New Orleans native Kristina Morales is set to win over the world
Kristina Morales is a local jazz musician whose debut album Wonderful World was released last year. Morales is a New Orleans native who grew up in a restaurant owned by her parents in the French Quarter.
Being exposed to music at a young age, Kristina's passion for music flourished. Morales attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), which helped develop her many musical talents. After graduating NOCCA, she attended the Boston Conservatory and graduated with a degree in Musical Theater Shortly after graduation, Morales moved back to her hometown to pursue music and help with the rebirth of the city after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. You can catch Morales performing at local joints like The Spotted Cat Music Club at least once a week.
Wonderful World performed by Kristina Morales
Q: Kristina, at what age did you realize you wanted to be a jazz singer?
A: Growing up in the French Quarter I was surrounded by all types of music all the time. My family owned a restaurant off of Toulousse and Decatur and there was an Irish club across the street, O'Flaherty's; after we would close up we would go to shows there. I have always loved singing and music. As a kid, I would sing blues in the bathtub and my mom would say, "What does a five-year-old know about the blues?"
Q: Your band, The Bayou Shufflers, is a fairly well-known group that plays at The Spotted Cat a lot, what keeps you going back every week?
A: The Spotted Cat is a great environment, it really is. Some bands the music just matches the venue. Some people just want to go there and actually listen to the music. It is a magical thing that happens with the building and the music, every time I do a show there it's always a good time.
Q: With the release of your first album, what was it like putting that together?
A: It was an incredible experience. Recording an album is completely different from a live show. It is there forever so you really want it to be perfect. You also sound completely different in a studio than you would on stage. So it really helped develop me as a Jazz singer. It might sound great for a live show but, it doesn't always sound that great for a record. I feel every person should try to record themselves no matter what, even if it's just an at-home garage band.
Q: How did you choose the songs that you wanted to put on the album?
A: Well, since it was my first CD I wanted like 50 songs. I wanted to showcase my talents but, I also wanted to have a strong connection to the song. I chose a lot of music that my family and friends played for me as a child. "Quimbara" is one of the songs that I had a connection with. I have a Puerto Rican background, so it was really important for me to bring my heritage into Jazz. "Wonderful World," the title track, is my mom and aunt's favorite song, so it was important for me to incorporate the people that influenced me as well as the music.
Q: What song did you enjoy recording the most?
A: Wow, that is so hard. There were so many good moments. I think the biggest surprise was "Scarborough Fayre." Nathan, my bass player and also my fiance, wrote the arrangements and he had never really done it before. It came together; it is one of the songs that we never really play at gigs because it doesn't fit the atmosphere. Having that come together; it was just like whoa, and that was it, that was the take.
What did you think about Kristina Morales remake of Wonderful World
Q: With the record out now, now have you shopped around to any local radio stations or labels?
A: Actually, 90.7 (WWOZ) and 89.9 (WWNO) have played my songs on the radio. That was really exciting to hear myself on the radio and I was calling everyone I knew within minutes for them to turn on their radio. I have been branching out to local stations, but I really want to start branching out to Jazz stations all over the country. I plan on sending out a lot of CD's to people very soon.
Q: I know that you attended NOCCA- have you ever thought of returning to give other students inspiration?
A: Yeah, I have, it is something that is nerve-racking. I do eventually want to do it. It is scary because I want to have something to say that they can walk away with. I want to make sure I have enough experience. I have the whole college experience but, I want to have something to say about after college. NOCCA is like my home so if I do go back there, I have to really do great because it was such a milestone in my life.
Q: Who are your top three musical inspirations?
A: Wow, I guess I will choose one from every era- oh my goodness, Bobby McFerrin. When I was really young I saw his concert and I got his tape. It was my favorite tape for the longest time. When I was a teenager, Fionna Apple was my favorite. I knew every word, every breath, every rift. Now, Louis Armstrong. I love the way he plays and the way he sings. Going back to that decade, especially for New Orleans, he was such a big influence. Wonderful World, making it new, I wanted to channel him and how amazing he is for New Orleans and how he shared our music.
Q: Do you have any advice for other young musicians who are interested in being where you are now?
A: Yes, let it completely come from the heart. Don't let what is happening music wise, club owners, or other musicians tell you how or what you should play. Just do something completely you and enjoy it.