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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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."
"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."
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."
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.
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."
2009 Kassie joined "The Divas", a trio with
fellow soap stars Bobbie Eakes(Krystal, AMC) and Kathy
Brier(ex-Marcie, OLTL). They tour around the country
and have been featured on Soap
Net's Raining Men Video.
For more on The Divas, visit Kassie's Divas
lives on the upper West side with her husband, James
DePaiva and their one young son, James Quentin. Kassie
hosted PBS Show 'Knit and Crochet Today', and has
co-hosted on ABC's "The View." As her son
was born deaf, DePaiva is particularly keen to work
at raising money and awareness for organizations such
as The Center for Hearing and Communication, the Deafness
Research Foundation; and the Clark School for the
Deaf. She leads a hectic, full life. But it is accompanied
at every busy turn by the soundtrack of country music
that plays constantly in her mind and her heart.
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."