"Clamor to Swing in Vallejo" from Rich Freedman with Vallejo Times-Herald

CHARMAINE CLAMOR follows her second album, 'Flippin' Out' with an appearance on the Bay Stage on Saturday at the Solano County Fair.

If Charmaine Clamor rolled up a "Guide to the Stars" and put a little muscle into a hard throw, she could almost hit the famed HOLLYWOOD sign from her home. And the Walk of Fame? A short stroll.

Not that it's made the "jazzipino" vocalist's show business career any easier. Apparently, a selection by The Filipino Women's Network as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the United States won't convince the checker at Von's to load up a grocery cart with free food.

"It's super challenging," said Clamor, due at the Solano County Fair with a Bay Stage performance Saturday night. "It's very, very challenging."

Because Clamor's "Flippin' Out" recording is on an independent label, "I don't have this huge machinery," she said. "I have to work. I have to put on a hat as artist and business person. Most artists would love to just play and create. I would love to get there some day."

Then again, when an artist "manages everything," she has "a lot of control" over what goes on the CD.

"Though I wouldn't mind giving some of that control up," Clamor said. "And focus on the artistic aspect and continue to grow and create. That's Nirvana."

But then, there's the performance. It's what the native of Subic-Zambales craves.

"That's the reward," she said. "That and connecting with the audience."

Clamor loves the Great American Songbook and even includes her jazz version of rock group U2's "With or Without You" on her latest recording.

"It's the way I hear it ('With or Without You') in my head," she said. "I think the lyrics should be dark and more melancholy than rocking out. I don't know if U2 would approve, but that's how I hear it."

It's all part of Clamor's unique style, which is where "jazzipino" comes into play. It's a word Clamor and her manager conceived. "It's the synthesis of soul and swing, of American jazz and melodies, instruments and languages of my native Philippines," Clamor said, laughing that "Making money on it ('jazzipino') would be good for me. I'll have to copyright it."

Clamor was a mere 3 when she first faced an audience, singing on a bus to any passengers willing to listen. Yes, she remembered.

"I do. It's incredible," Clamor said. "I would see images in my head when I was very, very little. It's a fond memory that gives me pleasure. My mom said they would be so delighted because this young kid was wailing. She said they would applaud." Clamor laughed. "That was my first gig," she said. "It's their fault."

Clamor arrived in Southern California from the Philippines 20 years ago after U.S. bases closed where her parents worked.

While accustomed to jammed roadways - "The traffic in Manila is really bad" - there was a "culture shock" of adjusting to the way of L.A. life, Clamor said. "Friendship is not as easy," she said. "I do have some great friends, but it's not as easy to come by. It's so easy to get lost."

Clamor didn't only become enamored with music when she was younger. She was a nature lover "even as a child," and supports several environmental causes.

"When I got older, I learned more about global warming and how our daily activities contribute to that," said Clamor. "I'd love to be more involved."

Clamor said she's excited about her first Vallejo appearance, acknowledging the many Filipino residents here. "I love to connect with my brothers and sisters," she said. "I love talking to fans. It's one of the joys I get from performing."

It could be the latest step in gaining notoriety that some day may land Clamor next to Etta James and Sarah Vaughan on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "I think it would be a little weird, though my mom truly believes it will happen," Clamor said. "It's too surreal to even think about. I would definitely have my handprints and footprints, too."

by Rich Freedman, for Vallejo Times-Herald, JULY 11, 2008