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She Got Soul: Nathalie "Talie" Cerin part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I got the privilege to send Nathalie "Talie Ayiti" Cerin some questions that she answered for me. I asked too many questions and she answered in great detail to all of them... So I've decided not to take anything away and just post our little chat in 2 parts. I'm posting the first part today to also say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Talie. She's an awesome artist and a great person. I'm a huge fan!
This is the second installment of "She Got Soul: Haitian Women in Jazz" Check out Melanie JB Charles here. I first heard Talie on Ayiti Deploge which is Haiti's "unplugged" I loved her instantly and I made it a point to search for more of her music and life story. I'm glad I got to hear a little bit more about her and I want to share her answers with you. Read all of it... You'll love her too.

ALH: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are the basics of Nathalie and her music? How long have you been singing? Was music always your passion? Etc...
NC: My name is Nathalie, I go by Talie when singing and writing. I am from the beautiful island of Haiti. I currently live in Philadelphia where I am a graduate student studying multicultural education, and pursuing a career in singing. I've been singing my whole life. My parents tell me that I could sing before I could talk. As a baby, they would take me to church and I would sing along with the congregation during the hymns. 
I was blessed enough to be born in a very musical family. My mother is a talented musician she sings, plays the piano, guitar and accordion. My four siblings and I were her little choir when we were younger, and she would make us sing at church and family functions. Three of my sisters grew out of it and no longer wanted to sing. My brother and I, however, stuck to music all along. My brother now sings classical music.

ALH: As I was reading your blog, I noticed that you have a BA in music. I would like to know why you decided to go that route? What was your motivation?
NC: When I was applying to colleges, I did not have the intention of becoming a music major just because music did not seem like a "practical enough" major. But I made sure I only applied to schools that did have music programs just in case I did one day realize that that is what I wanted to do. College applications were so much pressure for me, I felt like my ultimate happiness in life was based on my decision of school and major. So I did a lot of soul searching. I looked at my uncles and mom who ignored their passion for music to be doctors, engineers, professors etc. And I realized I would regret it for the rest of my life if I did not pursue music in school. But as one of my favorite teachers once told me "A major is not a life sentence" ...I took that to heart. I decided to study music, and if being a musician did not work out, I could work in some other heartless field for The Man to pay Sallie Mae back.  

ALH: Do you consider yourself a Jazz singer? Do you classify your music at all? If yes, what advice do you have for young Haitian artists who want to sing/play Jazz music
NC: I like to call my music "Soul Kreyol" or "Creole Soul" ...whichever you prefer. My main advice to young Haitian artists is to never stop looking for inspiration. I've always said the complexities of Haitian life provide the perfect inspiration for an artist. Use your art to make sense of your current situation, to make yourself happy and only you, and hopefully it will in turn touch someone else. 

ALH: Where do you find inspiration for your music? How is your creative process like?
NC:My music, like I advised in the previous question, is my way of making sense of my life. I've lived half of my life in the United States and half of my life in Haiti, I am heavily influenced by both cultures, and often times growing up, that was a little confusing. I would go to the U.S. and be "Haitian"; I would go to Haiti and be "American". My music is a marriage of those two cultures, just like I am: a big Haitian American mixture. 
In terms of vocals, I lean towards the African American soul influence, Haitian artists don't tend to let loose in their ad libs like African Americans do. And my lyrics are in Kreyol, put those two elements together and you get Kreyol Soul.
As for my creative process, I'm a hot random mess. Melodies come to me all through out the day, and when they do I pull out my blackberry and record a voice note. The one day, I sit down and listen to my voice notes and finish the little bursts of inspiration that I recorded. Sometimes I'll get an idea for a song, but it won't become a full fledged song till a year later. It just kind of happens when it happens.

ALH: List your top 3 Haitian artists? Top 3 artists in general? and why?
NC: My top 3 Haitian artists would be:
 1. Belo 2. Emeline Michele and 3. Boulot Valcourt.
 I admire Belo's effortless combining of genres to form his own sound while still keeping it Haitian. His lyrics are always relevant and poetic, and the little rasp in his vioce just keeps things interesting. Emeline Michele is just the diva of all divas. She has set the bar so high for Haitian female singers. I love her from the beginning with songs like "A.K.I.K.O." and "La Chanson de Jocelyne' till now with "Ban'm Lajwa." Boulot Valcourt, I absolutely love. He is amazing live, and he composed the song "Fe Van Pou Mwen" (words by Syto Cave) which is my absolute favorite song in the world. (Emeline Michele has a version of that song on her "Reine de Coeur' album)
My 3 favorite artists in general would have to be: Lauryn Hill, Asa (Nigerian singer), and Belo.

Here she is singing at a  Ayiti Deploge session. Enjoy! I'll be posting my favorite song in the next post.
Part 2 along with contact information for miss Talie Ayiti  is coming soon. Stay tuned!

P.S. check out this post on her blog. I think it's worth reading

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