[JPL] Chanteuse embraces two worlds
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Sun Sep 16 13:09:59 EDT 2007
Chanteuse embraces two worlds
By Robert C. Young | Saturday, September 15, 2007 |
http://www.bostonherald.com | Music News
Maybe it was the Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Mario Lanza albums
Charmaine Clamor heard at home as a young girl. Or maybe it was the
traditional love songs of her native Philippines she sang as a child. Or
just maybe it was the American pop she belted out at weddings or along with
the karaoke machine.
Whatever it was, Filipino-American singer Clamor - who makes her Boston
debut tomorrow at the new Beehive in the South End - has turned her unique
cultural and musical upbringing into a jazz-meets-world music style she
³After my parents and I migrated to the United States, I embraced everything
about the culture of America,² Clamor said, ³its food and definitely its
That¹s obvious from how the Great American Songbook influences some of the
material on her new CD, ³Flippin¹ Out.² What¹s just as obvious is how the
singer proudly struts her Filipino roots.
³When I was creating the album, I wasn¹t very concerned about whether or not
I was staying in the jazz world,² said Clamor, who was raised five hours
north of Manila in the small town of Subic-Zambales before emigrating to
California in the early ¹90s.
³Flippin¹ Out,² the singer¹s third album, features Clamor¹s burnished
contralto on straight readings of several jazz tunes with occasional
Filipino lyrics. She also delivers a surprising cover of U2¹s ³With or
Without You,² supported by vocalist Tierney Sutton¹s trio.
But there¹s also the five-song ³Filipino Suite, in which Clamor digs into
the sweetly melodic torch songs and ballads known respectively as kundiman
The real attention-getter, though, is right at the top of the album: ³My
Funny Brown Pinay.²
Based on ³My Funny Valentine,² Clamor¹s lyrics are proud and unapologetic.
She sings it as a Pinay herself: a Filipina woman who grew up in a country
where white skin and pointy noses were considered the ideal.
Thus these lyrics: ³Take a look at my skin/It¹s brown/Take a look at my
nose/It¹s flat/I¹m singing for all of my sisters growing up/Thinking they
don¹t look right/¹Cause they ain¹t white/Scrubbing with papaya soap to make
it right/I think you¹re all out of sight.²
³(The song) is quite personal for me,² Clamor said. ³I¹ve been getting
e-mails from all over, not just from Filipino women, but from women in
general. The lyrics, especially to women of color, are inspiring to them.²
For Clamor, inspiration continues to come from both her native and adopted
³My hope with this album,² she said, ³is to fuse my pride in my birth
culture as a Filipino with my pride in being an American.²
Charmaine Clamor, at the Beehive, tomorrow. Call 617-423-0069.
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