By: Claude Mills
Look who's all grown up now.
Little Cherine Anderson who most Jamaicans know as the precocious girl from the 'Dancehall Queen' movie from the early 90s is now a bonafide hottie with a smile that can melt the heart of any man. And, oh, she's a helluva singer as well.
You might have already heard her one-drop hit single, 'Good Love' which has been bombing local FM radio into submission like an Israeli air strike on civilian targets in Lebanon. The single, which is sunshiny with soul, got 'good love' from reggae and urban radio stations in Jamaica, the US, Canada, several European countries, as well as internet radio, translating into a lot of buzz about Cherine.
Cherine's main prerogative now is to define the boundaries on this yet-unexplored territory dubbed dancehall soul. But just what the heck is dancehall soul?
"It is a hybrid of reggae, harder dancehall, soul and R&B, where I can incorporating the grittiness of my past with the sweetness of the things I've been exposed to...the world is opening up to the possibilities of this hybrid sound, look at how Rihanna made it to the top of the charts," she told YardFlex.com.
She grew up listening to artistes such as Lauryn Hill, Chevelle Franklyn and of course Lady Saw. "I know what moves me. Chevelle taught me a lot in terms of getting my stuff tight, and making it you. I believe I have grown, when I listen to Tanya's 'Rebelution' which is great, I realize that sometimes you have to live and experience things in order to write about it and bring it across in your music," she told YardFlex.com.
She described her choice to get her degree as the "best decision she has ever made". She graduated with honors from the prestigious Middlebury College with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Music and a minor in Japanese Language and Literature. She also did successful internships at MTV Networks, Interscope and the Chris Blackwell owned Palm Pictures and Palm Records.
Then she devoted her full time to recording music. Although she stands at a mere five feet, three inches tall, don't underestimate this young girl. Her singular ability to marry hardcore topics with radio-friendly cuts such as dancehall-soca-flavoured 'Oochie Wally' shows that she will be on the forefront of the new female movement in reggae.
"You need more than just a pretty face to make it in this business, you have to wicked vocally and tough lyrically. I am not going to be any fly-by-night artiste, I plan to be around for a long time in this business," she said.
Her manager is Patrick Lindsay.
THE COLOUR ISSUE
Certain elements in the media landscape have been touting a new crop of girls such as Alaine, Tami Chynn, Jovi as the next big thing to come out of Jamaica. Concerned interests within the industry feel that there is a deliberate strategy to sideline dark-skinned women who don't have certain Caucasian features which might appeal to the US marketplace.
"I would be foolish to say that it (colour) did not play a part in the promotion and packaging of an artiste, but I cannot attribute the success of our music acts to what they look like. Just look at Shabba, he was a phenomenon in the urban market, when you turn on your TV and watch Saturday Night Live and they are making Shabba jokes, that is great because they only do that when you matter," she said.
Cherine has been working with industry giants such as David Norland (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Dallas Austin), JeekyMan (Lil Kim), as well as prominent Jamaican producers such as Steven "Lenky" Marsden (Sean Paul), Christopher Birch (Shaggy)., and she has forged a creative partnership with reggae legend Sly Dunbar who believes that Cherine "is the real deal".
"She is a truly strong vocalist on hard core reggae riddims with the ability and potential to surpass Jamaican audiences to reach the masses," he said.
Cherine is moving ahead with her career at warp speed, learning at each step of the way.
"A lot of good stuff happened this year, I was on Reggae Sumfest opening for Sly and Robbie, I did Reggae on the River, Sting Miami, and got a good review from the Miami Herald, it's been real good," she said..
She has completed between 12 and 16 tracks for her debut album.
"It is not just dancehall, there is a one-drop on it, I deal with real issue, socio-political commentaries. On one of my favourite songs, 'How We Living'. I give my take on Nannyville, striking a contrast between the community then and now. The album will have a Caribbean flavour," she said..
She has been working with producers like Lenky Marsden on a cut called 'Jealous', and she has done collaborations with Anthony B ('So Sexy'), and with Chuck Fender on 'Coming Over Tonight'. A video for the latter was shot by Kimala Bennett recently.
Cherine is an out-and-out triple threat: singer, songwriter and acclaimed Jamaican actress, having starred in two of Jamaica's most successful films, Dancehall Queen (1997) and One Love ((2003).
"I've got scripts but none of them are stretching me from 'One Love', so right now, it is just the music. I am committed to making good music. It may not be hot and hip, but it will stand the test of time, that's my benchmark for Cherine, everything else is an accessory," she said,
"We're working right now, not getting caught up in the debate about who is blowing up. I just want to make music that will stand the test of time," she said.
We hear you, girl. We hear you.
PAST ACHIEVEMENTS AND HISTORY
Born in Rockfort in East Kingston, Jamaica, her parents Derryck & Barbara Anderson kept Cherine and her two older sisters in Sunday school and any other church activity that would keep them off the unstable streets. It was in church that her musical talent was discovered. Cherine explains, "It wasn't so much the message in the church songs that appealed to me at first...it was the passion and strength of peoples' voices." At the age of 12, she became a touring member of Ashe Performing Arts Ensemble, one of the Caribbean's most successful performance companies, and received professional training in dance, music and theatre. In 2003, Cherine combined her two loves, singing and acting, starring in the film One Love. Her voice lent two heartfelt songs to the film's soundtrack, and her acting talent earned her the MTV2/Urbanworld Film Festival Award for best actress in a feature film.
Some Cherine Facts
* Cherine co-starred in the film Dancehall Queen playing the sexually molested teen daughter Tanya in 1997
* Cherine has written for Bootsy Collins and appears with Fat Joe on the song entitled "Soul Sister" on Bootsy's 2003 release Playing With Boosty
* Cherine's first release was a cover of Gloria Estefan's Party Time in 1998
* Cherine studied Japanese Language and Literature at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan
* Cherine has three songs which appear in the film One Love
* Cherine's official debut single "Good Love" (produced by Sly & Robbie) peaked at #2 on the South Florida reggae charts
* Cherine recorded with Wyclef Jean and Sting while she was still in high school