“Ma Ma Cady called it her little heaven on earth,” says Kristen Cady of her birthplace in Lake Charles, Louisiana. “The major influences on my music are the moral compass with which I was raised and the sprawling, peaceful countryside where I grew up.” Kristen was influenced by the women in her life: her mother and in summers, holidays, and weekends, her grandmothers.
Kristen loved her grandmothers with a passion. She enjoyed spending time with them and learning the important things in life—working in the garden, gathering the eggs, cooking, and going to church. She wrote some of her first tunes while cutting three acres of grass on a riding lawnmower at her grandma’s house. She remembers, “The drone of the lawnmower tuned out the world, and the words and music flowed in.”
Kristen’s mother is a classical singer who has a Masters Degree in classical voice performance. Kristen says, “I don’t think a day went by without Mother singing and playing the piano from the time I was born until I started college. I can never remember a time when I didn’t have music in my life.” Her mother also took her and her brother to recitals, concerts, ballets, operas, and Broadway shows.
In kindergarten, Kristen had her first taste of the stage when she sang “Home on the Range” with her mother in tow playing the ukulele at a school talent show. At that time, neither she nor her mother had any idea that she would spend her life performing on stage.
Kristen began classical piano lessons at 11, but she was more interested in playing popular music. So, her mother showed her how to read the guitar symbols on tunes such as “Arthur’s Theme” and the “Muppet Show Theme Song.” She “glissando-ed” out of piano lessons and began playing and singing the music that moved her.
While attending an all-girl Catholic school, Kristen performed in the Christian band that played for morning mass. She played drums from 8th grade until her senior year in the school marching band. As a keyboard player and singer, Kristen became a member of Celebration!, a local spin-off of Up With People, where she learned the dynamics of performing on a stage, singing solo, and singing harmony with a large chorus.
After two years of college, Kristen got married, became a licensed cosmetologist, and floated through life with no real purpose. Then a life-changing event occurred: a divorce that prompted a move to Hawaii for a year. Although her primary purpose in being there was to be a hairdresser and masseuse, she discovered her music again in Hawaii. Every time she had the opportunity, she played the piano in the lounges on the cruise ships where she worked. When she returned from Hawaii, she auditioned for a job as a dueling piano player at Pat O’Brien’s—New Orleans’ most famous bar—where she has worked for 16 years, except for a brief hiatus after Hurricane Katrina.
After Katrina, she worked at Howl at the Moon, Rum Runners, Bama Keys, and other various bars and casinos. She even had a short stint working for FEMA in storm-ravaged Florida and Louisiana. She remembers, “I did the FEMA thing to help the storm victims, but I quickly realized it wasn’t for me. I was too emotional about the suffering these people had gone through. My house didn’t even get flooded, but in some cases, their houses had been totally swept away. I had trouble reconciling that I was spared, while my neighbors weren’t.”
Kristen now focuses on her musical career and family. She plays four, five or even six nights a week at Pat O’Brien’s, and spends family time with her husband, their four children, and their dog. She says, “My ultimate goal is to be important enough to influence the world view, and to use my position in life to help others by sharing my music, making an impact on the people I entertain, and enjoying random philanthropy!”
Kristen is well on her way to realizing her goal. As her children often tell people, “My mom is famous.” She has a local and world-wide following and is becoming a force to be reckoned with on the global country scene.