"As a child, I listened to my dad's collection of 45s by The Beatles, Linda Ronstadt and the Beach Boys," says Cristina. "I was enchanted from the get go." Cristina's dad Tom Williams, a local singer/songwriter-turned schoolteacher, also shared with his daughter his passion for guitars. He taught her to play when she was ten and schooled her in folk songs from the 60's and 70's as well as Buffalo Springfield, Bob Dylan and her favorite, Neil Young. "Neil Young, George Harrison, and Pete Townshend are big guitar heroes of mine," she says, "but my dad was my biggest influence." When she started writing original songs, folk artists like Eric Anderson and Judy Collins informed her storytelling, while Southern rock bands like Lynyrd Skynard, Allman Brothers, and Tom Petty inspired her classic rock sensibilities.
In the late summer of 1998, Cristina's desire to pursue an acting career took her from a laid back Florida lifestyle to the frenzy and hustle of New York City. Her path abruptly changed when she took part in a talent show sponsored by her day job. "I hadn't sung my songs in a while, but one of my coworkers was an amateur producer. He offered to produce a demo of my songs, and I started meeting some local rock musicians and falling in with that scene. I realized what I really wanted to do was rock."
After her debut, "What Did I Do?" (also on sale at CDBABY), Cristina took her live band in an organic, stripped down direction as she expanded her role as lead guitarist. Dan stayed on as bassist and Michael P. Nordberg joined on drums. "This rhythm section is kick ass," she says. "Dan and Michael are songwriters and producers and have a huge history in playing rock, blues, soul and funk. Like me, they're both heavily influenced by the past but innovating for the future. But what really separates them from the rest of the pack is their feel. These guys definitely helped shape our sound." The trio started playing NYC venues such as Arlene Grocery, Continental, CB's Gallery, C Note, Don Hill's and Galapagos in Brooklyn, while working on songs for the next record. In January 2003, cupid struck hard when Cristina met and fell in love with local rock musician Jamie Laboz. When the band was ready to record an EP's worth of new songs, Cristina realized that Jamie's musical vision made him the ideal producer. "He said yes and we got our friend Alan Camlet on board as engineer," she says. The result is Cowards in Love, recorded during the summer of 2003 at Alan's Sweatshop Studios in Jersey City. Cristina acknowledges "Jamie's vision brought everything into focus without changing the feel and Alan captured a warm, organic vibe that feels like an awesome seventies recording and also mixed things up so they're interesting."
On Cowards in Love, Cristina Williams definitely blazes a few musical trails not traveled on her previous album. The rousing title track finds Cristina and the band resurrecting the spirit of pop icons like Gary Glitter, The Bay City Rollers and the essence of early 80's "girl pop" artists such as Josie Cotton and Bonnie Hayes. "The Gary Glitter vibe is totally courtesy of Jamie," says Cristina. "He grew up on New York punk, influenced by The Ramones and Talking Heads. "Cowards in Love" was originally a much more acoustic, almost jazzy song, but Jamie adds that awesome attitude. He encouraged me to rock out even more and I love the way it turned out."
Appropriate to her Cuban roots, the EP features the Latin-influenced, "Spanish Song." "That's the first song where I'm the only guitar on there," Cristina offers. "There was an element of me in the story, but the song was written from a friend's perspective. She was going through a relationship where the guy was just not there, and she referred to him as a 'shadow.' The description totally captured how she felt about being in an 'alone together' situation." "War Games" one of Cristina's more topical songs, was inspired by current world events. "I wrote that song the day we started bombing Afghanistan," she says. "This song captured how scared, sad and lonely I was at the time. Cowards in Love really captures the warmth, energy and honesty of the songs," she continues. "This record reflects how far I've come as a guitarist, singer and songwriter." Songs from both What Did I Do? and Cowards in Love have been licensed for use in the third season of the WB series High School Reunion.
Cristina now resides in sunny Los Angeles. "Out here, I'm surrounded by the 'California Rock' sound I heard so much in the seventies," she says. "I'm having fun with the new songs I'm writing, but I think I'll also be writing more songs about New York." Cristina's future plans include turning Cowards in Love into a full-length album. "People want to be entertained by music that's fun and rocks," she says, "but they also want music they can connect with. I don't see much art to entertainment anymore. I think popular music needs people like me right now to remind everybody how it's done."
Check out the artist's website:
1. Cowards in Love
2. Waste of Time
3. No More Words
4. Spanish Song
5. War Games
6. No More Words (radio Mix)