and Kathy Byalick have great reputations for making hit songs and CDs. He has produced several award winning recordings including Gato Barbieri’s latest called SHADOW OF THE CAT, Freddy Cole and Romero Lubambo…and Kathy has written several great songs over the years. How did you hook up with Kathy Byalick and producer Jason Miles?
Cassandra: When I came to America four years ago, I came because I had a deal on Warner Brothers. Before that happened, my manager knew of Jason and had given him a tape and Jason really loved it. But at the time I was already tied into a production team so we didn’t hook up then. I happened to not release the record on Warner because of internal changes. So I got out of that and Jason and I hooked up. When we met, we really, really connected because he’s such a great person.
P.E.: “I’m Still Here” features the great Romero Lubambo adding Latin feel to this highly listenable song. What was it like working with him?
Cassandra: Romero is a sweetheart. I don’t know how to say it…it’s just that he’s very positive and has a magical touch.
P.E.: Do you play other instruments and did you study music formally?
Cassandra: When it comes to instruments, I don’t think I can actually say that I play them!! I started out by playing saxophone because I was not aware of my singing all of the time and the saxophone is something that is very close to the voice. So when I was 13 or 14, I worked to buy a saxophone and I just played and played in school jazz bands and I guess I thought I was great. When you’re that young…people just say,”Oh, she’s so cute.” I studied piano for a little while and with the guitar, I would say that’s the instrument that I play the most because it’s the one I use to compose. On the vocal part, I have a great voice coach right now that’s really working miracles for me!
P.E.: What are some of your other interests outside of making music?
Cassandra: I’ve always been very athletic and always loved sports and being outdoors. I enjoy archeology… and am also interested in the study of natural medicines.
P.E.: Who are the members of your working group and how has that chemistry been working?
Cassandra: James Genus on acoustic bass, Gene Lake on drums…of course Jason Miles played and produced. But I will be appearing in Long Beach with Paul Taylor’s band.
P.E.: Those are some great musicians so here’s to a successful concert and once again, congratulations on your debut for Peak Records.