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Kassie Wesley DePaiva
Katherine Virginia Wesley

Actress, Singer, Host, Advocate
Married: James DePaiva
Son: JQ DePaiva

Birhplace: Morganfield, KY
Birthday: March 21, 1961
Height: 5 ft 9.5 in
Eyes: Green

Kassie DePaiva grew up deep in Kentucky, one of four children in a Southern Baptist family, where she studied dance and sang at school and church and 4-H talent shows.

"Music has always been my strength," says the long-time New Yorker, who since 1993 has portrayed the character Blair Cramer on ABC's 'One Life to Live' and appeared previously on CBS's 'The Guiding Light' as Chelsea Reardon during the late-'80s. "If I hadn't become so busy with the field of acting, I would have put my nose to the grindstone and really, really, really pursued my music. It's always been a huge part of my life. When I was growing up, Linda Ronstadt and Olivia Newton-John were very important to me as people who made records. They were these mega-'70s recording artists who also happened to be very strong women. They were pop, yet their music engaged passionately with both folk and country styles. Later I became a big fan of Trisha Yearwood's. Right now, I'd say my favorite vocalists are Wynonna Judd and k.d. lang -- both so smooth, so powerful."

As demonstrated by the unfakeable grace and authority of 'I Want to Love You', her new 14-song collection, music has never ceased to be a central part of DePaiva's life. Recorded in New York City with producer David Nichtern, comprised of distinguished tunes written by top-flight Nashville songwriters as well as two songs composed by DePaiva herself, the album is no Manhattan critique of the often beautifully sung and played emotionalism of mainstream country music; instead, it is the strongest embrace and exquisitely recorded execution of what has, over the years, blossomed into a creatively vibrant and internationally recognized American pop style. It is the country collection, winsomely flavored by bluegrass, of a Kentucky girl who grew up to live and work furiously in New York while -- at all times, during everything -- country music continued to live in her heart.

In fact, 'I Want to Love You' is DePaiva's third album, the one wherein she and her collaborators strive to concentrate on, as she puts it, "the basics" of country. "It's not my first album," she says, "and I made it while in my forties. I think I now have the musical essence of a woman, and I am able to tell the story of a particular woman and her particular journey."

DePaiva's own journey has been rich with musical events. As a teenager, she worked as a back-up singer at Opryland in Nashville; at 18, she made her solo debut at the Grand Ole Opry. She studied theater at Indiana University and, later, the University of California at Los Angeles; while at UCLA, DePaiva joined the four-part harmony band Newport, performing throughout California and Nevada. Later she left college to travel and perform with the USO throughout Asia. After she returned to the U.S., she got a job singing back-up for the soul music titan Bobby Womack.

"I used to tell Bobby Womack all the time." DePaiva says, "that the way I feel about country and soul is that they're, well, heavily related. It's all derived from gospel music, and a lot of country comes from the old soul music. But touring with him, being on stage with so many legends -- Cecil and Linda Womack, Patti LaBelle, people like that. I mean, Sly Stone was out on the road with us for two months. Once we were at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, while doing a week in Great Britain. I sang there with the Rolling Stones, although Mick Jagger wasn't there. I had begged Bobby to let me sing on this date, because he only needed one background vocalist: I said, 'Please, please, please, please let me do this.'" DePaiva laughs. "I got to do it. It was extremely thrilling to be backstage and be able to sit and talk about music with Charlie Watts."

For "I Want to Love You', DePaiva wanted to go, as she says, "back to basics." She calls the making of the collection "just a joy. This kind of bluegrass-flecked country music is just that way. When I'm recording it, the smile on my face kind of hurts. It's so feel-good, even when the songs turn sad. In that way, it's a very mature approach. I think every song has meaning. Consider 'Since You Said You Loved Me', which has the ease of a ditty but is actually about finding someone else in your life who makes you go back to that first time that you fell in love -- when, in 1983, say, you did fall in love and you also listened to songs about falling in love. The piece takes you back in time to relive moments you associate with love. I think every song tells a specific story, from a mature woman's point of view."

A standout ballad of the collection is "Lonely and Bein' Alone," where DePaiva's lakewater-clear voice sensitively negotiates the emotional ins-and-outs of a woman trying to find some logic about her feelings. "I set up a whole scenario for doing that song," DePaiva says. "I placed myself in the seediest bar you could possibly imagine -- real smoky. The woman in the song has had a couple shots of tequila. I envisioned just being dumped after pouring my heart out in a relationship and somebody walking out on me. At the lowest point in my life, some pseudo-hamdsome man sits down and thinks he can hit on me. And I'm like, 'Yeah, I dare you.' But you know what? If you think you can do it, go right ahead. Because as long as I feel something, that keeps me alive."

Other songs on 'I Want to Love You', such as "I'm in a Hurry to Go Nowhere," explore swinging honky-tonk and, as on the incandescent "Sneakers in a Dryer," play around with humor and sexiness as authoritatively as the distinctive "I Hate that I Love You" exposes some inevitable domestic bitterness. Just as the gorgeously sung title song sustains a smoldering midnight sensuality not unconnected to classic soul music emotions, things on the lively "Get on Over Here" turn not a little funky and Womackesque. The flow of DePaiva's seamless soprano connects everything with Kentucky-Manhattan passion and skill, and absolutely no sweat.

Another song, "Sweet Southern Love," written by DePaiva, deals outright with the region in which she grew up. "I wrote that one for my sister's wedding," she says. "I was on the road with Womack at the time. We were traveling through Georgia, on a bus, doing the whole tour thing. I wanted to give my sister something for her wedding, and I said, 'Well, I'm going to write something.' I think the song puts you in the heat of a summer night, walking hand in hand with someone you love, just hearing the crickets, smelling pine needles and the sweet magnolia. The message of love takes you there. And it leaves you there."

In fact, 'I Want to Love You' is DePaiva's third album, the one wherein she and her collaborators strive to concentrate on, as she puts it, "the basics" of country. "It's not my first album," she says, "and I made it while in my forties. I think I now have the musical essence of a woman, and I am able to tell the story of a particular woman and her particular journey."

DePaiva's own journey has been rich with musical events. As a teenager, she worked as a back-up singer at Opryland in Nashville; at 18, she made her solo debut at the Grand Ole Opry. She studied theater at Indiana University and, later, the University of California at Los Angeles; while at UCLA, DePaiva joined the four-part harmony band Newport, performing throughout California and Nevada. Later she left college to travel and perform with the USO throughout Asia. After she returned to the U.S., she got a job singing back-up for the soul music titan Bobby Womack.

"It doesn't matter," she says, "what kind of camera you put in front of me, whether it's 35-millimeter or video or high-def: I'm going to try to present the most real and honest performance that I can. And wherever I record my music, I'm going to put forth the most honest, believable performance. I don't feel like apologizing about where I am, where I've been and what I've chosen. It doesn't matter where you are or where you put your roots down. Just grow."

Kassie started in the film 2013 Horror fiilm, "We Are What We Are".

In 2014 Kassie joins the cast of "Days of Our Lives" in the role of Eve Donovan.

 

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