Cherine: The sexy side of Dancehall Soul
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
The year 2011 has been a pretty productive one for Cherine. She has dropped her surname, Anderson, has a new album coming and new singles on the market. She has also formed a new band and strikes a new, sexier image.
And it's only summer!
But that's how one builds a brand. One has to plan and work tirelessly. For Cherine, from that plan has emerged a picture of where she wants to be as she rides her talent to international superstardom. "The plan was to release seven (singles) between the beginning of this year and summer.
"We successfully released about six and we're holding off on the next single until the album comes out," Cherine said as she sat comfortably under an ackee tree on the lawns of Devon House, waiting for her assistant to bring her some juice. It's a hot day and there is a mild breeze, but she seems comfortable in a tan blouse, jean shorts, and open-toe flats. A hat covers her pinned up straightened brown hair. Her legs are crossed, left over right.
Since the start of the year, she has released Rebel with Danielle D.I.; as well as Fade to Black for UIM records; Hall of Fame produced by The Wizard for Fiwi Music; Make Up Sex, for Ward 21; her latest, Call On Me, with Chuck Fenda; and We Don't Stop, aka Ring Di Alarm, which came out of her Dancehall Soul Productions label.
" It's been a slew of singles and we've been blessed to have some that have really resonated with the public like Make Up Sex and Rebel and now, increasingly, Call On Me is gaining some legs in radio both here and abroad, and we're getting ready to put a video to it," she said.
Make up Sex was among those that resonated with fans across the world but others have begun to blaze a trail for the talented songstress from Rockfort, St Andrew.
" Make up Sex, when we released it first, it was the hip hop people who really locked on to it, people as far as Kenya, Hawaii, Germany, the United Kingdom, and then Rebel is slowly creeping into a lot of those markets, especially the dancehall and reggae markets abroad," she said. "It's pretty much been on all the local charts here, on the New York reggae charts, the South Florida reggae charts. They're starting to get it on Hot 97 in New York, and that's predominantly an urban and R&B station, in the UK Choice FM, BBC, so a lot of the urban stations are playing Rebel."
Her latest single, Call On Me, that was released just about a month ago, has been even more impressive as response to it has been instantaneous.
"We were getting calls from radio stations in Hawaii, Kenya, Ghana, Gambia, Choice FM and BBC. It was instant. People are saying that Call On Me is really the next big hit and is the perfect follow up to Coming Over Tonight."
The album is set for release in the fall, she said, somewhere between September and October. Her eyes widen in excitement as she mentioned the project, almost a labour of love that she has been working on for almost a year but that is now coming to a beautiful conclusion.
"We're pretty much done. We're in the mixing phase of the record and I can safely say you have Sly and Robbie, who are producing on it, you have David Norland. There is also production from Shadow and Dream Queen from Dancehall Soul Productions," she said. "We're still toying with a couple of songs that might make it but I won't be calling those producers names until we are certain that those songs will be on it. But 99 per cent of the record will be brand new songs."
She has not yet decided to release, the name of the song that will lead off before the album release but hints that it could be Call On Me because of the reception it has received.
"It fits perfectly, too, with what some of the album sounds like," she said.
Promotion of the album will coincide with its release and will involve her new band, The Rockfort Rebels, with whom she performed on the Layers of Soul series that airs on Television Jamaica. Shows in the United States and Europe are being planned but the tour will not be limited to just those destinations.
"We'd love to go back to Australia and places like Japan where I lived for a minute. There are other markets that are opening up and we have had already had offers from places like Kenya, so we're looking to see what's possible, because I really want to be touring with my band, not just Cherine, but Cherine and the Rockfort Rebels, so we can give them that Dancehall Soul kinda show," she said.
Wherever she tours, however, fans will be seeing a sexier Cherine; different hair, different feel but, according to her, someone who has always been there but perhaps now coming more to the fore as she continues to evolve. "I think it (the sexuality) was always there. When I came out first, I had songs out like Skin To Skin, and Cookie and Good Love, all of those are very sensual songs but the songs that resonated first we the songs on the Roots-Reggae rhythms," she said.
"Perception is a hell of a thing because somebody hears something slow, the first thing they formulate in their head is she is roots, she is conscious, she is Rasta, all these things, but it is a complete contradiction because Good Love does not suggest, in any way, shape or form, somebody who is completely roots, neither does Skin To Skin but I think as I grow as an artist, as I grow as a young woman, I am coming much more into just letting it all out there."
Breaking the perception is the main reason why she dropped the Anderson and now performs only as Cherine. "When they see Cherine Anderson on a record, they're expecting a natural-hair girl who fell in love with a Rasta Man ... so that's why I say it's a perception thing. People took my character from a movie and thought that is who she is as a singer, and that is who she is as a person. I am not just that, I am all of that and more. I am the girl who sings Rebel; I am the girl who sang, even before that, Cookie, and Kitty Cat and Put It on Me and Skin To Skin. All of those songs have been very sensual, I have never been afraid to talk about issues that affected me as a woman," she said.
She continued: "I celebrate being sexy, I celebrate being independent, being feminine, being street, being rebellious, being very intelligent and being conscious and I think the modern-day woman - and I do consider myself that - are all these things, so Cherine and Dancehall Soul is the same, where street meets sweet, where all these different genres meld."