Chart topping, Nashville artist, Chakra Bleu has been granted many awards throughout her career, including the “Arena Award. This award has been given to recipients such as Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire and is granted to artists who have contributed an inspiring presence in their community. Chakra's music captures a fusion between genres such as Reggae, Americana, Pop-Rock and R&B. Bleu’s songs have been played across the US and Europe on Top 40, Country, A/C and AAA radio. She has also been in the spotlight of many showcases such as the Bluebird Cafe and BMI.Chakra Bleu has released nine albums to date. All of her albums have had enormous success. Off her 7th album, the single "All of Me" charted #2 on the Top 40 as well as #1 on the Indie Top 40, holding for five weeks then onto #7 on the Top 100. The second single, "The Shadow," went to #4 on (NMW) Top 40. Off her 6th CD ‘Souvenir,’ five singles simultaneously bedazzled the charts.
What is your earliest memory of music? And, how did you get started in music?
My earliest memory of music was when I was about six years old, coloring on the living room floor while my parents were watching a late night show. I stopped in awe when I heard the voice of a man dressed all in black. It was Johnny Cash! His voice and presence completely mesmerized me... Not long after that, my parents noticed that I was enthralled with my brother’s guitar. It just so happened that my first-grade teacher was a guitar teacher as well. They signed me up to take lessons and I was in love with my new best friend: my guitar.
What was the first song you ever wrote? What or who inspired you to start writing music?
The first song I wrote was called “Emotions,” written when I was in the seventh grade. I was young girl starting to feel a lot of emotions then, and somehow, through all the years that I continued learning to play guitar and playing in church, must have given me enough know how to write a song. No one taught me how to construct a verse, chorus, bridge or the usual 1- 4 - 5 chord pattern of most songs that may have a minor 2 and/or 6. It all was in my head from all those years learning other singer/songwriter songs.
One of my guitar teachers turned me onto John Denver. His love for nature and the way he wove melodies and lyrics around his love for nature had an interesting influence on me. I also was highly influenced by my older brother’s album collections of Fleetwood Mac, Boston, Eagles, Hall & Oats, etc. I also had taken a liking to traditional Country artists such including Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Waylon, Willie and so many more. This mix of Country and Rock brewed the beginnings of what would shape my style of Americana music.
Do you play any instruments? If yes tell us about it. If not, do you work with a band or studio musicians? Do you produce your tracks or work with a producer?
Voice, Acoustic and electric guitar and mandolin are my primary instruments; bass and keys are my secondary instruments. I have had many bands in the past. Yet now, I hire particular musicians depending on the studio recording and gig. I've recorded 9 albums here in Nashville. If the album was Country/Americana, I hire the top Country studio cats. If my album was more on the R&B/Soul feel, then I'd hire the musicians that play that genre. I produce all my albums. Yes, I studied the productions of my favorite producers and taught myself how to produce an album. That's a big subject, one of which you can follow on my blog: www.chakrableu.com/blog
Here are some of my favorite producers:
Owen Bradley (Brenda Lee; Loretta Lynn; Patsy Cline; Buddy Holly;Conway Twitty,etc)
Emory Gordon Jr. (Patty Lovelace; Steve Earle; Rodney Crowell; Emmylou Harris; John Denver)
Trevor Horn (Seal; Grace Jones; Barry Manilow; Paul McCartney; Pet Shop Boys; Tina Turner; Rod Stewart; Frankie Goes to Hollywood)
Hugh Padgham (Police; Phil Collins; XTC; Davie Bowie; Melissa Etheridge; Split Enz; etc.)
What is your favorite part about being an artist (performing, recording, writing, playing)?
I love CREATING, whether it is the step one: Writing the Song, Performing, and/or Producing. When I'm writing, I set a very disciplined goal of songs and/or melodies to write within 1-3 week period of time, twice a year. In this time, I do focus COMPLETELY on writing, whereby I do not do shows or engage in the business. I go into a very intuitive mode of listening for ideas and words and melodies. The melodies quietly prompt my Intuition about what the song wants to be about. Once that process is underway and the song is taking shape, I shift more into my left-brain mode to make precision decisions on phrases, rhyming, cadences, and so much more. I spend countless time on editing the verses, chorus, and such to make sure they flow and have something interesting to say. Is there emotional content to engage the listener?
I love performing as well. It's 180 degrees from the intuitive, quiet listening and intense editing of my writing sessions. Before I plan the show, I create the set list and decide the what songs, how many songs and what order. The first song needs to be up tempo, as well as the 2nd and 3rd. Then once I have the attention of the audience, I bring in two slower tempo songs that are may have more emotional content, songs that may feel more vulnerable in ones heart. I design the set like a Sine wave, to keep the the flow intense, engaging and fun. Performing means turning it 'All On' and being a conduit of joyful entertainment and a conduit of empowerment.
As a performing artist/writer/producer, my highest intention is to remind the folks of the Beauty and untapped Creative Power that's within each and every one of us. I do this energetically, through the vibe of the music and lyrics. Nope - the message is NOT preachy and far from it! Yet, those around my energy and music will definitely FEEL the uplifting Vibe. It's not me...it's me getting out of the way, so folks can FEEL the Light/Goodness/Love (whatever you want to call it) that's within their awesome Souls.
Producing is a blast and it is intense. The planning is immense. Choosing highly skilled engineer and musicians for the project in relation to the genre of the album brings about the most amazing results. On my website, the bio and various blogs go into depth about each of these phases, if you want to indulge:)
Do you have any advice for young women pursuing music? Please note that this information might be used on a separate inspirational section/advice column on the blog as well.
When I moved to Nashville many years ago, I hit the ground running. I threw myself into as many songwriter nights as possible and joined NSAI to work with the best songwriters, who critiqued my songs (this was not pleasant feeling sometimes. Lol). I read multiple books about songwriting so that I could understand the theory behind songwriting and chord structures that make up the patterns behind many songs and genres that are typical to rock, pop, country, R&B/Soul and Reggae.
I also educated myself on the Nashville Number system so that I could write charts for the musicians that would be playing with me on various shows. Although my major was in music, writing studio/live charts was not included in the curriculum. I constantly practiced my guitar and expected myself to improve my grooves for various genres. I taught myself bass, piano and mando which opened my songwriting up even more. I took vocal lessons from a reputable voice teacher in Nashville who had worked with top notch artists. I expected myself to improve all around!
For readers who have never heard your music, can you suggest one or two songs to start with?
It takes YEARS to shape yourself into a genuine original artist. Copycats are numerous. So try not to judge or compare yourself harshly to where the joy of creating and playing diminishes. 1. Do educate yourself about the skill of songwriting. 2. Learn to play an instrument so you can at least communicate better with your band members. 3. Play songwriters’ nights. (I know, they can be boring, yet getting yourself out there is important!) 4. Be true to YOUR feelings.
Tell us where fans can access your music. Provide 1 or 2 links here:
Tell us where fans can access your music.
For more information, please visit Chakra Bleu's website.
Connect with Chakra: