Chandra Rule: The Destiny, The Voice
Interview By Kirk Anthony aka Mr. Critical
Kirk Walker: After seemingly relegating music to a “hobby” status and achieving success via your journalism degree & successful corporate career, what made you
pursue music as a career?
Chanda Rule: Sometimes you hear a voice inside, and you can’t ignore it. Music was that voice for me. Plus, I was starting to question whether I wanted to keep on with my career path for years and years… I knew there had to be more to life then office- home- and Blockbuster!
KW: How would you describe your musical style?
CR: It’s a reflection of me. I often say “my feet are rooted in gospel, my heart’s filled with soul, and my voice is touched with jazz”. I just wrapped it all up and called it Nu-jazz.
KW: Did your start in musical theatre lead to your interest and involvement in jazz music?
CR: Not really. It led me to songwriting. I kind of fell into jazz. I was singing background for Victor Jones, a jazz musician based in NY. He plays with all these jazz heads who’ve actually played with Miles, some of them Ella, and other great singers. So I learned from them, and eventually sang as lead vocalist with his band for about 4 years; and met lots of other jazz heads along the way who I still sing with.
KW: How did you get involved with composing music for dance companies & post-modern dance videos?
CR: There’s so much travel involved with Musical Theatre. I decided to take a year off of traveling and got this job at a Ballet school on the upper-East side. I met more musicians there who were creating music for the dance-scene and began to work with them as a singer. When word got out, some of the dancers and teachers there began to ask me to sing or write for their projects. I love working with dancers. It’s like seeing your sound and lyric in a moving picture, and expressed in ways you’d never imagine.
KW: How does your training as an interfaith minister and training as a dancer affect your music?
CR: First, I love to dance, but am not trained and you probably wouldn’t want to see it! Being an interfaith minister is awesome because it trains you to see past human differences and into the universal heart of mankind. It challenges me to write music that is inspiring and uplifting to all people.
KW: As a new artist at the time, how did you get to introduce your first album, Like | Water, via the live radio concert on New York’s WBAI radio station?
CR: I am a blessed girl! Really, it seems that whenever I follow my inner-voice, with no questions asked, doors open. And that’s what happened at WBAI. I was volunteering with a woman who used to work at WBAI. When she learned I was a singer, and had recently completed my first CD, she asked if I’d like to get it played on WBAI. So of course, I jumped at the opportunity!
KW: As an artist not making “popular” music (ex: hip-hop, R&B, pop, etc), how do you get your music noticed?
CR: Everything I’ve done has been pretty much word of mouth. It’s funny how the word spreads though!
KW: How did you get interested in so many different musical forms and how have they affected the music you make?
CR: I really just love music, and am intrigued by sound: like who thought of melding brass to create a horn? I love the way folks in cultures around the world express themselves musically, and I love the similarities in the sound of love songs, or laments or songs of praise. Right now my own traditions of African-American folk, jazz and gospel are reflected in my music, but I’ve been experimenting with other sounds from around the world. Stay tuned!
KW: How are you making your music transcend language, and break cultural and racial barriers?
CR: I think music naturally does this, with no extra effort at all. For instance, when I sing in non-English speaking countries, people hum and sway to the music and they get what a song is about without knowing each word I’m saying. Music makes people much more open and receptive. It’s wild that a person could practically ignore what you have to say in a normal setting, but in a song, they take it all in, and if you put the right rhythm to it, they’ll sing it all day long! I think sound is holy, for real. Saint Augustine said “to sing is to pray twice.”
KW: Which audiences do you consider more receptive to your music, international audiences or American audiences?
CR: Both. International audiences are amazing because they crave good music, and good Black music in particular. And since they don’t have an abundance of it, they pay good money to hear it! Audiences in the states also love good music, and are really receptive to folks that they think are different and talented.
I am blessed that there are some folks who think I fit those categories!
KW: Being born during the disco/funk era and having church and schoolgirl chorus lines as early musical influences, what led you to start your music career in musical theatre as opposed to disco or R&B?
CR: You know, I knew I wanted to sing, but I didn’t think I could do it. So I auditioned for theatre here in NY. Although I happen to think I’m a great actress, most folks only wanted to hear me sing, which led to musicals!
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