Chakra Bleu - 10 Questions Music Interview
Chart topping, Nashville artist, Chakra Bleu has been granted many awards throughout her career, including the “Arena Award." This award has been given to recipients such as Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire - it is granted to artists who have contributed an inspiring presence in their community. Chakra's music captures a fusion between genres such as Reggae, Americana, pop-rock and R&B. Her songs have been played across the US and Europe on Top 40, Country, A/C and AAA radio. Chakra has released nine albums to date. All of her albums have had enormous success with multiple singles charting on the Indie Top 40 and more. Chakra Bleu is one of the artists who will be featured on BWH Music Group’s On Peace Street, a compilation album featuring 19 songs about peace and social justice.
What is the name of the song you have on Peace Street?
"We Shall Overcome"
What is the inspiration behind your song? Or, what is the song about?
Music has the power to unite like minds and hearts. This song's purpose is to promote unification and awareness that will stir us into action, with the hope that a positive change can be made. May it help promote true equality and justice, for all races, for all genders, for immigrants, for all sexual identities, and for equal voting rights for all.
With this song I ask the listener to consider their own dignity and encourage the dignity of all others through peaceful measures. Although this song was first inspired by the Michael Brown (Ferguson) shooting, along with the many other shootings following that, the overall message of this song reaches out to the Humanity in us all. This song reaches to unite us all from the Heart. This song calls out to come together in our diversity, to rein in Dignity, Justice, Freedom and Equality, standing up against those individuals and groups that chose violence, lies, fear, intimidation, hate crimes, greed and social-economic injustice. I ask that we use this song for the sake of Unification. We are at a crucial time not only in the United States, yet in the whole world, whereby the Voice of the Heart, the Voice of Humanity needs to come together and stand behind the leaders who stand for Peace, Equality and Justice. May this song promote a fervor in our hearts to stand and work together for the good for all and our Mother Earth.
How did you write your featured song? Or, can you describe your songwriting process? I actually wrote the melody sixth months prior to adding the lyrics. I knew that the melody was going to be about a social conscious song. I have found it more productive in my songwriting process, to first concentrate fully on the melody followed then later by the lyrics. So when it was time to add the lyrics to the melody, I had rented a Air BnB in Brevard, NC, in the Pisgah mountains that really bring out a lot of inspiration through my Soul. I replayed the melody on my handheld cassette player, while looking out the window at the beautiful peaceful scenery. I then let a quiet overcome me, while asking myself, "What is this song about?" Soon the concept of the song came clearly to me, as well as lyrics spilling themselves in pieces like puzzles upon the yellow pad before me. The song was extremely emotional and covered a lot of territory into subjects of dignity, justice, freedom, equality to the tremendous injustices from those individuals and groups that have chosen violence, lies, fear, intimidation, hate crimes greed and social-economic and environmental injustice. Who are your major music influences?
Country: Emmylou Harris; Willie Nelson; Johnny Cash; Waylon Jennings; George Jones; Buck Owens; Loretta Lynn; Patsy Cline; Patti Lovelace; Mary Chapin Carpenter; Hank Williams Sr.; Lefty Frizzell; Glen Campbell; Merle Haggard; Lacy J. Dalton Rock/R&B/Blues Pretenders; Fleetwood Mac; Annie Lennox; Heart; David Byrne; Tom Petty; Boston; Eagles; REM; Bruce Springsteen; Journey; Melissa Etheridge; Aretha Franklin;Bonnie Raitt; Stevie Ray Vaughn; Eric Clapton; Ella Fitzgerald; Billie Holliday; Sara Vaughn; George Benson; Delbert McClinton; **I have also been influenced by Jazz & Swing artists (& sang jazz in HS/College) ...some favorites include the greats: Sinatra; Glenn Miller; Lena Horne; Jango Reinhardt; Allison Mose; Tony Bennett; Dave Brubeck; Zoot Sims; ; Wynton Marsalis; John Coltrane; Miles Davis; Nat King Cole Trio; Thelonious Monk; Larry Carlton; Artie Shaw; and many more World Music thrills my taste in music in that is brings fresh sounds of rhythms and modes, bringing about the vibrancy of a particular culture. Favorite Producers: Owen Bradley (Brenda Lee; Loretta Lynn; Patsy Cline; Buddy Holly;Conway Twitty,etc) Emory Gordon Jr. (Patty Lovelace; Steve Earle; Rodney Crowell; Emmylou Harris; John Denver)
Trevor Horn (Seal; Grace Jones; Barry Manilow; Paul McCartney; Pet Shop Boys; Tina Turner; Rod Stewart; Frankie Goes to Hollywood)
Hugh Padgham (Police; Phil Collins; XTC; Davie Bowie; Melissa Etheridge; Split Enz; etc.)
Scott Matthews (Etta James; Patti Labelle; Huey Lewis; Nick Lowe; Bonnie Raitt; teve Perry; Stevie Ray Vaughn; Eric Clapton; Elvis Costello; Roy Orbison; Pointer Sisters, etc.)
When you wrote this song, did you have a goal in mind? For example, were you trying to raise awareness about an issue that’s close to your heart?
Although this song was first inspired by the Michael Brown (Ferguson) shooting, along with the many other shootings following that, the overall message of this song reaches out to the Humanity in us all. This song reaches to unite us all from the Heart. This song calls out to come together in our diversity, to rein in Dignity, Justice, Freedom and Equality, standing up against those individuals and groups that chose violence, lies, fear, intimidation, hate crimes, greed and social-economic injustice.
I wrote this song for the sake of unification. I believe we are at a crucial time not only in the United States, yet in the whole world, whereby the Voice of the Heart, the Voice of Humanity needs to come together and stand behind the leaders who stand for Peace, Equality and Justice. I wrote this song to promote a fervour in our Hearts to stand and work together for the good for all and our Mother Earth.
How did you get started in music?
I started playing the guitar in the 1st grade and began songwriting in the seventh grade. I picked up the bass, piano and mando later on... I sang in Jazz Choir in high school as well as playing bass for jazz band. I majored in music at EWU, all the while playing country and rock bands in the Spokane, WA. Soon after graduating college, I moved to Nashville, so that I could improve my songwriting, producing and recording artist skills.
Below is part of an artist bio from Phil Sweetland (New York Times music columnist) The whole bio can be read on my website: www.chakrableu.com "Since she was a kid growing up in Spokane, Washington, she benefited from having an older brother with a varied record collection. She loved the music of artists like Fleetwood Mac, Boston, Daryl Hall/John Oats, Doobie Brothers,Tom Petty, Pretenders, REM, U2, Annie Lennox, David Byrne, and more. At an early age, spellbound by the roots country guys, as she and her parents watched country awards shows on TV and Opry legends like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, and Loretta Lynn intrigued her, but her favorite and greatest influence at that stage was Emmylou Harris. The Washington native loves performing her own songs at popular Nashville venues, such as The Bluebird Café; 3rd & Lindsley; The Basement; Douglas Corner; The Rutledge; and many more. Like so many who move here, she spent a few years trying to write strictly country. That produced several fine songs. Chakra’s heart wanted more and so did fans at her shows. “It’s what is now called Americana, before Americana was defined,” she says, smiling. “I finally got to the place where I just wrote and played for the joy of it. It’s important for me to honor what my fans want.”
Thanks to the growth of the Web, Chakra Bleu’s audience spans into Europe, Australia, and even as far away as Japan. “They’re really into Americana over there,” Bleu says of her fast-growing international audience. “It’s really refreshing. When the Internet came along, it allowed indie artists like me to take the reins and run.” Chakra Bleu has found that even in a co-writing town like Nashville, she does her best writing alone. Yet she has co-written with some of the Row’s best, including Kim Richey and John Foster. Bleu is also able to play a variety of instruments. Guitar is her primary instrument, but she also plays piano, bass, and mandolin, all which impact her writing. A key technique that enables her to create so many signature songs, are the songwriting retreats she takes twice each year. “In the fall I go to the Blue Ridge Mountains for 10 days and lock myself in a cabin. I take all my charts and a tape recorder. Then in the summer I go to Washington state for three weeks to write,” she tells us. Those two venues on two different coasts have been breeding grounds for dozens of Chakra Bleu album favorites. “I love writing in the majestic energy of the mountains, as well as at the other cabin retreat at the snow-fed mountain lake in the inland Northwest.” “I’ve found that the beautiful nature around me inspires countless lyrical ideas and melodies to bubble up effortlessly.” For Chakra Bleu, both of these rural retreats seem a million miles away from Nashville, but the material she crafts there rejuvenates her to do even bigger and better things every time she returns to Music Row, to radio, and the concert stage. “Playing and singing is just a real pleasure. On each and every one of my CDs, I include songs which have inspiring and empowering messages, songs that simply put are food for thought,” she says. Fans and radio both in the States and overseas will be loving a steady diet of Chakra Blue’s musical food for thought for a long, long time. "
Of all the songs you’ve written, what was the most challenging and why? "We Shall Overcome" was challenging because it grouped a lot of issues into one song. I desire for this song to be Far Reaching and All Inclusive. Narrowing down umpteenth concepts, emotions and topics all included in this one song took multiple edits and crunching down words. Another song that was extremely emotional and mind demanding is 'Children Of The Sun'. This song is on my newly released 9th album, 'Living Life Grand'. The story of this song speaks on behalf of all Native Americans...the broken promises/treaties; stolen lives; broken spirits from missionaries coercing religious beliefs, all the while suppressing ancestral culture; land hungry homesteaders and minors bullying their land away with big guns, backed by the federal governments cruel tactics to outmanuever the dignity of countless tribes. This song cries out STILL on behalf of the heartless tactics of corporations backed by the WH to steal away and pollute even more Sacred Land. The land was never theirs to take.
How do you think music help promote world peace and social justice? Do you have a favorite social justice song? Music has the power to unite like minds and hearts through awareness. What is awareness? An idiom is to 'raise one's consciousness, to increase one's understanding of one's own needs, behavior, attitudes, etc. Music has a way to bring a proposal of a suggestion to a listener; allowing the person to give consideration to the ideas conveyed by the lyrics. These ideas are further motivated through the melody and emotional content that is portrayed through the content therein. There is a 'vibe' that is offering the listener a path to engage upon. Music and art, therefore can be powerful tools of communication. This particular song's purpose is to promote unification and awareness that will stir us into action, with the hope that a positive change can be made. I believe it can help promote true equality and justice, for all races, for all genders, for immigrants, for all sexual identities, and for equal voting rights for all. My favorite social conscious song is by John Lennon: 'Imagine'
What’s coming up in the future? I will be promoting my ninth CD, 'Living Life Grand' and it's new single on Americana radio format, backed by the reputable Nashville radio promoter who has fronted many other singles on my previous albums. Meanwhile, I have literally three albums worth of material ready to hone down into detailed plans of action. I am an Americana artist, which allows me to write, record, produces and perform 'American Music' which includes Rock/Pop; Country; Soul and even Reggae. I say, "life's too short to play one genre!" LOL
Tell us where fans can access your music? CDBaby
We Shall Overcome by Chakra Bleu on Spotify