An Interview with a multi-talented actress and singer Cherine AndersonPublished Mar 23, 2007
Cherine Anderson is an accomplished young lady despite her age. As an actress, Anderson starred in two feature films, Dance Hall Queen with Paul Campbell and Audrey Reid and the Rasta/Christian love story, One Love with Kymani Marley. A college graduate, Cherine speaks Japanese. We can now add singer to her resume. .
Cherine, the sexy siren, is intelligent, ambitious and driven. She is part of a new crop of Jamaican female performers like Tammi Chyn, her sister Tessann Chin, Kris Kelli, Brick and Lace, Calibe, Alaine, Etana, Devine Brown and Jovi Rockwell, to name a few who are expanding the frontiers for female entertainers in Jamaican music, where females are sorely underrepresented, by carrying the baton with veterans like Tanya Stephens, Lady Saw, Marcia Griffith, Diana King, Patra, Grace Jones, JC Lodge and Nadine Sutherland.
With several singles currently riding the international airwaves including “Come Over Tonight” with DJ Chuck Fenda and “Good Love”, (Jimmy Riley’s Love and Devotion rhythm) on VP Records 2007, Strictly the Best Singers, Vol. 36 and under the musical guidance of Sly Dunbar and Robbie and astute management this mocha chocolate beauty is set to take the world by storm as one of Jamaica’s great export to the world in the entertainment as a singer and actress.
I talked with Cherine about balancing her twin careers, singing and acting, and her impression of the music business.
SS.How long have you been singing professionally?
CA: I have been singing professionally for about 10 yrs. I started early with the Ashe performing group.
SS: Who were your major influences, internationally and locally?
CA:I am inspired by many artists such as Chevelle Franklyn and Lauryn Hill, Marcia Griffiths, Whitney Houston, Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, Prince, …too many to mention. I do also listen to a lot of female dj’s like Lady Saw and Tanya Stephens.
SS: How would you describe your music, which genre best describes your sound?
CA: I call my music “Dancehall Soul”. My sound is a hybrid of all the things that have inspired me. I have influences from roots reggae, dancehall, R&B, soul to gospel. So it’s an eclectic soulful sound that is more anchored in my Caribbean dancehall culture. Behind the beat is a message which incorporates the grittiness of my past with the sweetness of things that I have been exposed to.
SS: What are some of the obstacles you as a female artist have encountered in your career?
CA: I find that I have a very strong personality so I see obstacles as opportunities. While others have complained about shifty producers who have ulterior motives. I generally state from the door what I am about, I am here to work. Additionally I think I’ve been protected to a certain extent by having a no–nonsense manager as well as Sly Dunbar as a mentor, people are generally introduced to my talent before they even see my face…so it makes for better work and business relations. I have to say, I would have it no other way.
SS: Did you think your gender plays a part in helping or advancing your career?
CA: Historically, females have not had the level of success that males have had in the business so I do not think being female advances one career, especially in reggae. However, I think times are changing and with the commercial success of Sean (Paul) and Shaggy added to the collaborations between reggae/dancehall artist with R&B and Hip Hop artist, the international market seems a little more open to an evolving sound of reggae/dancehall that they can understand. Additionally, we have seen the emergence of many young female artists in the reggae/dancehall world in the last three years, most of who make music with R&B flair. Some artists have even been signed and plans are in place to market them in more than just reggae markets in Europe and Asia…but I think being female in reggae if anything at this point is a handicap. We have a lot of ground to break. We have to stay focus on making great music, creating HITS period and not depending on good looks.
SS: Do you think that radio, TV and the concert stage offer the female artist the same opportunities to be seen and heard as your male peers in reggae?
CA: Well I can only speak for myself. I think if you truly have talent, good songs and a smart team behind you promoters will give you the opportunity. Most Jamaican promoters won’t refuse a woman a chance to showcase on local stage. I would go as far to say they will take the chance internationally too (In my case UCLA Jazz and Reggae Festival 2006). Also when you get the opportunity you simply must deliver. We can’t expect to be babied because entertainment is a business. So far I have been blessed to grace the stages of Reggae Sum fest 2006 (International Night), Reggae on the River (opening for Sly & Robbie), International Reggae Day and Sting Miami and I am still considered an emerging artist. I think the key is making sure you deliver and work on engaging your audience. Radio and TV are a whole other story. Cable TV has been very helpful for most of us young artist. Some radio DJs try to expose new talent but it’s a very, very competitive industry. However, females are getting played more on radio especially in Jamaica. I think this is the same industry that helped to establish artist like Marcia Griffiths, Millie Small, Diana King, Chevelle Franklyn, Lady Saw and Tanya Stephens to name a few…so we really continuing a legacy….things are changing. It’s really about making great songs…they always find their place.
SS: What are some of the things you think the reggae industry could do to make it easier for female artist to break into the industry or succeed?
CA: Well it would help us to be more business minded and professional and realize that females have worked in other genres and are a viable commodity. I’d say to all females stay the course and keep focused and to all male producers and promoters keep it business and let’s make music that we can market globally. I would also encourage more females to get involved in other areas of the business, become managers, promoters, publicist and rally around real talent and help to push other sisters. As females we can’t go in with the attitude that it should be easier for us…we just have to deliver as artist.
SS: What can female singers/dj do to improve and increase their visibility on stage and on record?
CA: This is hard one because every one enters the business for a different reason. I have seen so many girls my age and even younger come into the studio and before they even sing a note “on key” they are talking about being “sexy”. Image is very important but we should adopt an attitude where by we focus and commit to making “GREAT” music. Music that will affect people not only in Jamaica but internationally. With reality TV shows and talent competitions both here and abroad, I think we have more opportunities to perform live. We also have to invest in our talent, training is necessary if we intend to have consistency and compete internationally. I would encourage many established artist to start thinking about breaking new artist to carry on the legacy. Because every time a reggae artist crosses over and takes a break between albums there is nothing on the market internationally. Females such as Patra and Diana King made their mark but then no one else picked up the ball. We must also think and act as entrepreneurs’ maybe we might have to look into promoting events to showcase our talent.
SS: What is, or has been the biggest obstacle you have faced as female artist?
CA: I think my biggest obstacle has been to break the mold of my on screen characters. Many people believe you are the characters you play in film. But I also have to say I have gotten a lot of love across the board from the reggae community.
SS: Why do you think that promoters shy away from booking female artists?
CA: I didn’t know this was the case, and I certainly do intend to be booked by promoters (smile).
SS: List your most successful singles or album?
CA: Well there is “Good Love” which was produced by Sly & Robbie. The video peaked at number 2 on the local video charts and has recently been added to BETJ as well as MTV Tempo’s video list. Additionally it’s heavily rotated in Jamaica. There is also my collaboration with Chuck Fender called “Coming over Tonight” which is produced by Christopher Birch that has been doing extremely well. The video has just been released and Chuck Fender and I are promoting the song. The feedback has been very positive in the dancehall, at radio and in general with the people.
We are in the process of recording what will be my debut album. This should be out in the first quarter of 2007. But for more info on singles feel free to visit my myspace page (www.myspace.com/cherineanderson )
SS: Does your acting help you as performer?
CA: Acting doesn’t help me on stage. I don’t act when I perform…I just simple BE! I am totally Cherine when I sing my songs…it’s more personal. I relate to my live audience not as a character but as a young woman who has layers and feelings, emotions and something to say. I enjoy expressing fun and love however it is also important to speak to reality through music such as my song “How Many More.” This song addresses the realities of the streets.
SS: Do you have difficulty getting air play for your music, if so, in what radio formats?
CA: Like anything else the door isn’t wide open when you are new and have not yet established a track record of hit songs. Patrick Lindsay, my manager constantly pushes me to write good songs as we believe that solid music and great songs will ultimately win the hearts of the people. I believe each song should have its own identity and at the same time allow of people to see themselves in the song. For example when “Good Love” was released it took a while before it was played on radio but with the support of a few DJs the response has been great. In addition, the video has also done well. Overall airplay increased the more people really listened to the lyrics and it did not hurt that it was recorded on the classic Love and Devotion riddim. I am very appreciative and feel blessed to even hear my songs on the radio, because there are many records released independently in Jamaica weekly. I also love the fact that my songs are played in the dancehall, and that means a whole lot to me as I create music for the people.
SS: You are know as an actress, has the transition to being a singer been difficult, if so, what has been your biggest challenge?
The transition has not been difficult because I was singing before I did movies. I’ve worked on project since high school, worked with everyone from Shaggy, Wyclef, Bootsy Collins, Fat Joe, Anthony B, Chuck Fender and more. I’ve done a lot of background vocals as well as writing. I think most people who know me from One Love are now confirming that I was actually singing in the film. I have gotten a lot of love because in some circles people are already familiar with my on screen work. Nonetheless, I still have to deliver. The stakes are actually higher because making a mess at this could impact negatively on future films ... but I’m committed to getting it right. Like everything else, this is a work in progress.
SS: Has the public been accepting of you as singer?
CA: The public has definitely been accepting me as a singer and I am very appreciative of this. The audience is wide too everything from kids to adults both men and women.
SS: What are your professional goals as singer?
CA: To be the best at what I do. I would like to tour and take my music to the people worldwide. I would like to collaborate with many amazing artist in their respective genres. Whatever the highest standards or the benchmarks are for music and vocal talent I want to be measured by that , not limited in anyway but able to reach masses.
SS: Thank you Cherine, much appreciated and much success.
Stan Evan Smith is music critic, media personality and writer.
He can be reached stansmith firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.myspace.com/stanwsmith