Music is her world

Original Content from “Freiburger Nachrichten”

Kristin Ash lost her heart to music in a record store in Freiburg’s Perolles district: now 46, she grew up just a few blocks from the store, and regularly her mother asked the record dealer if she could leave Kristin with him while she did her shopping. “From the age of five or six, I loved listening to music,” Ash says. She was first taken with French chansons, and a few years later discovered black music: Negro spirituals, gospel, soul. “I felt that these singers had music in their blood. That’s how I wanted to sing, too, and convey that feeling.”

She was to succeed in this again and again in the following years – as a singer on stage and in the studio or as a teacher in the music room of the OS Düdingen.

On stage

Kristin Ash not only listened to music at an early age, she also began singing and playing the recorder as a child, later adding piano and guitar. “During puberty I realized that I wanted to become a singer. I felt: in this, I am happy.” So she had her first gigs at the age of 16, subsequently worked with various bands, including the Sensel group Rään, was one of the founders of Party Project and had other numerous projects. Soon, record labels began to take notice of her: in the late 1990s, she received her first exclusive contract with Sony Music. “This is what every musician dreams of,” says Kristin Ash. She wanted to grab the chance, invested a lot and also made compromises for it. “I sang Senslerdeutsch, although I had never written dialect songs before. And actually, that didn’t suit me.” The big success failed to materialize, and after a small tour the collaboration ended. “I really wanted to sing, but I didn’t know the business,” she looks back today. But even though she was disappointed at the time, she says she learned a lot and got to know a lot of people through that first contract.

And it continued: In 2003, her second solo album came out, on the Universal Music label, with English songs in her style – a mixture of pop and rock, folk and country. Kristin Ash performed with it at big open airs: in Gampel, Zofingen, Estavayer-le-Lac, at the Jazz Parade in Fribourg. One music journalist even called her the Shania Twain of Switzerland. “It was a great time,” Ash says. “The album was quite successful and the song ‘Sometimes’ was just about a hit. It really almost did commercially.” But like many musicians in Switzerland, she didn’t manage to make a living off the stage alone.

In the classroom

From the music, however, Kristin Ash lives, because she had never put only on the map solo career. Parallel to her first stage performances after compulsory schooling, she graduated from a teacher training college and worked as a primary school teacher for several years. She underwent vocal training at what was then the Jazz School in Bern and later earned a Master of Pop Music. She has been a music teacher at OS Düdingen for 17 years, letting her students discover a wide variety of styles and instruments, leading projects and the school band. “I really enjoy being a music teacher,” she replies to the statement that, after all, teaching is second choice for many musicians. “I want my students to enjoy music, not be afraid of it.” And she says, “Recently, I played ‘Jump’ by Van Halen with the student band. I wish I had recorded it right away – everyone was grooving. Moments like that are the greatest, and I’ve come to cherish them.” She feels no bitterness that the solo career didn’t work out: “I’m much calmer today than I used to be. I’m happy and grateful for everything I’ve been able to experience and will still experience.” So she is already planning various music projects for 2019.

Diving is like music

Kristin Ash is also known as the organizer of the Rocking Christmas festival. She has also produced the legends and fairy tales from Senseland as an audio book and recorded a Christmas CD with children. Is there ever room for other passions besides working with music? “Yes,” Kristin Ash answers. She likes to travel; she is particularly fond of Spain, so she has learned Spanish and also sings Spanish songs. A few years ago, she also discovered scuba diving. “That peace, that stillness. That’s where I find inspiration again,” she says. “Recently I was in Egypt, and on a dive a turtle surfaced next to me, which was incredibly beautiful. Moments like that are like music.”

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© 2022 by Kristin Ash