Covering Louisiana

Jul 1, 2014 8:40 PM by associated press

Lake Charles-born sisters successful Latina duo

Lake Charles natives Hanna and Ashley Perez have graduated from singing for fun at Contraband Days and the DeQuincy Railroad Festival to touring the world as international stars.

They signed with Sony Music Latin America as teens. Now in their 20s, they're still with the company as Ha(asterisk)Ash. They sing in Spanish, their style mixing pop and rock.

"We were both born in Lake Charles, both of our parents are from Louisiana, we spent half our time here, half in Mexico City as kids," said Hanna. "We have a 12-year career with Sony Music in Latin America. We have recorded four albums and have been blessed to have a successful career."

The sisters spent a recent weekend tracing their Southwest Louisiana roots in Lake Charles, Westlake and DeQuincy for a documentary being produced by Sony in conjunction with an upcoming live album.

"We are doing something similar to the 'MTV Unplugged' series, it is called 'Primera Fila (Front Row),'" Hanna Perez said. "For that live album we are filming a documentary where we come back to our hometown and basically sing at the places we grew up singing. We are coming back to sing old songs as well as new songs for the album. It has been a nice experience coming home."

The duo moved to Mexico City permanently after signing with Sony.

"The first time we went to Mexico I was 2 years old," Perez said. "I came back to go to Nelson Elementary for a year. We were going back and forth. We signed with Sony Music when we were 14, 15 and have had a career ever since."

The sisters have been able to handle success well despite the early start. Their first album, released in 2003, sold more than 140,000 copies, according to itunes.com.

"We have our parents to thank. We had to grow up and mature a lot faster after we chose to make music a career," Perez said.

"You have to learn responsibility, when you are sick you still have to do a show, you can't take a day off like you can with school," she said. "You can't go out too late, you are traveling a lot and have to save energy. In another way, you don't grow up as much because you don't have a lot of things other people do, like a social life and family vacations and things like that. Every dream has sacrifices and if that is what you really want, that is part of the package."

She said the positives make all the work and sacrifices worthwhile.

"We decided early what we wanted to do in life and have had more time to better ourselves," Perez said. "It is more work than I imagined. Before when we would sing at Contraband Days or the Railroad Festival, it was just fun times. Now it is a lot of travel, work and responsibility, but it is still great. We have an opportunity to travel the world and visit countries we never would have imagined. It is a true blessing."

The sisters spent most of last year on tour.

"Last year we gave 180 concerts in Mexico," Perez said. "We played at one of the most important arenas in Mexico with 40,000 people. We filled a stadium with 120,000 people (in Chihuahua). We have been to Central America, South America, done shows in Spain, in cities here in the States with large Latin populations. It has been a great adventure."

The sisters are enjoying the chance to make a stop in their hometown.

"It is great to be home," Perez said. "My sister, brother and mom all live here. It is great to be here with them, come home and be able to share our music and success with them."

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