FAN FAVOURITE: “Everything is unfolding in a beautiful way.”
From the moment Cherine dashed onto the scene with 2006's sexy lovers’ anthem “Good Love,” she gave Jamaica a little jolt. And we’ve watched, transfixed, as the petite girly-girl with the big voice single-handedly fashioned a bold and unique sound with dancehall-soul, as she charted a course to the big leagues with her stash of hits, mesmerizing stage craft and impeccable fashion sense. But the life of a real artist only grows more complex and multi-layered with time. In Cherine’s case, we have witnessed a wonderful metamorphosis from fledgling dreamer to international solo star to her present incarnation as a spitfire Rockfort rebel.
And did I mention that the past year has been, arguably, the most fascinatingly productive of her still-blooming career as a recording artist and altruist? “People got to see all the different sides to Cherine this year, so it wasn’t all music,” she tells me, following a memorably acoustic set at the recent Manifesto JA Festival, on the grounds of the Edna Manley College. Stylishly attired, she seems to glow in the dark. “This year, I got to really dig deep in exploring my passions – and not just in my performances, but also in service.”
Playing her part as an upstanding member of society has always been something Cherine holds dear. This year alone, she lent her star power as spokesperson to a pair of worthy causes: the Yoplait-sponsored Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign (in October) and a new gender equality initiative conceived under the auspices of the United Nations, with which she’ll work closely until 2013. Then there’s the local-based Reach One Foundation, a mentorship outfit through which she sponsors kids on their way back to school.
If you ask Cherine about it, she’ll confide that charity and volunteerism allow her to contribute to saving the lives of women and children, while tapping into her family roots. “I’m from a family where the women made the decisions. It’s not that the men didn’t participate but the women were very strong,” says the Rockfort native. “My mother was extremely strong, and her mother, who raised 13 children, was also very strong. So things like determination and spirituality were very important.”
Those are two qualities that have served her well. In an industry often criticized for its dearth of opportunities for female musicians, Cherine, who has worked with everyone from Sly & Robbie to John Mayer, continues to thrive to the point where she now stands as one of the most important musical voices of the current Caribbean generation. As if to provide auxiliary evidence, her 2011 mixtape JA 9.25 (download yours here) continues to spawn hit after hit. A brand-new video for “How We Living” will premiere nationwide before year-end and will be followed by a trio of other single visuals. “It has taken on a life of its own that we never expected,” Cherine says of the mixtape. “We mainly wanted it to be a teaser for the upcoming album. But I think that once people get the album [it arrives next year], they’ll understand why the mixtape was out.”
Cherine, who buzzes with an infectious energy when she speaks, is terribly excited about 2012. For one thing, her impending body of work will let audiences, longtime fans and prospective converts experience a whole new measure of her brilliance, drive and determination. “In 2012, I’m hoping for a lot more opportunities to perform, not just locally but also abroad, with the band [the Rockfort Rebels],” she reveals. “One of my biggest concerns this year was putting together the band. We have about two more slots left to fill but I know that everything will eventually fall into place.”
If there’s one unexplored aspect of life that Cherine is willing to let play out on its own time it’s starting a family. Consumed as she is with her hot career and new heights to conquer, the happily single singer tells TALLAWAH she is a patient woman when it comes to the game of love. “I think when I find the right man, and we decide to have a baby, that’s what we’ll do,” she says of motherhood. “The pressure and expectations that come with it is something I’m scared of right now,” she adds, laughing her adorable little laugh. As the 27-year-old rightly explains, you can’t – and shouldn’t – hurry love. “I guess you will know when it’s right. It’s just like how you can’t tell a man when to marry you. He will know when it’s the right time,” she says. “It’s [also] like music; everything is a progression, and when you get to that point where you feel to do it, you do it. So when I get to that point, the whole issue of motherhood won’t even be a question.”
For now, Cherine, full of charm and ever bursting with garrulous fervour, is quite content in her rewarding relationship with a fellow named Music. By all appearances, he’s a keeper in her lyrical book. “I’m just excited about the body of work that’s going to come out next. I’m excited about working and touring with the band. I’m a workaholic, so we are always trying new things,” she shares. “Everything is unfolding in a really beautiful way, and I’m just really grateful that I get to do it.”
NEXT TIME: Cherine riffs on staying focused and preparing for her next chapter
(Cover photography: Jasmin Kuhn)