Tessanne Chin: “Music Is Something You Can’t Decide Not to Do, It’s Who You Are”

Tessanne_Chin_Interview_Miami_2014

Laurie Charles interviews Tessanne Chin for Crossfade (the music blog). Here are just a few excerpts:

From the moment Tessanne Chin grabbed the mic and sang her heart out to Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” on season five of The Voice, the singer sent shivers down spines and made millions of Americans (and Jamaicans) jump off their couches and stare in awe at the TV screen.

Chin may have gained international fame (and envy) working with Adam Levine and taking home a bronze mic that season, but the Jamaican reggae singer of English, Chinese, and Cherokee descent was an established artist in Jamrock way before she charmed the judges and blew away audiences with her killer pipes. [. . .]

Born into a family of musicians, Chin practically learned to sing before she could even talk. The singer grew up following her parents around rehearsals and watching them perform. Since then, it’s been a love affair with music. Now, The Voice champ is recording her debut album with Universal Music Group and getting ready for her solo gig at the 9 Mile Music Festival this Saturday at the Dade County Fairgrounds.

Coincidentally enough, we caught up with Chin on Bob Marley’s birthday, and spoke to her about being coached by the Sexiest Man Alive, growing up in Jamaica, learning when it’s time to move on, and paying homage to the reggae revolutionary.

 [. . . ] You come from a pretty diverse background. You were born in Jamaica and are of Chinese and Cherokee descent. You also lived in England for some time. How was it like growing up surrounded by all these different cultures?
What’s funny, the most predominate one [culture] is English because my grandmother is British, and having an English mom, I kinda adopted the traditions. But we were all brought up Jamaican and have these different ethnicities and cultures. Jamaica is actually a melting pot. There’s so many different cultures from Lebanese to Cuban to Indian, in that way, I never felt different. Nobody treated me different, never in a derogatory fashion.

We came upon some resistance, but it wasn’t a race issue, it was a class thing. In a way, my sister [who happens to be a well known singer in the island], she broke down those barriers. Her music is for everybody. That’s the way I see it. If anything, I felt different when I went to England. That’s where I kind of saw that I was different.

Your parents had their own band, The Carnations, your older sister is a singer, I guess you can say music was part of your upbringing?
I’m the baby of the family. I have five older sisters. One is in the beauty industry, my brother is into computer graphics, but all of us all are musical. My earliest memories, my parents had a band when they were younger and by the time I was born, they used perform at different gigs. I grew up going to those gigs. Music was always a part of my life. The first time I touched the mic was at one of the rehearsals. That’s when I knew I wanted to sing. Music chooses you. It’s something you can’t decide not to do, it’s who you are. Even if I was a mommy or a banker, I would still be a musician. It’s very much a part of my DNA. [. .. ]

For full interview, see http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/crossfade/2014/02/tessanne_chin_interview_miami_2014.php?page=2

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