Recently, Grown Folks Music had the opportunity to chat with London based soul singer Nadine Charles. Nadine is currently promoting her EP Introducing Miss Charles , you can check out a review of the project here.

Nadine Charles is definitely an artist to keep on your radar screen, her sound is at once familiar and yet unique. The familiarity comes from the fact that you can hear that she respects music through the purity of her vocal tone production. Her sound is unique because she is creating her personal musical narrative on her own terms. Now, the interview…

[GFM] Could you share with us a little bit about the concept behind the EP Introducing Miss Charles?

[NC] Well I’ve spent the last few years working with other people on their projects (and really enjoyed it by the way) but felt it was time to let people really know what I’m about. So I decided to introduce myself independently of everything else I’ve been involved in.

[GFM] I know songs can be like children, but are there any personal favorites of yours on the EP?

[NC] Yeah, you’re right. They are like children so it’s hard to say you love one child more than the other without feeling guilty! BUT saying that I really do like ” You Are The One”, “Cry Baby” , ”Journey” and ”Special”…but they’re all personal and relevant to me. You are the one, I like the arrangement and general feel of the song. But lyrically CryBaby, Journey, Special do it for me.”Crybaby” was quite an emotional song for me to write, but very theraputic and it was the best way for me to let the person who kinda made me feel like that know how I felt. Special came to me one day when I was feeling really low, which is probably why it’s a special song (no pun intended) to me. I was sitting on my sofa feeling a bit depressed about a situation, then thought to myself, I have God in my life and I’m blessed and ended up writing that song. So it makes me smile that I was feeling so bad and ended up feeling really good about myself. “Journey” is about my personal journey…which I’m still on, to find innerpeace. We rely so much on others for happiness, and then get let down. If we are content within ourselves, I think it would be harder to be hurt and let down by other people. I’m a work in progress…

[GFM] How has your West London upbringing influenced the music that you listen to and the music that you create?

[NC] I was going to say my ” West London” upbringing didn’t influence me…but it must have to some extent. London is a melting pot so I’m surrounded by different ethnicities etc. which has made me open to a lot of things. I listened to a lot of different types of music growing up, some influenced by the people around me.

But the biggest musical influences came from what my parents exposed me to. So I was listening to pop etc with my friends, but at home I was hearing, Curtis Mayfield, Minnie Ripperton, Bob Marley, Third World, Shirley Brown, Al Green , the list goes on.

[GFM] Is it modeling or music or modeling and music? Also, could you elaborate on what it means to you to be a multi-faceted artist?

[NC] It’s music and me! I never wake up in the morning and think, gee I would love to take some pictures today. But I wake up everyday thinking about music and get up extra early when I know I’m going to record. Music is definitely my passion. Modeling on the other hand is one of those things which I have ‘fallen into’. I enjoy it when I’m doing it and have developed a lot, but if I have the choice between a music session and a photoshoot, there’s no competition whatsoever. I think it’s important though to be multi-faceted because I believe we are all probably capable of more than we are even aware of and shouldn’t limit ourselves. But on the otherhand, we should be realistic and realise our strengths. I am a much better singer than a model and I’m also not that tall so I concentrate on my music and at the same time make the most out of my modeling.

[GFM] In an era where it would be very easy for an artist to rely on everything but music to forge a career, what inspires you to make your music on your own terms?

[NC] It’s because I have a genuine affection for music. I love it and respect it, therefore I put it first. I know in life we have to compromise, especially in this industry. I didn’t set out to do backing vocals for anyone as, you know, when you’re young you just want to go for the direct goal, but sometimes you have to compromise to get there. So I did backing vocals which made me a stronger solo vocalist. But I made a point of compromising my plan without compromising myself. And now I would encourage any singer to do backing vocals and I will still do it alongside whatever else I’m doing. However, I do say no to lot of stuff. I get a lot of proposals, but most of them are a lot of short cuts to get in the limelight, but it’s whether I want to be seen in that light… I’m not fame hungry, hence my refusal to do shows such as Xfactor which I think is a great concept, but just not for me. I just want to make good music and make it available to those who want to hear it, hoping “those” will be a lot of people I graduated from university and had a good job which I sacrificed for my love of music, so sticking to my terms is important otherwise I would be doing myself a disservice.

[GFM] Talk a little bit about your approach to songwriting: Is your approach to your subject matter mainly autobiographical or are you more comfortable relaying the experiences of others?

[NC] My songs are both really. I write about things I have experienced and sometimes of those around me.

It comes naturally for me to do it this way. Sometimes I don’t realise what I’ve written till I listen back. Then I think Jeeze I just described that situation I went through last year or realise I’ve just penned what I’m feeling at that moment. It does leave me quite exposed at times though and because I’m a terrible liar, when people say for instance…so ” are you a crybaby then ?” I have to just admit, “yeah, that’s me”!

[GFM] What are some of your thoughts on the myriad of social media applications available to artists? How have these applications affected the way you do business?

[NC] I think it’s great that we have so many options to get our music out there. As an independent artist, I’ve been able to reach many people across the pond thanks to all the Social media apps.

When I visited Atlanta for the International Soul Music Summit in September, I was able to actually meet lots of people who were aware of my music and playing it in different states of America because they found me on Myspace or Facebook. Years ago someone like me would have probably struggled more to self-promote.

Nadine Charles smiling[GFM] Is there a character from a book, movie, or TV show that accurately depicts the sound of a Nadine Charles vocal?

[NC] This is probably the hardest question you’ve asked me. I would probably say a mixture of the Little Mermaid and Pocahontas! They are both quite free spirited, with strong minds and very emotive. I think that kinda sums me up.

[GFM] A perfect day in music for Nadine would begin and end like?

[NC] I had one of those the other day… I went to the studio and heard a track that jumped at me straight away. The lyrics just flowed effortlessly and I was able to convey my emotions vocally. A perfect day I think I smiled all the way home…and it was a long drive! I went home exhausted but feeling accomplished.

[GFM] Any words of advice that you may have for any aspiring artists out there who are looking to forge a career in music?

[NC] I would say, only do this if you are serious about it because there are a lot of ups and downs. So you have to really love it to put up with what you’re gonna have to go through. Saying that the highs are soooo high so don’t be discouraged by the inevitable lows if your passion is music. And please master your craft, study it and don’t take it for granted that you don’t have to practice. If Whitney and Mariah practice, you should too. You can only get better! And I’m going to steal a line from my singing teacher, TC Curtis, ” Make each performance better than the last.”

[GFM] What’s on the horizon next for Nadine Charles?

[NC] I have a few projects in the pipeline, some collaborations and more solo material that I’m working on. I’m also going to be shooting a video early next year, so I’m still deciding on the song, so suggestins are very welcome. Oh, and more modeling. I have some work being published in Disorder Magazine very soon and I’ll start doing more shoots next year.

[GFM] What does the phrase “Grown Folks Music” mean to you?

[NC] To me it means Music that is respected and credible. As much as I like appealing to teens I like the fact that my music can be appreciated by “grown folks” too because they can probably relate to my life experiences and style of music.

We’d like to thank Nadine for taking some time out of her busy schedule to speak with us and encourage you to support and pick up her music here. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and catch her on MySpace as well.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.