11 Questions to a Nashville Musician: Anana Kaye and Irakli Gabriel

Anana Kaye and Irakli Gabriel

Go ahead and mark your calendar for the March 19 release of what looks to be one of the most exciting Americana releases of 2021, “Whispers and Sighs” from David Olney and Anana Kaye. This record marks the last studio recording from songwriter’s songwriter, the late Olney, and it’s one on which he shares lead vocals with the remarkable songstress Kaye. With advance praise from the likes of Mary Gauthier and The Waterboys’ Mike Scott, this record is one you won’t want to overlook.

Joining Kaye on this record and in life, is her husband, Irakli Gabriel, and it is a pleasure to feature them both in this latest edition of 11 Questions. Their journey from Georgia in Eastern Europe to Music City is a fascinating one, and its great to have them here as a part of the local music scene. Watch the couple perform “My Last Dream of You” from the forthcoming record.

While its sad to recall Olney’s untimely passing, it’s sure great to hear some new music from him. Watch this lovely video of “My Favorite Goodbye,” a song co-written by David, Anana and Irakli, on which all three play. Thanks to Anana and Irakli for spending time with us and sharing their story.


Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?

We’re both originally from Georgia, the country on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the birthplace of wine, to where Jason and the Argonauts sailed thousands of years ago. We lived many years in New York and moved to Nashville in the fall of 2017. It was a natural move. Nashville might be known as the “Country music center,” but at the heart of it is songwriting, in whatever genre it might be. A great song can be played in different styles. We love the collaborative spirit that we found here, along with a supportive music community. It feels like home.

What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?

Irakli: Back in the USSR, in the late 80” s when I was a teenager, they started slowly releasing selections of American and British music. There was a series called “The Archive of Popular Music”. Compilations of the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bowie and Stevie Wonder. It must have been one of those vinyls. I think the Stones it had their mid-60” s classics on it. I loved “Paint it Black” and “Lady Jane”. Another one was The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night”.

Here in Nashville, we love to go to The Great Escape and pick out some old records that sound just astonishing. The most recent buy was a Fats Waller anthology and we’ve been playing it non-stop.

First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?

Anana: The first live concert I ever saw must’ve been some local band in Tbilisi, but the first concert I saw after my move to the States was The Waterboys at Bowery Ballroom, where Irakli was playing in Freddie Stevenson’s band as an opening act. It was a magnificent show.

Irakli: I was 12, I think, there was a big Jazz Festival in Tbilisi, our hometown. My mom managed to score tickets and took me one night, and we saw Freddie Hubbard and Jimmy Smith. I’m not sure I was mature enough to fully appreciate it, but it was pretty mind blowing anyway. A few years later, I was living in Trondheim, Norway and saw The Blasters at a pub there, even though I was still underage. That was my first “proper” rock’n’roll show and I guess it sealed my fate and future direction in life, even though I probably did not realize that back then.

The last concert? I think it must’ve been R.B. Morris at The 5 Spot here in Nashville, in January 2020. RB is a magnificent songwriter, poet and singer. His last record is a thing of true beauty. Everyone should listen to it.

Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?

David Olney. No doubt about it.

Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?

Before the pandemic, for coffee we liked Sidekicks up here in Madison. They have great biscuits and sandwiches too. Pizza? Well, we lived in New York for a long time, so it’s kind of a tough one. Our friend and a great songwriter, Jason Erie, makes really good pizza and he shares it with us sometimes if we behave.

What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?

Irakli: Impossible to pick one, there are hundreds. If I absolutely had to pick one right this second, I’d say Blonde on Blonde.  But before I even heard that one, I was already hooked on Kristofferson and Patsy Cline. I saw the movie Sweet Dreams when I was a kid and loved it.

Anana: I’d have to say the very first, self-titled Kristofferson album.

Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?

Dino’s was a big favorite, especially on a warm evening. We’d sit in their backyard after a 5 Spot gig. We haven’t been there since 2020 happened.

The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.

That’s a trick question. How could we just pick only three? We’d have to leave out so many whom we love and respect! But Stuffy Shmitt is definitely on the list, he tends to respond to our texts the quickest and is great.

What are your favorite music venues to play in town?

The 5 Spot and The Bowery Vault. Great vibes, and most importantly, the sound.

Name a musician who you’d like to see move here.

Anana: Our friend and a talented country singer-songwriter Shota Adamashvili from our home country. He’s practically the only country singer in Georgia and has so much love for Nashville and its music. He’s made me fall in love with it, in many ways. I used to busk on the streets of Tbilisi when I was a teenager. I loved singing “Me and Bobby McGee” (Janis Joplin version). He came up to me once and told me that it was actually a Kristofferson song. I quickly wrote the name down in Georgian letters on some ripped piece of paper I found, put it in the inside pocket of my backpack so I wouldn’t lose it and did some intensive research as soon as I got home. I think that marked the beginning of my infatuation with songwriting, Country music and Nashville. He is quite brilliant, and I feel that if there’s one person that needs to be in Nashville, it’s him.

Irakli: Yes. And my friend, a brilliant songwriter Freddie Stevenson with whom I’ve done a lot of writing and playing in New York.  Look him up. He’s home in Scotland now, but I miss him and would love to have him here. Oh, and it would be fun to have Paul McCartney in town, at least for a bit.

Finally, what’s in your musical future?

Hoping to record the songs we’ve written over the last year or so that haven’t been recorded yet. There’s quite a few that we like. And hopefully the muse won’t abandon us, so we’ll write some more. The “business” is so uncertain, it’s almost not worth it to think about it. We just got to keep working and doing our best. And we do miss playing live very much.




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