New pop album could be the soundtrack to your holidays

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Singer/songwriter and former Sunnyside resident Cassandra Kubinski’s newly released EP "Holiday Magic" will bring cheer to all who hear it. Filled with new tunes and well known favorites.
A candid selfie taken at Citifield with billboard charting singer/songwriter Cassandra Kubinski (l.) and longtime friend and music collaborator Lori Martini, who is a die-hard Mets fan.
Singer/songwriter Cassandra Kubinski teamed up with and co-producer Tony Daniels (l.) and Grammy-nominated producer Chris Sclafani (c.) for the singer’s new EP “Holiday Magic.”
Billy Joel with Lori Martini (l.) and Kubinski.

“Cassandra Kubinski is a rarity… very similar to the legendary solo artists of the early to mid-1970s… she proves that the genre [singer/songwriter] is not only alive and well, but that it is still capable of being transcende­nt.” – Billy Joel

In recent years, the angelic-sounding, theatrically influenced pop performer who has been making a name for herself in a fiercely competitive industry, has caught the attention of many movers and shakers in the music world, including that legendary entertainer.

“I met Billy Joel in 2008, after he heard my song, ‘Cradle the Moon,’ online and reached out to meet me through a colleague,” says Kubinski, who noted that in 2010, she had finished a song called “No Hard Feelings,” for which Joel wrote a title and lyric concept. The lyrics are quoted in his biography by Fred Scruers.

Though she keeps a low profile and possesses a kind of low-key sophistication, when you see her perform, you can tell she has the makings of a star. And it may not take her too long to get there, for the cards seem to be stacked in her favor.

In a recent interview, the former Sunnyside resident — she got her first city apartment there — who now lives in Hoboken, N.J., seemed very excited about the release of her new EP “Holiday Magic.” The album is a mix of joyful and wistful songs “that bring a fresh perspective to familiar themes of giving, love, and letting go of the old year,” she says.

Chances are you’ve probably heard this prolific songsmith’s popular music (she has written a slew of catchy songs) on ABC, NBC, Bravo, and MTV programs, and on the Lifetime Series “Dance Moms.” She even starred in an Emmy-nominated Snickers commercial, and you may also recognize her voice on other commercials for HomeGoods, Kohls, and Maybelline.

Influenced by nature, her theatrical background, and her love of singers/songwriters like Billy Joel, Rob Thomas, Alicia Keys and Sara Bareilles, Kubinski describes her style as “often piano-driven pop, with the storytelling aspect prominent in theater.”

The rising star was thrilled to talk about her new EP and share her musical adventures with TimesLedger readers, between holiday season engagements.

The album’s three original songs are infused with her signature style, and blend beautifully with a trio of revamped holiday classics, including “Sleigh Ride” — sung as a duet with award-winning, world-touring R&B singer/songwriter Matt Cusson. Hidden in this joyful gift of music to escape is another surprise: a brand-new mashup of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” combined with the timeless and nostalgic “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” And, in a re-imagining of “Little Drummer Boy,” Kubinski is joined by her two sisters, Ali and Jackie.

Some listeners may feel like dancing when they discover an upbeat, head-bobbing tune called “Christmas is All About” (with shades of “All I Want for Christmas is You”). While “It Doesn’t Feel Like December,” has an almost 1920s vibe, features a kazoo, “and is about the joy and blush of finding love on the holidays,” the singer says her song “New Year Comin’,” has to do with “letting go of the old year, no matter what has or hasn’t happened in it, and looking forward to a new one with hope.”

Kubinski calls her original tunes, “new classics, destined to be played next to old favorites for years to come.”

‘Holiday Magic’ is bound to enhance all those good and heartwarming things that symbolize your holidays. As a sort of panacea to the angst that rears its ugly head this time of year, the album is also a reminder that magical moments can happen in everyday life. Each song has a flavor all its own that you can sample while enjoying some eggnog or a mug of hot cocoa… alone or with friends and family.

“For me, the holidays are about family, both present and past. They bring up memories. They always offer an opportunity to reflect on the year almost gone, on how abundant and lucky we are, on where we can do better, give more, or live more authentically next year,” says Kubinski.

The EP features some of the city’s best players, “all within our network of musicians,” according to the songstress, who notes that the lead single, “Christmas Is All About,” was co-written by her friend and fellow singer/songwriter Lori Martini.

“I think we get lost in what Christmas is actually about, that we felt we needed to put it in a song. We are always putting pressure on ourselves and others to please everyone with gifts and such that we miss the actual point... to just relax and enjoy the moments you have,” says the Martini, a Middle Village resident, whose inspiration was singer George Michael, who died last year on Christmas Day.

“I feel he wrote the greatest Christmas song ever [“Last Christmas,” a pop song of 1980s heartbreak], and I wanted to make something special. He’s the reason I was inspired to write to begin with, so it’s extremely personal,” Kubinski says. “Of course, I was devastated by his untimely death; I am still mourning. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.”

Kubinski says collaborating with her friend, Lori, was great “because she was so passionate about creating a Christmas classic. She had a lot of lyric ideas, and I composed the music.

“We wrote ‘Christmas Is All About’ in my sister’s old studio apartment, pretty quickly. We wanted to capture the true essence of the holiday spirit and give it that bouncy feel that just makes you want to nod your head and run out into the snow... like an old musical.”

When she met Grammy-nominated producer Chris Sclafani (Selena Gomez, Ed Sheeran, Gwen Stefani, Rixton) through her bass player Eamon Rayhn, Kubinski soon found out they were an awesome match. After teaming up with co-producer Tony Daniels (a well-known voiceover talent) to make all that holiday magic happen, the EP – released a few weeks ago – debuted at No. 46 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

During and after recording sessions for her new album at Sclafani’s Midtown Manhattan studio, the singer has been busy working on “Holiday Magic” performances and videos.

“Besides my music, I’m a voice over actress always working for brands like Midas, Hersheys, and Amex. I also serve as membership chair for Women in Music globally, and love speaking and representing WIM at music industry events,” she notes.

You can catch the classy songstress at The Triad (158 W. 72nd St. in Manhattan) Monday evening, Dec. 11. She’ll be singing with the Boardwalk Jazz Band — a 21-piece orchestra — for a special edition holiday concert for music lovers of all ages. Doors open 9 p.m..

“The show will be a fantastic, festive one… not to be missed,” says Kubinski. “We’ll both be doing songs from our holiday projects individually and together. The band has a Christmas special syndicated to CBS stations around the country, and ‘Holiday Magic’ just hit the Billboard charts, so we both have lots to celebrate. Patrons can expect a fun, upbeat mix of holiday classics and originals that will make you feel like you’re at a classic NYC jazz club.”

When she’s not singing, Kubinski says she likes to relax with Yoga, or hang out in cafes. But most of all, loves spending time with her family and friends, especially during the holidays when she’ll visit her parents in Connecticut.

“Holiday Magic” is available on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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