NEWS: ARTICLES+REVIEWS

"Clamoring for a Pinay's Mesmerizing Voice" from AJ Press with Asian Journal

SET to debut worldwide on April 6, 2010, is a new double-CD from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member David Byrne (Talking Heads) and British beat-master Fatboy Slim, titled "Here Lies Love." The all-star album from Nonesuch Records is a disco-pop opera about former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos and her childhood yaya, Estrella Cumpas.

Each of the 22 songs on the project is sung by a different guest vocalist which includes an all-star cast like Cyndi Lauper, Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant, Martha Wainwright, and Sia. Together with the celebrity vocalists in the album, David Byrne chose one Filipina, multi-awarded and acclaimed Fil-Am jazz vocalist Charmaine Clamor.

Charmaine said. "IÆm thrilled and honored to be included on this intriguing project. Mr. Byrne is a musical legend, and the other singers on æHere Lies LoveÆ are some of the giants of the industry. IÆm proud to represent my Pinoy Community, especially since I grew up under the Marcos regime and understand fully what role Mrs. Marcos played in Filipino history."

Music critics have been stunned and mesmerized with Charmaine Clamor ever since 2005 when she came out with her first album, "Searching for the Soul." Jazz Times Magazine described her as "a dynamic new compass point in world music." Jazz critic Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times stated that "Her debut album, æSearching for the SoulÆ, announced the arrival of an impressive new vocal artist." He subsequently wrote that Charmaine is "one of the important and original new jazz singers of the decade."

Two years later in 2007, Charmaine released another critically acknowledged album, "FlippinÆ Out". Once again, she captivated the music world, specially jazz enthusiasts, by creating a whole new musical genre-her own new style of music which she has coined as "Jazzipino"- a genre of music utilizing American jazz, blues, soul, Filipino folk music, and other musical forms.

In her meteoric rise to the top, Clamor has simultaneously made the top 5 on both JazzWeekÆs World (#2) and Traditional Jazz (#4) charts and is the first Filipino-American artist to place two consecutive recordings in the World Music top 10. She has been profiled on NPRÆs "Weekend Edition" and BBCÆs "The World." Charmaine performs at AmericaÆs leading jazz clubs in New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, and Miami, in performing arts centers, and concert halls.

She frequently top bills Filipino cultural celebrations, such as the San Francisco Filipino-American Jazz Festival and the Filipino LibraryÆs annual gala in Los Angeles.

In November, 2008, Charmaine released "My Harana: A Filipino Serenade" and in September, 2009, "Jazzipino" was launched with a full fledged promotional tour in the Philippines under the Viva Records label.

Charmaine was selected by The Filipino WomenÆs Network as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the United States. In July, 2009, in San Diego, California, she won the 6th Annual Asian Heritage Award in the Performing Arts which recognizes Asian and Pacific Islander leaders in various fields. In October, 2009, Charmaine won the 12th Annual FILIPINAS Magazine Achievement Award in Entertainment. She was also honored with a special FAMAS Award (Filipino Oscar) for her cultural trailblazing.

Born in Subic-Zambales, Philippines, Charmaine revealed in an earlier interview that she has been singing since she was an infant. "My mother claims that I sang before I spoke. At three months, I started singing "Buûba." This is "Mabuhay," the Martial Law propaganda song that played every hour on the radio my parents put beside me in my crib," Charmaine said. Her singing career began when she was 3 years old. "Before grade school, I would entertain passengers on the back of buses traveling from Subic to Manila û whether they liked it or not! I always had a strong attraction to singing," she recalled.

Her parents loved to sing and they taught her Filipino songs, as well as English classics.

When she was 16, their family immigrated to the US, where she pursued a career as a physical therapist, (she has a Masters degree in Physical Therapy). She revealed in an interview featured in her website that "It is typical for a Filipino family to view the arts not as a career but rather an extracurricular activity. As an immigrant in the United States, I was not encouraged to dream about singing professionally. I was encouraged to concentrate on my studies and find a secure job. Therefore, I followed the norm and pursued physical therapy, a field that I was interested in as well."

Working as a full-time physical therapist in hospitals and clinics, Charmaine admitted that the time came when she just had to heed to her true calling as a singer. "I decided to jump off the cliff, quit as a full time physical therapist, and pursue a career in music when I just could not deny the hunger I had in me to perform. People always claim to embrace "carpe diem," but few of us actually seize the day," she said.

ClamorÆs music has been called original and innovative, and her obvious love for and loyalty to her Filipino heritage has made her so beautifully unique. Her albums represent the first time that a distinct Filipino flavor has been added into the melting pot of American jazz. " ItÆs the first time songs entirely in Tagalog have been heard on mainstream American radio stations! Its novelty, I believe, is what contributed to jazzipinoÆs success," said the diva.

Believing that her musical success is a direct result of her unusual voice ("A gift from my parents") and her accepting and exploring her minority status as a Filipino, CharmaineÆs songs proudly display her cultural heritage. Her lifelong dream has been to share the music of the Philippines to a wider audience and she has truly done it with her best- selling albums.

Explaining that Filipinos need to be Filipinos, the singer said she yearned to find her own identity while living as an immigrant in LA for many years. "How can an artist grow successfully without embracing her own culture? My Filipino heritage is rich, and panahon na to share it with the world. Placing two consecutive jazzipino albums in the top 10 of the world music radio charts is pretty good evidence, I believe, that the world is ready to listen," noted Charmaine.

One of CharmaineÆs songs which made an impact is the satirical song, "My Funny Brown Pinay", which is a remake of the classic "My Funny Valentine." The song sends a strong message to Filipinas around the world to be proud of their color and native qualities. Clamor admitted that having been conquered by the Spanish for many years, the Filipinos have lost pride in their indigenous beauty. While in the Philippines, she herself tried every soap and cream to lighten her skin and pinched the bridge of her nose to make it pointy. (As you can see, that didnÆt work!"). But in America, Charmaine has experienced being appreciated for her Filipina qualities, like her brown skin and dark hair. With her song, Charmaine is encouraging her "Pinay" sisters to appreciate and embrace their natural beauty.

Clamor has explained that America is her home while the Philippines is her homeland. ThatÆs why everything she does as an American is influenced by memories of the Philippines. With this love for the two cultures, Clamor has founded JazzPhil-USA, a non-profit organization that promotes jazz artists of Filipino descent in the United States and has been credited with introducing Filipino culture to mainstream audiences.

Later this year, Charmaine will narrate a 60-minute documentary film, The Hidden Dream, which explores FilipinosÆ relationships with America. Commenting on her success, the acclaimed vocalist says, "I feel extravagantly blessed to earn a living by creating music, by singing. IÆm essentially making a career out of something that I would do for free, out of sheer love. I feel satisfied that when I leave this world IÆll know that I honored my individual gifts and, at the same time, contributed to the global recognition of my native culture."

Readers may catch Charmaine Clamor in LA during her one-night-only concert at HollywoodÆs famed jazz club, Catalina Bar & Grill, on Saturday April 10, at 8pm. The concert will celebrate her first appearance on an international pop album, Here Lies Love, and she will be singing her track from that project, Walk Like a Woman. Visit www.CatalinaJazzClub.com for more information.

by AJ Press, for Asian Journal, MARCH 15, 2010

POSTED ON MARCH 15, 2010