New Music Discovery of the Week: Flora Cash "A Good Childhood"

This week's ALT 104.5 New Music Discovery of the Week is Flora Cash "A Good Childhood"!

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At this point the origin story for Flora Cash is well known but it bears repeating. The beginnings of what has been frequently called a “modern-day love story” are still there for anyone to see; back and forth comments exchanged on some tracks posted to SoundCloud.

“I love this.” “

“You sing this with so much feeling.”

“I can't stop listening to this song...”

These public comments of mutual admiration sparked private dialogues that led to nearly a half a year of video chats and falling deeper in love everyday. And it was that love that propelled Shpresa from Sweden to Cole in Minnesota where she spent an idyllic summer before the two departed together for Stockholm. That was 9 years ago. The pair hasn’t been apart since.

Neither Cole nor Shpresa come from a well-connected family; neither is heir to someone else’s fame or fortune or the latest in a long line of show business royalty. Individually and as a couple, they’ve known the struggle of starting at the bottom and the bittersweet taste of success gotten through passion and a stubborn dedication to a craft. The two vowed to each other to make a career out of their work even in the face of doors slammed shut or ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ They’ve often been quoted as, “deciding that we would either make music together and make money… or we would make music together and be poor. There was no plan B.” It’s likely that this calculation and willingness to suffer for a dream was rooted in their respective childhoods.

Shpresa was a small girl when her family escaped conflict in Kosovo. She and two other siblings, led by her mother and father, made their way north across the entirety of Europe; sometimes walking hours through endless fields in the pitch black of night before finally arriving and settling in, what was for them, a sort of Promised Land. Her parents fought to make sure she would not grow up to the sound of gunshots or the nearby threat of an unexploded land mine.

Sweden was the place where her parents could give Shpresa and her siblings the running start they themselves never had. Her mother was both her mentor and her muse, reminding her that she was meant for great things and that now that they were safe, nothing could stop her. It was against this backdrop that a young Shpresa wrote poems and stood on a table to recite them for her family. And it was in a small town in southern Sweden where she discovered her passion for singing and songwriting.

Cole’s parents were both kids themselves when he was born; just out of high school. He was just a little boy when his father was sent to prison for selling drugs. His dad was a “boy with good intentions but poor judgment.” He would remain incarcerated for the better part of Cole’s childhood.

Throughout his childhood, Cole’s mother, single, worked her way through college and eventually through grad school. His grandparents became like an extra set of folks and his grandpa became the closest thing he would ever have to a real father; the guiding voice that fueled both his conscience and his ambition; there to set him straight when he found himself off course and there too to remind him that his potential was limited by nothing but his own “limiting beliefs.” It was against this backdrop that a young Cole experimented with found sounds and crude multi-tracking. And it was in a small town in northern Minnesota where Cole discovered a passion for writing and recording songs.

The unlikely crossing of these two far flung paths has yielded an impressive resume that includes reaching #1 at Alternative Radio and RIAA Platinum Certification in the United States, several performances on American and Swedish television (including performances on The Late Late Show with James Corden and LIVE with Kelly and Ryan), several GAFFA nominations and a string of Gold and Platinum records across Australia, Sweden, Germany, Norway and the UK. And while all of this is impressive - at the most fundamental level, the story of Flora Cash is not about accolades or the material evidence of Shpresa and Cole’s accomplishments. Flora Cash is, at its core, a love story, an adventure and a reminder to those who weren’t born wealthy or whose childhood was fraught with disadvantages that cynicism doesn’t have the final word and that our most damning limitations are the ones we impose on ourselves.

The forthcoming third album from Flora Cash is rooted in the promise each generation makes to the next that greater things are possible and a message by and for a generation of kids who know what it means to be a refugee, grow up with a dad in prison, struggle with mental health, experience heartbreak, hide their true identity from the world, seek adventure and self-realization, meet their soul mate, believe in a potential few yet see and in the final analysis, our generation is a record for all those who know what it means to pursue a dream even when the world tells them no.

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