An Interview With Grammy-Nominated Jazz Singer, Cheryl Barnes, Whose Latest Release, “Listen To This” is Fastly Growing at Radio!
Posted On 25 Nov 2014
Tag: Aretha Franklin, Barry White, Carmen Lundy, Cheryl Barnes, Clara Ward, Come In From The Cold, Come With Me, Count Basie, David West, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Gregory Porter, HMMA, Hollywood Music in Media Award, Joni Mitchell, Listen To This, Mike Sutton, Peggy Lee, Phillip Cabasso, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughn, Tina Turner, Tom Jones
Cheryl Barnes is a fresh and powerful new voice from the contemporary jazz scene. She recently released her full-length album Listen To This and is scoring airplay everywhere from KCRW in Los Angeles to WNVW (The Wave) in Cleveland. The album was produced by Rahn Coleman who has worked with legends such as Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Barry White, Ray Charles and Tom Jones. Barnes’ mystical soul-jazz ballad “Come With Me” is already receiving spins on more than 60 terrestrial and internet stations in the smooth jazz format.
Learn more about Cheryl in the following interview:
Can you remember the moment you fell in love with music? What about the moment that you wanted to be a musician?
I THINK MUSIC IS PART OF MY DNA. I WAS SURROUNDED BY MUSIC FROM THE MOMENT I WAS BROUGHT HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL. MY PARENTS LOVED ALL STYLES AND GENRES OF MUSIC FROM CLASSICAL TO POLKA TO JAZZ TO POP TO EASY LISTENING, ETC….. MY FATHER PLAYED THE RADIO OR HIS RECORD PLAYER OR HAD VARIETY SHOWS ON TELEVISION PRACTICALLY 24 HOURS A DAY. I RECALL AWAKENING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO THE BEAUTIFUL SOUND OF STRINGS COMING QUIETLY FROM THE RADIO WHICH LULLED ME BACK TO SLEEP AND, I’M SURE, STAYED WITH ME UNTIL THIS DAY.
BECOMING A MUSICIAN WAS AN UNCONSCIOUS CHOICE. FROM EARLY ON, I COULD BE OBSERVED SINGING ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, HUMMING OR CROONING SOME SONG FROM THE RADIO OR RECORD PLAYER OR TV. I NEVER CONSIDERED ANYTHING ELSE.
Did you grow up with jazz music? Who were/are some of your favorite jazz performers?
YES, I DID. MY PARENTS HAD AN EXTENSIVE COLLECTION OF ALBUMS OF THE GREATS OF JAZZ, VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL AND MY GRANDPARENTS OWNED A THEN WELL KNOWN JAZZ CLUB IN CLEVELAND. SO, THE TONE WAS SET.
OF COURSE, I LOVED AND REVERED ALL THE STALWARTS OF THE JAZZ WORLD FROM ELLA FITZGERALD TO PEGGY LEE TO SARAH VAUGHN TO DUKE ELLINGTON TO COUNT BASIE AND ONWARD. I ENJOY AND ADMIRE A WIDE RANGE OF CURRENT JAZZ ARTISTS
RANGING FROM SOME OF THE GREAT INSTRUMENTALISTS TO POWERFUL SINGERS LIKE CARMEN LUNDY AND GREGORY PORTER.
Tell me about your full-length album, Listen To This. What was it like putting this collection together? What was it like working with producer Rahn Coleman, who has worked with legends such as Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Barry White, Ray Charles and Tom Jones?
THIS CD CAME ABOUT ORGANICALLY IN THAT I CHOSE SONGS THAT I HAD ALREADY BEEN WANTING TO RECORD FOR SOME TIME AND LOVED AND CHOSE OTHERS WHICH WERE NEW TO ME WHICH TOUCHED/REACHED ME WITH GREAT LYRICS AND MUSIC. I WANTED TO RECORD A PROJECT OF MY WORK AT THIS STAGE IN MY MUSICAL AND ARTISTIC DEVELOPMENT.
WORKING WITH RAHN WAS A PROFOUND EXPERIENCE FOR ME BECAUSE HE WAS ABLE TO SHOW ME HOW TO BE A MORE OPEN AND EXPRESSIVE ARTIST AS WELL AS A MORE TECHNICALLY ADEPT ONE. HE IS RENOWNED FOR HIS EXPERTISE IN HIS KNOWLEDGE AND TREATMENT OF THE VOICE. HE KNOWS HOW TO GET THE VERY BEST PERFORMANCE FROM AN ARTIST AND IT WAS A DELIGHT TO WORK WITH HIM.
Your soul-jazz ballad “Come With Me” has recently been receiving plenty of recognition. Why do you it’s speaking to people? Is it one of your favorites?
I THINK IT’S BEEN SO WELL RECEIVED BECAUSE IT JUST FEELS GOOD….AND IT’S MEANT TO. IT’S POSITIVE AND IT REFLECTS MY SENSIBILITIES (OR AT LEAST MOST OF THE TIME-SMILE) LEANING TOWARD CAREFREE ESCAPE…EVEN IF IT’S JUST IN ONE’S MIND. I LIKED IT THE FIRST TIME I HEARD IT. WE HAVE TWO DIFFERENT ARRANGEMENTS OF THE SONG AND THE ONE WHICH MADE IT ONTO THE CD WAS THE SECOND ONE. I LOVE IT BECAUSE THE WHOLE FEEL IS LIKE TAKING A TRIP.
The video for “Come With Me” is full of iconic locations here in Southern California. Was that your idea? And if so, why?
OUR PROJECT CONSULTANT, MIKE SUTTON, SUGGESTED IN OUR PRELIMINARY TALKS ABOUT THE VIDEO, THAT SOME SCENES BE OUTSIDE. I AGREED WHOLEHEARTEDLY AND OUR VIDEOGRAPHER, DAVID WEST, LOVED THE IDEA AND EXPANDED IT TO THE WONDERFUL EXTREMES WHICH NOW MAKE THE VIDEO. WE EVEN ENCOUNTERED A RATTLESNAKE ON ONE OF THE SHOOTS.
What does it mean to you to be nominated for a “Hollywood Music in Media Award (HMMA)? Seems like it will be quite the event next month!
I’M CERTAINLY HAPPY ABOUT IT AND LOOKING FORWARD TO THE EVENT. WIN OR LOSE, IT IS AN HONOR TO BE NOMINATED.
Your jazzy rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Come In From The Cold” is about to make some noise at AAA radio. Why did you decide to cover this particular song?
RAHN PRESENTED ME WITH THE SONG. I, OF COURSE, LOVED THE LYRICS RIGHT AWAY, BUT I FAILED TO GRASP HOW THE ORIGINAL STYLE OF THE SONG WOULD FIT IN WITH MY STYLE…..WELL, RAHN ALREADY HAD A PLAN, AS CAN BE HEARD ON THE CD, AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT WHEN I HEARD IT. PART OF MY LOVE FOR THE SONG IS THAT MY HUSBAND, PHILLIP CABASSO, IS PLAYING THE PIANO ON THIS AND OTHER CUTS ON THIS CD.
I have read the following statement from you:
“I sing because I must. I am compelled from within, the force sometimes ebbing, often flowing, the rhythm of it all out of my hands. I follow where it leads; it is an essential part of my being.”
Can you elaborate on this a little further?
WOW! THAT SOUNDS A BIT BLUSTERY, DOESN’T IT?! IN SIMPLER TERMS, I FOLLOW WHERE MY MUSICAL SELF TAKES ME AT ANY GIVEN TIME. I STRIVE FOR AN OPEN HEART, COURAGE AND AN OPEN MIND WHEN I SING SO THAT WHAT COMES OUT IS AUTHENTIC. IT IS ME.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something funny that’s taken place with you (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere?
I HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING INVITED TO FILL IN ON A FEW PERFORMANCES FOR ONE OF THE LEAD SINGERS WITH THE WORLD-RENOWNED CLARA WARD SINGERS. I AM NOT A GOSPEL SINGER, BUT I WAS INVITED AND TOLD THAT MY VOICE AND STYLE WERE WANTED FOR THE OCCASION. THE PERFORMANCE WAS AT THE HOUSE OF BLUES IN HOLLYWOOD AND I RECEIVED A STANDING OVATION FROM THE AUDIENCE AND THE WARD SINGERS. I WAS DEEPLY HONORED TO BE INVITED AND ACCEPTED.
What is your favorite song of yours to perform?
THE SONG “LISTEN TO THIS”, THE TITLE OF THE CD, IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES. MY HUSBAND WROTE THE MUSIC AND LYRICS AND I AM AMUSED HOW HE GOT THE FLAVOR OF THE ‘GIRLS’ HANGIN’ OUT SCENARIO PRETTY CLOSE TO REALITY. IT’S DIFFICULT TO ISOLATE ANY ONE SONG. I REALLY DO GET A HUGE LIFT FROM SINGING ANY ONE OF THEM.
Living or dead, who would be your dream duet and why?
I CAN’T REALLY SAY. AFTER A NUMBER OF YEARS OF OCCASIONAL GROUP AND DUET SINGING, I PERSONALLY THINK THAT THAT IS NOT MY FORTE, SO I SHY AWAY FROM THAT.
Are there current jazz singers that you admire?
CARMEN LUNDY. I CAUGHT HER PERFORMANCE IN LOS ANGELES A FEW NIGHTS AGO AND THE MUSIC WAS ON FIRE. WHEW! TALK ABOUT EMOTIONALLY AND MUSICALLY ACCESSIBLE.
Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
I HOPE THAT MY MUSIC TOUCHES PEOPLE IN WAYS THAT MEAN SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO THEM. TO MOVE, TO SOOTHE, TO EXCITE, TO ENLIGHTEN, TO ENRAGE, TO AMUSE, TO HEAL.