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Take Five With Charmaine Clamor

AAJ Staff By
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Meet Charmaine Clamor: The creator of Jazzipino, Charmaine Clamor is America's foremost Filipina jazz and world vocalist. With two consecutive albums in the JazzWeek World Music Top-10, Charmaine has been credited with introducing Filipino languages, melodies, and musical instruments to listeners around the globe. She records internationally for Viva Records and in the United States for FreeHam Records. In 2009, she was given a special FAMAS Award ("Filipino Oscar") as Philippines Best Jazz Singer.

Instrument(s): Vocals.

Teachers and/or influences? Shirley Horn, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Kurt Elling, Tierney Sutton, Linda Hopkins, Barbara Morrison, Mon David, and Michelle Weir.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I began singing in the back of buses traveling from my provincial hometown to the capital city of Manila—at age three!

Your sound and approach to music: Tell a story and tell the truth.

Your teaching approach: Discover your authentic voice and what you want to say with it. Be yourself.

Your dream band: I'm blessed to work with some of the finest musicians in the world here in Los Angeles. But if Laurence Hobgood, Christian McBride, and Eric Harland wanted to play for the door, we could probably make room for them!

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Late set on a wintry Sunday night in Times Square, at the Iridium Jazz Club: I came onstage, and although the lights limited my vision, I could clearly see sitting in the second row center, directly in line with my microphone stand, Mr. Andy Bey. But I kept singing anyway.

Favorite venue: Catalina Bar & Grill, in Hollywood, is my home away from home. They were the first major club to give me a break, and I consider the entire staff there my extended family.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Whatever I'm listening to this morning. There is so much sonic beauty in this world, and I'll never get to hear it all.

The first Jazz album I bought was: Miles Davis: Kind of Blue.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I'm trying to set an example: The best way—the only way—to succeed in the arts, in life, is to know who you are and what you want to say. The rest comes naturally.

Did you know... As an immigrant girl who did not arrive in the USA until her teen years, I graduated as valedictorian of my high school class in Los Angeles and went on to earn a Master Degree in Physical Therapy.

CDs you are listening to now: Laurence Hobgood, When the Heart Dances; Christian Jacob Trio, Styne & Myne; Kurt Elling, Dedicated to You; Mon David, Coming True; Eydie Gorme & Los Panchos, Bolero!.

Desert Island picks: I'd have to smuggle in my iPod with at least 4,000 tracks or so...

How would you describe the state of jazz today? As bountiful and fertile as any time in history. The quantity and quality of the music being made is astonishing. No one needs to worry about "keeping jazz alive." It is quite healthy. It is our popular culture that we need to worry about! We just need to get people hip.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Cultivating audiences with ears, attention spans, and intelligence.

What is in the near future? Later in 2009, I go into the studio to record my newest album, my fourth in America. I return to Asia to support my new Jazzipino release in Manila. And, in 2010, I am thrilled to be part of a collaboration with a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

By Day: No day is long enough to allow me to do everything I want. Nor are the nights.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: Physical Therapist, making people feel better and creating art through science.

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