Chrisette Michele stays true to roots

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 03, 2014    

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THE opening lines from American singer Chrisette Michele set the tone for her performance at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in Trelawny

on Friday night.

It gave an indication of the New York-born artiste's Jamaican roots.

"Wha' a gwaan Jamaica!" she belted out in an authentic Jamaican accent.

The singer, who is on her fourth visit to the island, later revealed that she has Jamaican relatives some of whom were in the audience.

Speaking to the Observer post performance, Michele explained that her grandmother is Jamaican. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York on not only Jamaican principles but the island's food and culture.

"One of the things we ate a lot of was patties and coco bread," the 25-year old artiste joked. "The only thing is, that as kids we added mozzarella cheese to make the flavour more of our own, " she added.

Her Jamaican roots have also influenced her musically.

"When I saw the work of the Marleys, and when he [Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley] did that collaboration with Nas, I was like 'woah...that is great, that's the face of my culture'," she recalled. "So I cut my hair and went natural. Jamaica was also with me on the day I signed my record deal with Def Jam. That day I wore a Bob Marley jacket, and it worked."

Of her 'Jazz' performance, Michele was pleased, noting that she was nervous but not for long.

"I love performing outside. At first

I began singing to the stars but the audience soon warmed up to me. I knew I had them once they started laughing at my jokes."

The Grammy Award-winner (check) says self-empowerment is a central theme of her music.

"There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There are so many persons going through various things in their life so I want to create that positive for them," she said.





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