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The Pick: Cristina Perez's favorite songs

Cristina Perez

You love an artist and you love their work -- whether that be a set of paintings, a record, or writings -- so naturally you want to know about the art, the music, the plays and publications that have inspired their own work.  "The Pick" is NolaVie's reconceptualized take on a guest music mix tape, featuring artists and makers of all sorts and the creative products within their own field that have influenced their work. 

New Orleans native Cristina Perez is a woman of many talents.  Equally comfortable singing, dancing and acting, Perez thrives in taking the songs and styles of yesterday and infusing them with a decidedly modern feel.  Her sultry voice is perfectly suited for interpreting classic jazz standards in a modern style, echoing Norah Jones with a New Orleans twist.  Perez utilizes her impressive vocal range on stage as well, where she is known as a knockout leading lady and can often be found on stages big and small around town.

Her love of traditional jazz has been shaped by many different influences. Perez recently sat down with NolaVie and identified six songs that have defined her as a singer and entertainer.

1. "Murmullo" by Buena Vista Social Club

"This is such a beautiful song with really poetic lyrics (they don't translate as poetically in English, unfortunately).  I love it so much that I chose it as my first dance with my husband at my wedding."

2. "That Old Black Magic” by Louis Prima and Keely Smith

"This was my audition song for the show, 'Jump, Jive, and Wail! The Music of Louis Prima'. This show was my first experience as a singer in a theatrical setting, and I was cast as the lead female vocalist in the show. It won a Big Easy Award for 'Best Original Work' and has been so successful that we continued to perform it three years later.  That cast jump started my career in theatre, and I feel very blessed to be a part of it!"

3. "Tears" by Django Reindhart

"I had never heard any Django Reindhart before my guitar teacher in college played this song for me.  I immediately fell in love with the song and the genre. After hearing this tune, I knew I had to learn guitar, and I've been playing ever since."

4. "Avalon"

"I met this guy named Chris at Mimi's in the Marigny in 2009. He was the banjo player and [was] band leader for the New Orleans Moonshiners. He let me sit in and sing with the band, and after the show offered to get together with me to learn some trad tunes. The first song he taught me was 'Avalon'. We've now been happily married for almost two years."

5. "Lovin' U" by Alicia Keys

"I played classical piano growing up, but I never thought be a performer because I was too shy. I used to wait 'til I was home alone and then rock out playing and singing this song."

6. Ave Maria

"I studied classical voice and piano while I was in college and, of course, this was one of the songs I learned.  A couple of weeks ago I sang it at my grandfather's funeral. It was an emotional day, and I don't know how I got through it, but I did. I've been told singing is praying twice, so maybe that's how I did it. It's fascinating how certain songs gain different meanings to you throughout different stages of your life. A song I learned as an assignment in college has turned into a song I will remember forever as the last words I shared with my grandfather."

Shane Colman writes about music for NolaVie. Email him at [email protected] Follow him on [email protected] and on Instagram at shawncoolman.