Tag Archives: singer

Chattrisse-online-E

10 REASONS 2014 ROCKED

Sometimes, quotes that go viral are bang on. Like this one:

highlightreel

So, full disclosure, spoiler alert, be warned! For this, my final Top Ten Tuesday (maybe ever . . . maybe just for the year 2014), I am choosing to focus only on my highlight reel. I encourage you to do the same as you reflect on that year that’s ending and the new one coming up. Here are 10 of my favourite memories from 2014 . . . they started out in chronological order but you’ll see why that didn’t last long. Enjoy!

.

1.   DUBAI, AKA THE FIRST 5 MONTHS OF THE YEAR

This is not a copout, you guys. If I tried to count and categorize my favourite individual moments from my stay in Jebel Ali, I would never ever ever finish writing this. I mean, really, which was more memorable: fly boarding, or ascending the Burj Khalifa? Swimming in salt water, or strutting in heels? Organizing photoshoots, or creating videos? Shopping for new clothes or chopping new men?

desert safari.052 IMG_0726

10am in Toronto, and 6pm in Dubai

flyboard10 IMG_0110Suffice it to say that my entire trip there, especially from January 1st until early June when I came back home, will ever be forgotten.

.

2.   FAM JAMS

And when I did come back? Family reunions galore! A roti picnic on my mom’s birthday, my cousin Derek’s wedding in Ottawa, a Thanksgiving feast in London, ON (with STUFFING!!!  WHY was that so hard to find in Dubai???), reunions with cousins I rarely see even when I am home.

IMG_2319 IMG_2322I gave and received many bone-crushing hugs, and I loved every squeeze.

.

3.   MEETING 5 NEW BABY COUSINS

Reunions are one thing; meeting and holding a new baby for the first time is, like, next-level awesome. And I was blessed with 5 (yep, 5) new baby cousins this year. In birth order: Carter, Amaya, Quinton, Iyla, Adalia.

IMG_2027

IMG_1511

IMG_2541

IMG_2538

IMG_2580

Baby bliss!!!

.

4.   GETTING BACK INTO AUDITIONING

And not just because I booked one or two roles! But the whole process, which used to feel really stressful to me, is getting more and more fun.

Pre-audition selfie ... last chance to check my eyeshadow ;-)

Pre-audition selfie … last chance to check my eyeshadow ;-)

Shoutouts to the people booking the roles I didn’t =)

.

5.   FRIEND-LY REUNIONS

Every coffee date or breakfast date or jerk chicken date with a friend I hadn’t seen in months and months was a heartbeat for me. I’m especially grateful for the CAMO Cruise, my reintroduction to Toronto’s fête society, where I cruised across Lake Ontario with good people and good music and good drinks (and okay food, lol) and thought to myself, “Man, do I love this city.” (Thanks, Nish!!!)

Nish, Dija and me!

Nish, Dija and me!

Likewise, the day after the Caribana parade, some friends and I went to a day party that gave me so much life I’ve run out of words for it. Amazing music (shoutouts to hometown hero DJ Starting from Scratch and DJ Dany Neville, from Dubai, who I finally met here in Toronto!), pretty venue, awesome people, new and old friends, randomly running into my cousin Kari . . . vibes. Loved it. (Thanks, Lincoln!)

Clockwise from the gorgeous blond-tipped curly fro, lol: Tiff, Shana, me, Nish. DJ Dany Neville is at work in the corner

Clockwise from the gorgeous blond-tipped curly fro, lol: Tiff, Shana, me, Menisha. DJ Dany Neville is at work in the corner

And let me not forget the wedding of my homegirl Allison, who I’ve known since tenth grade, to the ultra-cool Derwyn . . . I’ll just leave this picture here because with words, I literally can’t.

IMG_2203Love y’al!

.

6.   CREATING MY OWN ROUTINE

Overseas, my routine was determined by my work hours and the times that the buffet was open. Here at home, it took me awhile to settle back in, and there are still some days that get crazy, but at least I have control over the first hour or so after I wake up and the last few minutes before I go to bed. Carving out time every day to read and write and express gratitude, and even to YouTube sermons, has made a huge difference. photoIt might be the least exciting thing on this list, but it’s for sure going to be one of the most beneficial, long-term.

.

7. RELAUNCHING MY SIDE HUSTLE ;-)

Spending the first chunk of the year overseas, in some ways it was like an extended vacation. But to be honest, there were times when it felt a bit like exile. This was especially true when it came to my beauty/health/wellness business, and it was a relief to jump back in with my colleagues and my appointment lists, and some sweet new products, when I got back.

IMG_1325IMG_2444Onward, to ENVP!

.

8.   REALIZING THE POWER OF VISION BOARDS

me and Missy.002You can read all about it here, but from here on out I will be even more mindful of how powerful these things are, as material declarations. I mean, really. Wow.

.

9.   SHOOTING THE AALIYAH BIOPIC

What an experience!  Everything about this for me, from the audition process to the backlash, was important and I’m grateful for every second. But what makes it onto this list, for me, is actually being on set for this project.

#90s

#90s. The first scene

IMG_1701

Set life. L to R: James Shipp, Izaak Smith, Alexandra Shipp, AJ Saudin, me

The environment and the goal and the people, especially the people, had me really really wishing that somehow I could have stayed on set longer. As in, I would have gone on set every day just to watch and be a part of it from behind the scenes (I did, actually, on one day). Thanks to everyone involved; much love!

.

10.  UNSCENE

Ah, my baby. For those of you who don’t know, I’m developing a new TV show called unSCENE and this year it grew from just a pilot episode to a pilot, the finale, plus several other episodes written, numerous meetings and pitch sessions, and now (shhh, this is insider info) possibly a casting change that will turn everything I’ve already written on its head.

L to R: Sagine Semajuste, Kelsey Willmott, Jazz Testolini, Kerron Schullere, Chattrisse Dolabaille, JaNae Armogan

Queens Quay.  L to R: Sagine Semajuste, Kelsey Willmott, Jazz Testolini, Kerron Schullere, me, JaNae Armogan

Frustrating as it’s been sometimes to take care of this finicky, fussy, slow-growing project, I love it and I’m looking forward to sharing it with more of you.

And that . . . is a wrap. I have this policy where every year should be better than the year that just passed, so if you’ll excuse me, I have some work to do in advance of 2015! ;-)

DSC07287

ABOUT A YEAR AGO

It’s the evening of November 27th, 2014. I am reading a library book, editing a blog entry, messing around with lyrics for a new song, playing soca in my head, wondering why my back hurts on one side, and contemplating going to the kitchen to get a snack . . . all pretty much at the same time.

I was doing a lot of things at this time on last November 27th, too. I was at the Lester B Pearson International Airport and I was wondering what I had forgotten to pack, helping carry bags and musical instruments, joking around to keep myself from feeling nervous, celebrating the fact that the wind and snow outside had lost their power over me, taking pictures, saying goodbye to my parents, and forbidding myself to cry. I was about to leave home for my first overseas gig, to spend six months singing in Dubai.

It’s times like this that I realize, all over again, what a difference a year makes.

Here are some current-me updates, in case me-from-a-year-ago is interested. Since last November 27th, I have:

 

– completed the Dubai gig (153 shows done, and 52 songs written during downtime, but who’s counting?)

– met some great new and hopefully lifelong friends

– gained and lost weight

– gained and lost and gained hair length

– gained and lost a glorious Arabian tan

– developed and recovered (?) from crushes on numerous men from the UK

– tried fly boarding

– landed my first role in a feature film, gaining insight about myself and other people as I learned what it feels like to be the subject of criticism in the big wide world of social media

– been blessed by the arrivals of 5 (!) new baby cousins and joined several of my friends in welcoming their new babies too

– married off one of my dearest friends; this time a year ago she and her husband weren’t even engaged yet

– made lots of progress in the creation and development of a new TV series

– paid off a significant amount of my personal debt

– successfully relaunched my online beauty/health/wellness business, and found some new outlets for my skills as a writer/blogger and editor while continuing to create and go to auditions

 

That list looks pretty good to me! Heading into this American Thanksgiving weekend, I’m reminded again of how much I have to give thanks for in just the last year alone. Now, let’s see what other tricks 2014 has up its sleeve . . . =)

june 016

10 AWESOME THINGS MY PARENTS GAVE ME

One of the nicest arguments I’ve ever been a part of occurred on set this summer, with a hairstylist and a makeup artist. This was a mature, respectful version of “my mom/dad is cooler than your mom/dad, nah nah nah boo boo!” So, for this month’s edition of Top Ten Tuesday, I’m listing the reasons why I will win this contest against anyone, anytime. With the omission of some of obvious gifts, like long fingers and specific words of wisdom and height (#irony), here is a list of things my parents gave me that prove they totally rock.

.

1.   GOOD GENES

I definitely use great products, and I do my best to get reasonable amounts of sleep, and both of these habits help keep me youthful and fabulous. But honestly,  I got some really good DNA too! The first thing people notice about my mother and father is how young they look.

Dad and I at TIFF 2014

Dad and I at TIFF 2014

Mom and I at a cousin's wedding, September 2014

Mom and I at a cousin’s wedding, September 2014

I am eternally grateful to them for passing these genes on to their offspring, as evinced in the fact that someone canvassing me for a donation to TVO last weekend had to stop and ask if I’m 18 yet.

.

.
2.  MUSICAL TALENT

Music runs in my veins on both sides. From my parents (a drummer and singer, and a flutist) to their parents and siblings and beyond, it’s in my DNA.

Dad performing at the 2009 Arcadia Showcase

Dad performing at the 2009 Arcadia Showcase

My maternal grandmother even released a cassette of her original Christmas-themed Calypso songs in the 1990s.

.
3.  MUSICAL APPRECIATION

Nope, not a repeat of #2. I grew up on oldies. I wasn’t even allowed to decide what music I wanted to hear until I was a tween. Sure, I was last to learn any of the words to “Juicy” by Biggie Smalls, but I still know all the words to “Juicy Fruit” (which “Juicy” sampled).

mtumeMtume was and still is the jam.

.
4.   EARLY AND FREQUENT EXPOSURE TO BOOKS

. . . lots of them!! I remember Mom pointing at the words in my storybooks as she read, guiding me to recognize the words instead of just hearing the sounds. I’m told that I started reading on my own at the age of 3, sounding out the word “Batman” on the back of a cereal box. Dad is forever tossing me books to read (y’know, like Roots when I was 12 years old).

My current reading situation

My current reading situation

Leaders are readers . . . I will always be a very proud Nerd Word!

.
5.   INDEPENDENCE

My parents made sure I knew how to use the TTC even though most of my suburban neighbours didn’t. I started working at 15. I paid my way through university with awards and scholarships.

Jogging. In a desert. In Dubai. Alone. Why not.

Jogging. In a desert. In Dubai. Alone. Why not.

There have been times I’ve wished some of the above things weren’t the case, but overall I’m so grateful.

.
6.   FREEDOM

Man, I never even had a curfew.

My first time taking a solo vacation; Cuba =)

My first time taking a solo vacation; Cuba =)

My parents trusted not only me but their own parenting skills enough to trust that I would make good choices, for the most part. And, for the most part, I think they would agree that I did. Good job, Mom and Dad!

.
7.   YOUNG PARENTS

. . . especially in the case of Mama Dukes, who chauffeured my friends and I to and from clubs starting back when I was 14. (Relax; these were all-ages events.) My parents had me during the year they turned 22, and I felt like they were so much more relevant to and understanding of my life as a young person than most of the parents of my friends, who were older.

Honestly. They look like teenagers. YOUNG teenagers.

Honestly. They look like teenagers. YOUNG teenagers.

I did want to start having children when I was in my super-early twenties too . . . ah well, can’t win ‘em all =)

.
8.   THE TRAVEL BUG

Not only have my parents always encouraged me to travel, I sometimes get to travel with one of them, and sometimes they even foot the bill!

Here they are almost a year ago, seeing me off as I set out to spend 6 months in the United Arab Emirates

Here they are almost a year ago, seeing me off as I set out to spend 6 months in the United Arab Emirates

Ooooh, I am so glad I didn’t get parents of the “it’s a big bad scary world so stay home” variety.

.

9.   THE BEST EXTENDED FAMILIES I COULD ASK FOR

I mean, did I win a birth lottery somehow??? I am SO blessed to be the daughter of my parents and the granddaughter of my grandparents, the niece of my aunts and uncles and the great-niece of my great-aunts and great-uncles, and the cousin of my cousins.

A rare family photo; almost all of my Mom's mom's family in one shot, minus the great-grandbabies =)

A rare family photo; almost all of my Mom’s mom’s family in one shot, minus the great-grandbabies =)

My only gripe about my family is that not a single one of them live even remotely near New York City. (Apparently a college professor who shares my surname is there, but we’ve never met, so . . .)

.

10.  THE GET-OVER-IT GENE

Not that my life has been rocked by (m)any catastrophes, but one event which was painful and difficult to get over was the end of my parents’ marriage. People are constantly surprised at how well my mom and dad, who split up more than 20 years ago, get along with each other today. This was just one of the ways they taught me what to do with obstacles, challenges, “hurtful” events: get past, through, over, and/or around them.

IMG_1517 IMG_1386Lesson learned, you two.

.

I hope I can be half as amazing when it’s my turn to raise children. <3

june 016

IMG_0415

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.

jan 12 2014.012

DSC08230

IMG_0915mushreffive

IMG_0992

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.

IMG_0648

10am in Toronto, and 6pm in Dubai

 

IMG_0060

IMG_0044

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!

tailor made.060

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 ;-)

IMG_0202

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!

DSC07519

Dubai recap – 2 months in and still going strong …

Before this stint in the Middle East, the longest I had ever been away from home was about 7 weeks, when I interned in Washington, DC.  (Shoutout to everyone from BET’s main campus!) So one thing I was excited to experience was being away from home for a long time. Anything over 3 or 4 months, with no visits back home, is long to me.

Now it’s been 2 months since I left Toronto (flew out on November 27th), and I can honestly say the time is going by faster than I thought it would. Working 6 nights a week is probably one of the reasons why. In Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple one of the characters says “Time moves slowly, but passes quickly” and that is so true – sometimes I’m in the middle of a set thinking “How is it that only 16 minutes of this set have passed and there are still THREE MORE SETS to go before bedtime?!?”

And yet, when I look back through my photos and videos, I’m reminded that I’ve been making good use of the time here. So let’s get you caught up a bit …

DSC07297Ah, the lovely White Orchid Lounge! This has been our show venue since we arrived and in less than a week we will be moving to a different stage here on the resort. I wish we could take all the White Orchid staff with us because they’re so fantastic … fingers crossed, we might get to bring one or two of them … and although I know I’ll miss the children who come dance to our music and the view from the balcony overlooking the pool, I’m looking forward to our new venue too. For one thing, my “commute” will be much shorter … instead of a 3-minute walk, it’ll be a 30-second elevator ride. #likeaboss

 

January 12, 2014

January 12, 2014

I’ve been getting off the resort and into the city a bit more, which is both nice and necessary.  Almost once a week I find myself at the famous Dubai Mall … it’s humongous and one of my fave shopping centres so I have no complaints on that score! We’re currently in the midst of the Dubai Shopping Festival (yep, that’s a real thing – check the pic below) so between that, looking around in souks like the one where I got the pink wallet/clutch pictured above for less than ten dollars, and a visit to the Dubai Outlet Mall (now that’s a heavenly word combination), I’ve been snagging some great deals.

DSC07717

And I have to say, I feel like I’m settling in pretty well! Eating three times a day is awesome. The weather has had its ups and downs, but it looks like it’s starting to heat back up slowly but surely. Being 9 hours ahead of home makes it tricky to stay in touch as much as I’d like to, but Facebook has become my lifeline and I’m very grateful for Skype as well. I’ve met some awesome people, I’ve written 6 new songs in just over 8 weeks, I’m finding a balance between work and play, and I’m already very excited about the rest of 2014 and into 2015. Oh, and I’m slowly tanning. =)

Stay tuned for more updates and another Top Ten list coming your way!  (The first Tuesday of every month.)  Check out my YouTube channel for videos of the Dubai Marina, the dancing fountains at the Dubai Mall, a baby peacock, clips of our White Orchid performances, and – soon – my first completed video project since I got here.  Much love …

DSC07365

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!!!

 

SONY DSC

Three Things Non-Artists Should Never Ask their Artist Friends

I’m hoping you’ll forgive me for being a bit tongue-in-cheek here. If that’s even the right phrase. Whatever!

Have you ever tried to communicate with a person who spoke the same language as you, but your backgrounds were so different you didn’t understand each other? That’s how I feel sometimes when I’m talking to someone who knows very little about auditions, onscreen or onstage productions, or the studio recording process.

The first barrier to communication here is that the other person is probably a regular enjoyer and consumer of entertainment. So when we start discussing the creation of music or TV or live shows, they often feel like they know what they’re talking about. They usually don’t.

The second barrier is that it’s damn near impossible for a performer/artist to be emotionally detached from their professional results. So my well-meaning friend might ask me about a recent shoot or tryout just out of curiosity, with no idea that he’s grating on my nerves because I’m still allowing myself to feel upset that I didn’t do well, or wondering when they’re going to announce who got the part, or whatever.

While this divide will never completely disappear, I thought I’d contribute a few tips to the “normal” folks out there to keep in mind when you’re interacting with someone like me. Here are three things NOT to ask your artist and/or performer friends …

 

"If I had a quarter for every time I heard that ... I wouldn't be a starving artist"

“If I had a quarter for every time I heard that … I wouldn’t be a starving artist”

#1 – “How did the audition go?”

Right off the bat, let me say that artists will ask this of other artists all, the, time. This is because they understand the process firsthand, and it might even be a matter of comparing experiences auditioning for the same person or production. But if you aren’t an artist, it might be best to keep your mouth shut until your artist friend volunteers information about it.

You know how it feels when you’re job-hunting? Sometimes exciting or challenging, but more often frustrating and tiring? That’s how auditioning is, but with more of a personal buy-in and in some ways more pressure, and typically with less prep time. If I have just delivered my song and/or lines to strangers and interacted with them while continuously asking myself “Is this going well?” and you’re now asking me “Did you get it? … What do you mean, you don’t know? … Well, when will they tell you? … What do you mean, you don’t know?” … You’re not likely to get a smile from me. Not only am I (because I’m a tortured perfectionist) already knee-deep in self-admonishment about things I should have done differently; I’m also trying in vain to stop thinking about it because there’s no point rehashing anything that just happened and I’ve either got to focus on my next audition or focus on something else to distract me from the fact that I don’t have any other auditions lined up yet. Don’t worry. If the audition went well, you can trust me to tell you about it. (And even then, it’s best not to keep asking me whether I’ve heard back yet. Just try to do what I try to do and stop thinking about it.)

 

#2 – “Can I come with you next time?”

I get it. You think set life and studio life are glamorous and interesting. Sometimes that’s true! But I’d much rather you get your fix of celebrity (hahaha!) fun by doing something other than following me to work. The most obvious reason for this is that I want you to see a finished product, not the often-ugly process behind it. I don’t necessarily want you to hear the ugly process either — even I can’t stand listening to the playback from my takes in the recording booth half the time, so why would I share that dirty laundry with you?? The other reasons sound something like this …

One of my closest friends came with me to a recording session when we were in university. (Bless her heart! I think I invited her, back in the day before I knew better.) By the time we finally got home we had heard the friggin song five bazillion times and caught what sleep we could wrapped up in our coats on the dirty carpet of the studio. Sounds like fun, right? She wisely chose not to attend the video shoot for that song, which ended around 5am and was not nearly as fun as I’d hoped. Laughing at things that no one else found funny (like coffee being spilled on the equipment, and the video girls continually giving stinkeye to the camera and the singer) was all that kept me sane that night.

You know those behind-the-scenes features that let fans get a look at the creative process? Trust me; in most cases, you don’t want a closer look than that. If I feel it’s important to have you there because you’re part of the project, or the song is about you, or whatever, I will ask you to come in at a mutually convenient time. And if you choose to ignore this advice and pester me until you do end up on set or in the studio, don’t complain about how bored you are. I knew you’d be bored on set because I’ve spent hours being bored on set for you.

 

#3 – “Can you do this as a freebie?”

This is a big one. Your photographer friend, your cousin who plays in a jazz trio, your professional dancer girlfriend, and your uncle who does work on the radio probably all think very highly of you. But it puts them in an extremely uncomfortable position when you ask or expect them to do those things for you (or worse, for someone they don’t even know) without pay.

If a free or discounted service or product is offered by the artist, that’s one thing. That means they’ve already considered the financial loss, the potential gain, and the value of them offering that to you as a gift. And just like in non-artistic fields, if you don’t agree with the rate, you’re free to negotiate or look elsewhere. So know that this tip isn’t about those circumstances.

This tip is about assuming that because I love singing, I should sing at your event for free. After all, you love writing short stories, and one day you gave me one you wrote just for me and you never asked me for a penny. Here’s the thing — if your income is derived from your nine-to-five(s) and not from your short stories, your art is a hobby. Mine is a profession.

There are lots of other reasons to refuse these requests. Your uncle might belong to a union which has rules against him doing voice work for free. Your cousin has put more time and money than you are aware into their art (and so have the other musicians in that trio). Your girlfriend may be losing money just by attending your party instead of being paid to dance  somewhere else that night. And if your friend’s pictures look good enough to capture your neighbour’s wedding, doesn’t he deserve compensation? So while we’re still new and learning, by all means, let’s talk discounted rates. But when we’ve reached the professional level, please respect that the same way you respect the work and rates of professionals in other areas. (While we’re on the subject, one of my singer friends recently told me that she’s singing for free at a family member’s wedding because her mom accepted the booking on her behalf. Do you know any doctors whose mothers  arrange for them to do unpaid surgeries as a favour for someone else? Give me a break!)

 

Wow, this ended up being a long piece! But I hope this has helped some of my people … my talented, hardworking, often underappreciated, sometimes overly idealistic but nevertheless brave people … to be better understood by the normal population. =)

Me, Taylor Evans and Jazz Testolini backstage at The Opera House. I adore singing with these two!

I really would love to be part of a group …

Remember doing group work in school?

Yeah. I couldn’t stand it. I felt like I was always the student who did more than her share of work because someone had to overcompensate for the people who weren’t motivated by good grades or high achievement. (And for the record, no, good grades aren’t everything. But in school, they’re the main measuring tool. I was usually upset to receive anything lower than 90%.)

So any time the idea of singing in a group came up, I was quick to dismiss it. I grew up LOVING vocal groups like TLC and Boyz II Men, and still do, but I couldn’t picture myself as a member of a group. Chattrisse, in my mind, was a solo act. A one-woman success story. My African name at the time was Zenzele, which translates to “she will do it herself,” and I really wasn’t looking for any company onstage. Having to deal with multiple egos and personalities, running the risk of becoming a backup performer while the lead singer hogs the spotlight, and then having to split the paycheque between two or three or five people on top of all that??? No thanks.

I guess back then I still believed that you could do big, huge, world-shaking, record-breakingly awesome things on your own. And the further away I get from my school years and their haunting memories of “group” “work,” the more I realize that having a team not only makes most goals more easily attainable, it also lets you have way more fun along the way.

For example, I did a theatre tour earlier this year with two fellow cast members, and the energy we brought to the stage when all three of us were “on” was awesome. The backstage hijinks were also way more fun than if I were just noticing something funny with no one to share it with. And when one of us was feeling sick or extra tired, there were two other people there who could lend extra support. (Shoutout to Madeleine Jullian and Phil Poirier, I had a blast!)

Madeleine/Mollie, Chattrisse/Puppareena, Phil/Twitter - our last show

Madeleine/Mollie, Chattrisse/Puppareena, Phil/Twitter – our last show

Have you ever danced a solo? I’m still slightly terrified of that (working on it). But dancing that same piece with two other performers feels wicked! And honestly, as a singer, one of the best sounds in the world is your voice harmonizing with other voices.

So while I haven’t completely changed my mind about being in a group … for example, I’m not seeking group members and if I were I would try to create something where all the performers share the spotlight, taking turns singing lead on different singles … I’m not totally opposed to it anymore. It might be fun. It might be a ton of fun. And if it doesn’t work out, leaving a group has been a great launch to a solo career for lots of people.  ;-)

Oh, I almost forgot: the picture up top is of me, Taylor Evans and Jazz Testolini backstage at The Opera House. I adore singing with these two! I don’t know how long we’d last as a group though, lol! xoxo