Family 'backs up' performers

Published: Sunday | April 8, 2007

TOP: QQ (seated) may be surrounded by young and not-so-young fans, but it is his father, GQ, who takes care of business. - Contributed
BELOW: Richard Chin and daughter Tessanne perform at 'A Magical Occasion, Celebrating Fathers', held at the Hilton Kingston hotel, Knutsford Boulevard, New Kingston, on Sunday, June 18, 2006. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer

Krista Henry, Staff Reporter

"My balance comes from my family. They tell me when I do something good. I think what celebrities lose is that they lose touch with reality because everybody kind of works for them and they just want their job. But my family doesn't care."

- Beyonc Knowles, who is managed by her father.

In the world of music where life is constantly on the 'go' and performers are caught up in the whirlwind of tours, studio work and producing hit songs, a number of artistes depend on their families for support. And for some artistes, music is a family affair.

In the United States, Beyonc's father, Matthew Knowles, managed her former group Destiny's Child and now handles her solo career. Beyonc's mother, Tina Knowles, designs all her outfits. Joe Simpson is at the helm of his daughters', Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, careers as manager.

On the local scene, family plays a key role in the lives of some of Jamaica's brightest new stars.

Sisters Tami and Tessanne Chin were raised in a musically inclined family. Their mother, Christine Chin, was part of the all-female band, The Carnations, and was also one of the first female trumpeters in Jamaica. While the sisters were growing up, the family house was used to facilitate band rehearsals through a studio, 'The Underground', built by Richard and Christine Chin, and it was there that Tami recorded her debut album.

In a previous interview with The Gleaner entitled, 'Tessanne Chin - ready to rock the music industry ', she said, "Our parents brought us up to believe in what we do and they support us in what we do. They taught us that it's best to do what you love because it makes no sense being in a job that you don't love. Our parents built this studio for us so that we wouldn't face the problem many artistes face of not having a studio to work in. They always taught us to express ourselves freely and we can do that in our own studio."

Christine Chin enrolled her daughters in Cathy Levy's Little People Teen Players group, which both singers attest did a lot for developing their confidence and musical abilities.

For Joseph 'GQ' Dawkins, father and manager of teen star, Kareem 'QQ' Dawkins, music was never a part of his life until he became aware of his son's talent. "Music was introduced to me by QQ. My friends called me from England and told me to listen to my son's songs. As soon as I went back to England I saw him perform and knew he had a talent. But there were certain tings he couldn't handle, so I had to step in," he said.

Dad thinks it's best

While QQ has a strong team around him to assist in his career, his father thinks it best to handle management duties. "He's my child; I know I won't overwork him. Another manager may be more concerned about money and not his health and well-being. As a parent, I think of him as my child and I think as a manager," GQ said. Despite the fact that QQ is only 13 years old GQ allows him to make his own decisions, whether it is about music or otherwise.

Janet Strachan, mother of World Championship of the Performing Arts standout duo, singers Ana and Samantha Strachan, helps to manage the careers of all her daughters. Ana, 22; Danielle, 20, and Samantha, 17, are all involved in the entertainment business. Ana and Samantha have blown away the minds of countless persons with their strong, melodic voices. Danielle, according to her mother, has an impeccable ear for music, helps to arrange songs and conduct rehearsals, as well as designs the outfits for her sisters, while getting more involved in singing as a career for herself.

The Strachan sisters may have got their talents from their mother, who used to play piano and sing with the Jamaica Folk Singers and the St. Andrew Singers.

"I realised that they had talent from very early. We used to entertain a lot at home and invariably someone who didn't bring a video camera would leave to get one to videotape Samantha. Of course, you had to stand at attention when she was performing; she would have it no other way. They were exposed to as many extra-curricular activities that time would allow. We used to live in our car. From swimming, dancing with Ms. McGowan, to piano, the violin, gymnastics, even athletics," Janet Strachan said.

"We are all influenced in one way or another by our parents, who are influenced by their own life experiences. That being said, my girls are independent-minded and I am here just as a facilitator," she said.

She never had to encourage Samantha to pursue singing, while Ana was shyer and was put into voice training with Georgia Schlieffer as well as Pauline and Curtis Watson. The family surrounded themselves with a strong team and formed a company called SamAna Entertainment Ltd. Ana and Samantha are now training consistently; Samantha attends a performing arts high school and Danielle is attending the University of the West Indies.

Feels safe

With family backing, the artiste is allowed to feel safe that their business and personal lives are well taken care of. According to GQ, he is always amazed by the intelligence of his son and his acute decision-making abilities. Even though dancehall can be a dangerous, raunchy genre, he is never worried about his son. "I know him going to the top; I'm very confident in him. His academics kicking and his music kicking; he has a bright future. Sometimes I have to tek the time and listen to him; he has accomplished so much. He has not voiced for a major producer, yet he is a hit," GQ said.

Janet Strachan also listens to her daughters as they make their own choices, but she is always grateful that they take the time to listen to her advice as well. "Wisdom comes with age and their family will be the extra ears and eyes that they need to chart their path and stay grounded. They are going to be influenced one way or another and, having a strong family connection, chances are we will be able to recognise a problem early and act on it. There are going to be challenges, but we are equal to the task. It is most important to us that they not only become successful in their careers but have good characters," she explained.

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