Category: In The Spotlight Created on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 08:26
Editor-in-Chief's Note: The following feature on talented vocalist, Tina Simone, is being republished with both the permissions of the author, and also from the wonderful team over at Fire Fly Productions Jamaica.
In this installment of Soul Sounds we have the lovely and talented Tina Simone, singer, songwriter and, poet. The thing I like most about Ms. Simone is how frank and herself she is at all times, she never shys away from a question, and always leads with an honest answer; she puts a great deal of who she is into her art, and it shows. Tina seems to be most at home when holding a mic and letting her powerful soul soaked vocals fill the air but, is always at home wherever she finds herself whether on stage, in a large auditorium or in quiet room for a one on one interview. This interview is pretty tame but you should have been there for the last one, now that was an interview worthy of editing.
Most performers have stage names and persona’s to match, yet you don’t, why is that?
“My name matches me perfectly it has a melodic ring and easy to say, sunshine and energy in the name and that’s me.”
So what about persona, do you have a stage persona or are you Tina Simone all the time?
“Firstly, my name is Tina Simone Mowatt and I am me all the time. I think what I have to offer is part of my personality as well as the gifts I have no need for a performing personality.”
So talk to me about your journey into music, firstly how long have you been doing music, and how long on a professional level?
“Born into music, my father was a musician and my grandfather is a musician as well, both were jazz musicians, trap set and double bass respectively. My mother is an avid music lover, playing LPs every Sunday and having “sound clash” with a neighbor in Harbour View where I grew up; I’ve always been in church choirs from early childhood to early adulthood. At the University of theWest IndiesI was a member of the University Chorale then was later asked to join the University Singers. At that level I guess I was semi professional but not as a soloist, as part of the group.”
“I launched a solo career in December 2008, putting on a recital with my good friend Charles Moore, “Love at Christmas” was the name of the show and proceeds went to the Cancer society; it was well reviewed by Michael Reckord of the Gleaner. Since then I moved from the classical and theatre singing to contemporary but it was not until Feb this that I left the 9 -5 world to embrace music full time.”
So you were a part of U.W.I. Singers for a while, what was it like to move from a group setting where the attention and indeed the success of the show wasn’t resting solely on your shoulders to going it solo where it’s all on you?
“It was…..anxiety provoking! I am coming from being deathly afraid of singing solo, then I got accustomed to singing solo in a group setting and NOW all by myself! I learnt many things about myself however:
1. I was not performing, but concentrating on notes and technique, “Tina Simone” was not fully present in the offering.
2. I no longer had a director to tell me how to interpret the music and how to sing, I had to internalize and connect myself and be the director instead.
3. I learnt most importantly that I CAN DO IT! You know, never knowing until you do it, I just love the Nike Air Brand Logo – “Just Do It!” (laughs).
4. The responsibility of making the show a success is also a big responsibility but one I can handle. My confidence grows more and more each time I perform and lastly after venturing out on my own I realized this is what I was born to do, it makes me incredibly happy.”
And the switch from classical to contemporary what was that like and why?
“Technically, the way how one sings classical music is different from contemporary. It was an adjustment for me. I told myself in order to switch “sing wrong” (laughs) then practice makes perfect. Mind you, I still hear the tendencies to sound a bit classical in how I pronounce my vowels for example but I figure this is just a part of my personal style.”
So you decided this year to shuck off the trappings of the 9-5 to do music full time, was there any fear and doubt?
“But of course! I wrote the resignation letter months before I handed it in, I consulted with my creator and I figured I will just know when it was the right time to do it. The only fear was financial and I mentally left long before I officially quit. There are no monthly cheques coming in, and I basically have to start from scratch but thank goodness I have a loving family who supports my choices and came to my rescue.”
What were you doing before you answered the call?
“I answered the call long before I quit, for me answering the call is a process not instantaneous. I was in retail operations before.”
Your also a poet, when and why did you start writing poetry?
“Why, why does anyone? Inspiration, get inspired, write for five minutes it’s out, then continue what I was doing before. Inspiration comes in many different ways, from waking up and seeing the sunlight to even hearing a neighboring couple quarrelling (laughs).” You just move when it grabs you, and then be stunned by the results.”
As someone with two modes of expression which one is the most comfortable for you?
“Singing simply because I have done it more often, I guess i need to do more poetry the (laughs). Out with comfort zones!”
Is there an album or a collection of poetry in the works?
“Yup! Recording, recording, recording, that’s where I am at. The songs are written but have not found the right producer yet. I have been co -producing some singles that are to e released soon. Right now my team is the most important thing. Finding the right persons from the start makes an easier ride along the way, but yes I do have enough material for an album.”
It’s a learning process right. Do you enjoy the process?
“Yes I love learning, I listen, I ask questions of the veterans, the jus buss, the bus fi a while, and the newbie’s like me; all areas of music, performers, musicians, sound and lighting people producers, managers etc.”
How did you hook up with Firefly Productions?
“My cousin Janene Hibbert, a good friend of Antoinette’s; Jan gave her my tracks and bio and now I’m on the show, networking is key.”
Indeed, so how do you feel about Firefly’s mission to bring underground art and artists to the fore?
“Misfortune brings fortune in another package. Artists and Artistes (so to speak) who are emerging are not getting the support and funding as before; more and more we have to look outside our country for opportunities and thankfully the internet provides that avenue. Firefly has emerged from the unfulfilled need of the emerging greats; the platform provided is definitely mutually beneficial. The imagery of the firefly is great, a light in the darkness freedom to roam, beautiful but if restricted, the light will go out”
Well said on both counts, we should get you to advertise for us.
Tee hee, want a jingle, sure!
I’d like to thank you for doing this again (long story).
No problem, jus try yuh bess and store it praperly!
(Okay not so long after all)
Listen and be amazed.
Tina Simone's debut show "Metamorphosis" will be coming to Kingston, Jamaica, on December 8th, 2011.
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