English | Dansk
My name is Christina Friis. Or actually Christina Friis-Nielsen, Friis after my dad and Nielsen after my mom. I was born in the town of Tønder, Denmark, which borders Germany to the South. My parents both studied to become teachers, when they had me. Next to their studies, they performed in a band together with my Dad playing guitar, violin, mandolin, banjo, flute, and harmonica – and now he also plays bagpipe! All the music in my childhood home was probably the reason that I started singing before I could speak…
Speaking, on the other hand, wasn’t easy for me. I was very shy, especially at my primary school in the town of Gadstrup, to which we moved when my parents got their first teaching job. I oftentimes drifted into a fantasy world building kites and bows and arrows with my dad and three-year younger brother, Jacob. One time, I built a raft, collecting empty containers to hold it up from all the residents in town. This while my dad dug out for a swimming pool for us with his bare hands and a shovel! He’s own dad made horseshoes for a living and later in his life taught himself carpentry. These two men have truly taught me the value of a solid handicraft, something, which I apply in both music making and life.
Many musicians passed through our home and at the age of eight, I started taking piano lessons myself, which I never enjoyed as much as I loved singing. I remember singing the winning song, “J’aime la Vie”, from the Eurovision Song Contest, to my parents and their friends, while they were sunbathing by the pool. Guess who turned completely red at their applause?
My one-year stay as a senior in Big Horn High School in Wyoming changed my life. It dramatically increased the amount of music in my life, as I joined the college show choir touring all of Wyoming as well as began taking piano lessons with David. He taught me to accompany myself on “All My Trials” and shortly thereafter, I debuted at the Historic Inn Sheridan. I remember some young girls coming up to me afterwards asking for my autograph. What a boost to my teenager confidence – I have loved the U.S. ever since HA! I do love how Americans are not afraid to show their enthusiasm and completely support each other in their endeavors!!
Exactly ten years later, I returned to the U.S., this time to New Orleans with a bag full of dreams and ready for new adventures. A few months before that, I had become acquainted with Joni Mitchell’s music via a guitarist in Denmark, whom I’d met through a newspaper ad, in which he was looking for a singer for his Joni Mitchell duo project. I quickly found myself blissfully enveloped in Joni Mitchell’s lyrical universe and challenging singing style, and we went on a tour to Woodstock for a Joni Mitchell fan gathering/music festival. There, I met a songwriter/limo driver as well as a producer, who convinced me that New Orleans was simply the place to be.
Not thinking twice, I took off on a crazy limo and music adventure, a planned two-week trip, which ended up lasting three years!
This trip ended dramatically when I came down with thyroid cancer, an illness, which drastically changed my life as well as priorities. I thus chose family, Denmark and safety above else, and I decided to take a degree in Spanish and American studies. Seven years (my lucky number) later, I returned to sweet New Orleans for another three-year adventure, drawn to the city’s mystique and creative atmosphere more than ever.
In the U.S., I have written almost all of my songs with the inspiration coming the people, whom I’ve been blessed to meet, and their unique stories. My love of the city grows for every visit and I love to think about going back there this spring to record my debut-EP! The song, “Have a Little Faith” was written for a girlfriend about trusting life, a lesson I myself had to learn after battling cancer. “I Miss Your Kiss” is about longing for intimacy in a relationship, which was falling apart. “Jacob” tells the story of the homeless man I met, who called me by the name of the wife of a Danish sailor. I got to know several of the city’s homeless people, both through street performing and volunteering in a homeless shelter. I especially grew close to Cowboy, who would sit on the same stoop every morning waiting for me to bring him oatmeal and the next-door restaurant his morning coffee! New Orleans has a big heart like that.
Whether performing at the biggest festivals and famous restaurants in New Orleans or busking, it’s always been important for me to feel connected to the people around me, something I cannot think of a better way to do than through music!