Tag Archives: music

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10 WINS FROM MY STAY IN DUBAI

 

June already! I’m almost back on Canadian soil (editing and posting this from inside an airport terminal actually), after spending half a year abroad. For this edition of Top Ten Tuesday, here are ten awesome memories and/or accomplishments from this stay in Dubai . . .

 

1.  So much writing.

Beginning on Christmas Day 2013, I promised I would write every day. Even a single sentence, or a few words; some days this meant an entire song or three, and some days it meant several scenes of a TV episode. Sometime in April or May I got a little more strict with myself, so now I have to write a snippet or piece of a song, or a song idea, every day. Even on days when I’ve completed a song. Even on days when I’m totally focused on a script and don’t want to think about writing a song.

IMG_0726So, the final tally? 52 new songs and 3 new episodes of the series I’m working on. Plus, I’ve got about 11 pages of ideas to dip into the next time I think “now what can I write a song about?” Not bad at all.

 

2.  So much sun.

What do you when it’s 50 degrees warmer where you are than it is back at home? You go to the beach.

Feb 5 2014.027It’s not like I was out there every day, but I definitely took advantage of my winter and spring in the desert — and I’ve got the tan to prove it!

 

3.  So much singing.

Being onstage six nights a week and singing so many genres (pop, reggae, rock, country, soul, Motown, blues, calypso, jazz) is awesome training. Doing so without lyrics in front of you is great for your memorization skills. Doing so in heels has left my feet considerably uglier than they were six months ago . . . ah well, you can’t win em all.

DSC08154Shoutouts to my incredible bandmates Jo (keys) and Julian (guitar), for allowing me to experience the awesomeness that is playing with live musicians — and alllllll the hilarity that goes along with it!

 

4.  Friends from every corner of the globe.

Maybe not every single corner . . . but I now have people to welcome me in Italy, South Africa, Indonesia, Sweden, all over the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Russia, the Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, and of course here in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. And as eager as I am to get back home and hug all my people in Canada and the United States, it feels good to know that friendship transcends borders.

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IMG_0110Of course I look forward to welcoming any of my new friends if and when they find themselves in Toronto, too!

 

5.  Fly boarding.

Hands-down the coolest single activity I’ve done since leaving home.

flyboard10You can watch the video here (in fact, go do it right now) and I really hope I get the opportunity to do this again one day . . . Does anyone offer it in southwestern Ontario yet?

 

6.  Loving on nature.

At home I can jog along Lake Ontario, and I’m frequently amused by the friendly (well, probably just hungry) squirrels in my neighbourhood, and there are some nice views of the sunset from my building before it’s hidden by condos.  In Dubai, I’ve been bathing in the Gulf of Arabia, taking pictures of flowers and sandscapes and water views, and loving the sight (though not always the sound) of tons of birds — including obnoxious crows and shrill peacocks.

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10am in Toronto, and 6pm in Dubai

 

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There are some really cool manmade wonders out there, obviously, but it’s also been really nice to just look at a seashell or a cliff and enjoy that.

 

7.  Opportunities.

I’ll do my best to explain this clearly and without offending anyone.

Opportunities are everywhere, and so are opportunity-seekers and opportunity-creators. But it seems to me that there is a greater sense of possibility in Dubai than at home; and it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with attitude. Both Toronto and Dubai are big, bustling cities with international populations and people at different socioeconomic levels . . . but they differ when it comes to the ratio of whiners to risk-takers. At home, I find a lot of people who feel that they’re stuck in a rut. In Dubai, I find a lot of people who are hustling, who are keeping it moving, who are creating some type of change instead of just complaining.

Example: my friend Davide Giusti (grey shirt), tennis coach extraordinaire who is opening his own academy in Dubai, and 15-year-old "Rpince Pavel," a future world tennis champion from Poland

Example: my friend Davide Giusti (grey shirt), tennis coach extraordinaire who is opening his own academy in Dubai, and 15-year-old “Prince Pavel,” a future world tennis champion from Poland

This is probably because roughly 80% of the people there are expats (not local to the area, they were born somewhere else), so they’ve already taken the step of leaving home, their physical comfort zone. Granted, many of the people I met were on vacation, but when I did meet someone who’a planning to stay for awhile I tended to notice a quiet confidence and certainty that they’ll be able to do what they came here to do. And if not then they can go somewhere else and try again. It’s all good.

 

8.  Truly cherishing interaction with people from back home.

It will be such a treat to sit down and have a meal with family and friends again. Even if I don’t like the food, I have to sit on the floor, and no one says a single word for the duration of the meal.

See these two? They will be smothered with hugs very shortly . . .

See these two? They will be smothered with hugs very shortly . . .

I knew homesickness would be an issue for me; I’m glad that I came through without getting too emotional (for the most part), and I now fully understand what a musician friend of mine meant when he told me staying away for a month wasn’t enough; he wanted to be gone for long enough that he missed being home.

 

9.  Exploring.

I’ll have to make sure I do this in Toronto/Ontario/Canada too! One of the best things about travelling is getting to know a new place. I don’t mean just the people and customs and laws, I mean the physical place. When you’re new to the UAE, you ask a lot of questions like “Why isn’t there any parking?” and “Can I take the Metro?” and some more unique ones too, like “Why isn’t there a street address?”

The huge sigh of relief when you finally somehow get to the place you were hoping to find . . .

The huge sigh of relief when you finally somehow get to the place you were hoping to find . . .

I’m very grateful to anyone who has ever printed and distributed a clearly marked map, and for numerous online forums where expats and travellers share tips. I’m also newly in love with Groupon (and similar sites like Kobonaty) for offering great deals in the area, making it that much easier to get out there and try a desert safari, or flyboarding, or a double-massage deal.

 

10. Discovering and developing new talents.

I’ve dusted off my photographer, videographer, and video editor hats, in addition to writing new episodes as mentioned above. I decided to share some of my insights in a 30-day art installation project via Instagram and Facebook/Twitter . . . (stay tuned to my YouTube channel for a video recap of that, plus a video recap of the whole Dubai trip) . . . and being genuinely touched and surprised by a bandmate’s comment that I’m “so visual,” I’ve been creating collages (as seen all over this blog) that are way better than those Instathings, and I even came up with my phoenix/mermaid photoshoot out of thin air.

collages.056Plus, I commissioned two newly designed dresses and had them made at a local tailor’s (and blogged all about it), and I’m really loving finding new ways to express myself visually!

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So what’s next for me? A Top Ten Tuesday blog featuring the 10 best things about being back home?

Nah, too predictable.

See you next time ;-)

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Dubai recap – two months left!

Well hi!

130 days in Dubai … has everyone back home forgotten about me yet?  Haha!

With two more months til hometime, here are a few updates for the curious …

 

IMG_0144Our shows continue to go well, especially on Friday nights when we get to perform outside on the beach.  Here’s a clip from two Fridays ago – hopefully I’ll be able to share more with you soon!

instatrisseI now have an Instagram account, and I post new pics and/or videos every day, so you can peek in on the highs and lows of my #Dubailife =) Just follow @chattrisse

jan 30 2014Coming up next, I have my sights set on the Caribbean!  There is an incredible opportunity to spend July and August on the beautiful island of Tobago, and now that my video and bio are in, I need your help to get me there.  I’d be so grateful if you could take the time to “Like” the 60 Days in Paradise Facebook page and leave a comment about why Chattrisse Dolabaille should be the first-ever Island Connoisseur, and/or do the same thing on Twitter by mentioning @60daysparadise and @chattrisse and using the hashtag #60days … the Top Ten finalists will be announced on April 21st, and if I’m one of them I’ll need all the votes I can get to land the gig!

flyboard10Some of the experiences I’ve enjoyed here so far are camel riding, fly boarding (now that was a thrill), some shopping, lots of tanning, and even more peacock-watching.  Last week I posted ten more things that are on my to-do list … so far I’ve completed #9, booked #4 and #6, picked a tentative date for #2 and #5, and I hope to get #7 done this month as well …  stay tuned!

DSC07672And last but not least, I set a personal goal to write 50 new songs during this Dubai sojourn of mine; as of yesterday, I’m up to 37, planning to blow that goal out of the water.  Will I end up with 55?  60?  Time will tell …

 

All in all, I’m excited to go home, but I’m glad it isn’t time to go just yet.  Til next time!

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10 RULES OF FÊTIQUETTE

The first Tuesday of March 2014!  Of course this means the third installment of Top Ten Tuesdays here on my blog, but it also means Carnival is in full swing for lucky partygoers in places like Trinidad, Brazil, and even New Orleans (Happy Fat Tuesday).

Being in Dubai, I am far away from any carnivalerie, so I decided to contribute somewhat by dedicating this Top Ten post to the aforementioned partygoers – here are some words of wisdom gathered by my friends and I during the last decade or so of fêting.  Enjoy …

 

1.  When you are waiting outside to get in, know that there is a direct correlation between the amount of jokes cracked and the speed at which time will pass. To this end, it is advisable to befriend strangers in line and poke fun at whatever and whomever is nearby.

crash-party-weekendHowever, when the line starts to get too chubby at the front, the time for jokes has passed. Band together with your newfound friends and push through the blasted door.

2.  It is not okay to hold up the line at the door on your way in (or the line at the coat check on your way out) because you lost your ticket.

whiteout 2008Put your ticket inside a pocket … inside a shoe … inside your phone case …  with your ID … or, ladies, put in your bra (or your friend’s bra, if you’re really dressed to fête).

3.  So basic, but apparently this needs to be reiterated a whole lot. When you’re attempting to dance on someone and they move away from you, they are not challenging you to follow them.

no danceDisengage.

4.  Females who arrive at a fête in high heels and/or flip flops should not be mocked gratuitously for their poor selection of footwear. Keep this in mind, but feel no obligation to go out of your way just to avoid them hurting their feet …

pain scale… it’s the only way they’ll learn.

5.  Non-essential objects which fall to the floor have a retrieval time limit. If more than 30 seconds have passed since your bracelet, ring, or rag fell into the sludgy mess under your shoes, let it go.

stopwatchIf it is your earring that has fallen, no amount of time will make it safe for you to wear it again — do not, for any reason, attempt to put that piece of metal through your earlobe. Your mother raised you better than that.

6.  Those who can hold their liquor: drink freely. Those who cannot: do not ruin this night for the rest of us.

DSC08010If you are not sure which group you belong to, ask your friends.

7.  Men and boys: you know how you love looking at women’s bodies but you’re really quick to judge them?

mindblowinglyhotWomen and girls are the same way, so hit the gym before you show up and take your shirt off.

8.  Men and women: teach the boys and girls what to do and how to act. The recent influx of soca novices who seem unable to comprehend and execute even the simplest of dances …

Palance-Icon … is untenable, and action must be taken now to prevent this situation from getting worse. (And while we’re on the subject … Can we please retire Palance???)

9.  If you, like me, are tired of wining competitions which take up half of an artist’s set, meet me at the bar as soon as the selection of contestants from each Caribbean country begins.

DSC06087And to those of you craning your necks to watch the whole thing go down, don’t be surprised when Trinidad wins.

10. Enjoy yourself. To the fullest.

Return Fete 2008Carnival will come back every year … genres of music will come and go and come again … our kids and their kids will have lots of fun at parties too … but the vibe will never be the same.

Oh goshhhhhhh I’m itching to go to a fête now … miss you all!  Til next time ;-) xoxoxoxoxo

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Dubai recap – Show Week One is done …

… and today is my day off, so my goal is to bang this out and get back outside =)  (Today I finally got to the beach.  Video footage here.)

So, Jo Maharaj and I have finished our first week of shows at the White Orchid Lounge (Palm Tree Court, Jebel Ali Golf Resort, Dubai).

White Orchid Lounge

White Orchid Lounge

With the creative band name of “Jo & Chattrisse” (yep, really), we have entertained several dozen guests for four sets a night since Monday night.

1st night onstage

1st night onstage

We have crooned, laughed and sometimes improvised through such varied songs as Sweet Love by Anita Baker, Beyonce’s version of Fever (we’ve done those two every single night so far), Rehab by Amy Winehouse, Just the Two of Us by Bill Withers, Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen, Let’s Stay Together by Al Green, No No No by Dawn Penn (click here to see a snippet of video footage), and Dance with My Father by Luther Vandross.  We’ve had regulars come back for 5 or 6 nights in a row, we’ve had people up and dancing, we’ve even had the power cut out on us more than once.  (That’s when your improv and/or a cappella skills come in REALLY handy!)

We’ve garnered fans, like 5-year-old Daisy who left us this note:

It says "I love your singing so much" =D

It says “I love your singing so much” =D

And taken song requests …

We get more requests for Bob Marley than for anyone else, and people from every background you can imagine are singing along, bopping their heads, or up and dancing.  #proudtobeJamaican

We get more requests for Bob Marley than for anyone else, and people from every background you can imagine are singing along, bopping their heads, or up and dancing. #proudtobeJamaican

And I am already so wholeheartedly grateful that I’ve been given this opportunity.

If you or someone you know is in the Dubai area and wants to check us out, come through!  No cover, if you’ve got questions you can leave a comment here or at www.facebook.com/chattrisse.

And with that – it’s lunchtime!  Feel free to stay in touch via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and of course right here at www.chattrisse.com.  Thank you so much for your support and well wishes; bye for now!!!

 

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Imitation is the highest form of flattery … Really?

I’m inclined to believe that imitation is another name for laziness. There was this kid who copied something from me in third grade, some in-class thing, I don’t even remember the details. But I remember being angry about it, because I was very proud of my own creativity and my own ideas and how dare anyone else try to pass them off as theirs. As I got older, that and other experiences … like students trying to convince me to do their work for them, or asking me to cheat with/for them … led me to a conclusion which was pretty hard to shake: if you don’t have what it takes to do what I’m doing, you don’t deserve to get what I’m getting.

Yikes! Those are the kinds of words spoken by people who don’t have many friends, eh? I’ve already blogged on how I felt about collaborative work as a student, and when it comes right down to it, I still believe that everyone needs to pull their own weight.

So the years went on and I grew more entrenched in my do-it-yourself-like-I-did posture, and that (combined with my dad’s disappointment in any artist who performed a cover of someone else’s song and didn’t “do something different” with it) led me to three conclusions.

  1. Singing other people’s songs is the lazy way up for new performers.
  2. Singing songs you didn’t write yourself is subpar artistry.
  3. I, as a proud and determined singer/songwriter (emphasis on the SONGWRITER), was going to forge my way nobly up the steep hill of success by singing my own material, only occasionally throwing in a cover song to appease the masses who just didn’t know any better.

Well, if you can’t guess how that turned out, I’ve been pursuing my career for 17.5 years now and I still have a long, LONG way to go. And as I gear up to spend many, many nights singing songs that have been made famous by other people, I’ve come to a few new conclusions about cover songs and cover bands and cover singers.

  1. Singing other people’s songs is how every one of us started, unless someone can find me a singer who was creating original lyrics and melodies from the time he or she learned to sing.
  2. Singing songs you didn’t write yourself can help you become a better writer, much like reading books you didn’t write yourself can sharpen your skills as an author.
  3. I, with full firsthand knowledge of how difficult it can be to get a crowd to warm up to a person they don’t know singing songs they’ve never heard before, really enjoy singing lots of songs I didn’t write, whether I end up modifying them or singing them exactly the way they were first performed (not all songs; there are some “classics” which crowds love and which I despise thoroughly, but those are the exception and not the rule).
  4. Some songs I’ve always loved listening to are, lo and behold, covers! “Taking a Chance on Love” has been recorded by 70 different artists and bands according to Wikipedia; it’s one of my favourite old songs and I thought the version I heard first, from 1943, was the original but it turns out it’s from Cabin in the Sky which was released in 1940. The late great Luther Vandross was a genius at breathing new life into old songs (I didn’t find that out until recently that lost of the Luther tracks I grew up listening to, like “Since I Lost My Baby” and “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” were covers). And, it takes a special kind of insight and artistry to take a previously existing song and turn it into a message for a new generation, or a response to the original track, or a challenge or tribute to the earlier creator(s). Yes, this means I don’t have a problem with most remixes and most examples of sampling. Which is funny, because the nine-year-old me would be rolling her eyes right now at all these copycats out there …

    We miss you Luther!

    We miss you Luther!

  5. Performing is not always about what the performer wants to do. It’s usually more about what the audience wants to hear. And they tend to want something familiar more than something brand new. I’m glad bands like Boyce Avenue picked up on this, because I probably wouldn’t know who they were if they had considered themselves too good to do cover songs; and now I see them as a personal musical inspiration.
My biggest audience so far (Massey Hall) was all cover songs - here I am honouring The Ronettes

My biggest audience so far (Massey Hall) was for a show of all cover songs – here I am honouring The Ronettes

Don’t get me wrong — I still feel icky about the possibility of monetary gain at someone else’s expense because I relied on their pre-existing work instead of creating anything new, so I doubt I’ll be content to only sing covers for the duration of my career. But I promise I don’t hate them any more. And yes, you’re welcome to cover one of my songs — just make sure you do a better job of it than I did. ;-)

On set for a Divine Brown video shoot ... the first time I was ever paid to dance ;-)

Singer who Moves Well

Those of you in the world of musical theatre, or anywhere else where triple threats can be found, can probably guess what this post is about.

I love to dance; I have as long as I can remember; I’ve spent lots of money and lots of time taking dance classes and workshops, I’ve choreographed and taught others, and I even convinced my father that one night a week we should watch So You Think You Can Dance Canada instead of whatever sports channel he normally lives on.  (In fact, as I post this, I’m packing up my heels for a dance class later tonight – if the video footage I get is any good, I’ll share it later!)

But when people ask me what I do, I usually say “I’m a performer” or “I write and sing” or “I’m a singer and actor” … or, if I’m in a chatty mood, “I write and sing and act and dance.” I never just say “I’m a dancer.” I would kind of feel like a fraud if I did.

For one thing, Dancer Chattrisse is a baby compared to Singer Chattrisse (started singing in public around age 6) and Actor Chattrisse (first took classes at age 8) and Writer Chattrisse (who was born at age 10, an outgrowth of Poet Chattrisse who came on the scene around the same time as Actor Chattrisse but faded into obscurity much sooner). I never took a dance class in my life until I was the ripe old age of 12, and I doubt I will ever be able to do the splits; kicks and pretty turns are still challenges for me, and it was an absolute shock to discover in 2009 that my male dance partners could lift me into the air. So dance is still the area on my resume in which I have the least experience, and therefore the least confidence.

Besides that, many of my dancer friends have been dancing since they were toddlers. Baby ballerinas are not only adorable; by the time they’re in their teens and twenties, people who have been dancing for that long (with adequate passion and proper instruction) are not to be messed with! So I have this tendency to shrink away from calling myself a dancer because to me, they are dancers.

The labels “singer who moves well” and “ strong mover” are more appropriate, as dorky as they look and sound. And I’m not saying I’ll never consider myself to be a dancer dancer, because since 2010 dance has been creeping back up my list of priorities and presenting itself as an activity that really does keep me sane. It also makes me feel liberated and sexy in a way that singing and acting don’t always do … though that may be because the styles I’ve been learning and teaching lately are almost exclusively burlesque-tinged or Caribbean. Many of my professional friends and acquaintances have been nice enough to show that they really appreciate my talent as a dancer, and if the dancer dancers are calling me a dancer, hey, I must be getting closer to the point where I am one.

For now, though, let’s not ask me to do any triple pirouettes; let’s hold off on even the double turns. Isn’t that what body doubles are for??