This past Saturday Luis and I sat shoulder to shoulder in an intimate, packed house to see Kristina Train perform with the Savannah Music Festival. The set featured all new material from an album she is currently working on for Mercury Records while living in Nashville, her home since October.

I was looking forward to hearing it all, but especially a bilingual tune called “Haunts Me,” a song Kristina co-wrote and then asked if I would translate into Spanish when I bumped into her a few months ago at a mutual favorite local spot, Back in the Day Bakery.

Kristina with Cherly Day, co-owner of Back in the Day Bakery 
She was home visiting and I threw my arms around her neck when I saw her, congratulating her on all of her success.

I’ve always been happy to see Kristina since meeting her when she worked at a downtown retail shop I used to run into on my work breaks. She was probably 18 then, but she hasn’t changed. Now, just as then, she always has a smile for you and gives big, sincere hugs. She wants to know more about your life than share all that she’s done with hers.

Her talent is widely appreciated. There were a couple of soulful, jazz-pop albums already made: “Spilt Milk” with the iconic Blue Note Records and then “Dark Black” under Mercury’s label. I remember being thrilled to see the latter included in one of my weekly bites from Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP publication a couple of years back. By many accounts she’s been ‘one to watch’ for a while. The BBC touted “Dark Black” as ‘startling’ and ‘an extraordinary record’ while Huffington Post declared “if you aren’t in love with Train’s voice… there is something seriously wrong with your ears.”

But there is zero sense of ego with Kristina and she and her mom were sweet to invite me to sit as we then compressed the last few years into 30 minutes over cupcakes and cookies.

She had just moved to Nashville from London, her home base for 3 years, and was fresh off a tour with jazz legend, Herbie Hancock, as the lead vocalist and violinist for his Grammy-winning Album of the Year, ‘River: The Joni Letters,’ inspired by folk great, Joni Mitchell.

Having completed what she calls the “greatest musical education” of her life, Kristina was ready to roll up her sleeves and write a third album, this one drawing on the music inspired by her childhood.

When we sat down again, just days before her performance in Savannah, she elaborated:

I had gotten to a point in London I knew who I would make an album with and what to expect,” she said. “I was looking for a change….explore a different sound. I want to return to my roots.”

Also, after 10 years away, she longed for home.

The songs are pieces of things that I love about the South,” she said, which include ‘swampier’ sounds, including the sliding guitar and violin, in which she is classically trained, while tapping into gospel, blues and soul-based country.

So if this is an album about roots then why did she ask me to translate a song in Spanish?

There had to be a story.

When Kristina was a young girl, 4 or 5, she moved to Mexico with her mother and grandmother, who was diagnosed with cancer.

They had heard of a health facility close to Mexico’s Baja coast that offered alternative, natural healing, using methods not approved in the U.S. at the time.

“We were willing to do anything,” she told me and they spent 2 years living at the center with other patients and their families from all over the world.

Kristina attended a Spanish-speaking school and befriended her grandmother’s nurse, María, as well as her 5 children, with whom she eventually traveled all over Mexico.

“It was a very, very healing environment, despite intense treatments,” she said.  “It’s a memory of a wonderful language and culture that embraced us and took us in. I have a wonderful memory of a very tough time.”

It has long been a dream of hers to sing in Spanish, but not only because of experiences.  Its the language itself.  

“I find it sensual, robust,” she said.  “It’s fragrant.”

She claims to have lost fluency, but her rendition of “Haunts Me” on Saturday was eloquent, poised and powerful.  Within the song, “I set the story up in English, but then lose the words and convey just emotion,” she told me. “Having the second half in Spanish does that. It transcends. I’m communicating in a language everyone can understand.”

Agreed.  Language aside, goosebumps are goosebumps and the depth and richness of her voice sent chills straight up both of my arms.

I can’t wait to hear the completed album, which she calls ‘forward viewing…uniting love and happiness.”

A sentiment that can’t help but be catapulted by a double dose of praise from her hero and idol, Bruce Springsteen, who called her ‘fantastic’ in recent iHeartRadio and NPR interviews and compared to her legendary singer, Dusty Springfield, best known for her 1969 hit, “Son of a Preacher Man.”

Kristina flipped open her phone and mentioned casually, “We’ve been texting.”


He and wife, Patti, called to wish her a Happy Birthday in January and they’ve kept in touch.

I wasn’t going to ask, but she volunteered a screen shot of a conversation:

“I don’t listen to a lot of records repetitively anymore but yours had a permanent place with me since coming across it. Keep the faith…and keep singing. All our best. Bruce.”

Lyrics to “Haunts Me,” so beautifully co-written by Kristina.  
I whipped up a Spanish translation, which Luis then helped me clean up.

Let me fall out of this dream

Déjamesalir de este sueño

What is brought back by the wind
Lo que me regreso el viento

The sky here looks the same
El cielo aqui sigue igual

And all the stars remain
Y todas las estrellas continuan

But I can hear you say
Pero te puedo escuchar decir

No lamp burns into the morning
Ninguna lámpara sobrevira la luz del dia

No meeting was too good for us
Ningúnencuentro fue bueno para nosotros

Things ain’t always as they seem
Las cosas no siempre son lo que aparentan

Especially in a dream
Especialmente en un sueño

When time passes so quickly
Cuando el tiempo pasa tan rápido


Let me fall out of this dream
Déjamesalir de este sueño

What have I done to deserve this fate
Que hice para merecer este camino

Lovers we were once
Amantes fuimos una vez

I can’t remove the very thought of you
No te puedo quitar este pensamiento

That haunts me night and day

Me invade noche y día

VIDEO: Dark Black 


  1. I really look forwadr to hearing Kristina's new album. Saw her twice in London in last year and she blew my mind!Extraordinary talented lady.Love her.

  2. Indeed she is, Mel. Which is why, during 2013, Kristina and her songs from 'Dark Black' inspired the central character of Mary O'Driscoll in the novel and play ' Entanglement of Fate'.

    Can't wait for her new album!

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