The Soundcheck Series has officially kicked off and I’m happy to bring you the first “behind the music” interview featuring emerging artist, Chartel and her mentor Chris Stevens of Vertical Current. Chartel will grace the Soundcheck stage at Pub Webb Live on June 9th and, just like last week, you can catch me there hosting and interviewing.
Anywho, let’s go behind the music and get a glimpse into the story of Chartel’s growth and development…
About Chris Stevens: At the age of 32, Christopher Stevens has had a lifetime's worth of career experiences including extensive travel and working with Grammy Award winning artists such as Tye Tribbett and The Roots. Chris is a native of Camden New Jersey and a Temple University graduate who has been in the music business since his teenage years. An accomplished performer and arranger, Chris has credits on several dozen recordings, including Jazmine Sullivan's latest album "Reality Show" and Faith Evans' "Incomparable". When he is not in the studio, Chris can likely be found on a stage leading his band Vertical Current or touring with the likes of Eric Roberson and John Legend.
1) How did you first meet Chartel and what was your first impression?
I first met Chartel in the hallways of Temple University. My first impression was shock, awe, and laughter! I don’t remember what she was doing exactly. I just remember her being funny and energetic.
2) What makes Chartel different in today’s music market?
It’s her! As she is discovering more of herself and being less afraid to be honest and transparent in her music, Chartel’s unique style and personality will always set her apart. Additionally, I think it’s her willingness to take risk and follow her intuition which is informed by various musical and personal experiences. Side note, I was at her senior recital, before we were really even friends and I was blown away. I carry that memory with me and it gives me great hope for what is yet to be revealed in Chartel.
3) What is your most memorable “Chartel moment”?
One of them would definitely have to go back to my side note from question 2. Also, the last few years we’ve spent a lot of time rehearsing, probably more than anything else really. I remember how when she went back to school and we were in rehearsal she would look up from her studies to finally sing her song, and after a long day she would hop up and go home. The thing is though that she came back and did it again for weeks on end and she was usually smiling! Not exactly a moment, but it showed me that she was serious and that she has what it takes to make it!
4) In a perfect world, where should Chartel be in 5 years?
In between world tours, lying on her private island with her loving husband, whoever he be. That is of course, after the brothers and I screen him! (Watch out—don’t mess with our sis).
About Chartel: Along with diverse musical influences, it is vulnerability, charm, and charisma that permeate Chartel's live performances and leave the listener begging for more. She describes her sound and writing as "Pop-Soul". It defies some of the traditionally expected elements of current mainstream music, but remains highly palatable to the masses through its soul-stirring delivery and universal subject matters. Chartel recently released her first single,"Make Up Your Mind To Love" from her forthcoming debut EP. She was also named the 2014 "Best R&B Pop Artist" by the Philly Hip Hop Awards. A classically-trained singer, Chartel has opened for artists such as Aaron Camper, Syleena Johnson of R&B Divas, and gospel music icon, Deon Kipping.
1) What makes a great artist mentor?
A great artist mentor has the ability to see you exactly where you are and has an idea of where you could go with the right balance of preparation and opportunity. They have the ability to help you maximize all of your strengths and they give you tools to improve upon and adapt in areas in weakness. They see your greatest potential, even on your worst days.
2) What is the best advice Chris has given you?
Chris usually responds to my doubts with the phrase “can’t hurt.” It usually means that there is no harm that can come from making an attempt to do something. He has always advised me to confront my fears and to trust the gifts that are within me. In a lot of ways he has led by example. In one instance, I was waiting to work on one particular project until I had all of the funds that I thought were necessary, and he showed me how it could be done, even with limited resources. He has also taught me to truly own my unique character traits and bring them to the stage with me.
2) What is the greatest success your mentor has helped you achieve?
I have had the opportunity to share the stage with well-known and respected artists such as Robert Glasper and Eric Roberson, just because of Chris believing in me enough to bring me along with his band, Vertical Current, both in the studio and on stage.
4) In what area(s) has your mentor helped you grow the most?
I would say that Chris has helped me to become more persistent and to act on my faith. He does not make excuses when it comes to learning, rehearsing and performing music, nor with regards to any of the business that surrounds being an artist. He will stay in a rehearsal all night, if necessary, to ensure that a performance goes off smoothly. When something needs to be done, he doesn’t wait for “perfect timing,” until he feels more “qualified” to handle a situation, or for someone else to take the responsibility from him. He simply acts, with whatever resources are available to him, trusting that God honors his faith.
5) What advice would you give to an artist seeking career guidance?
A lot of people have opinions about what an artist is and what an artist should be doing. A lot of those same people do have experiences in the music business. But above all, I would suggest that an artist who is seeking career guidance find someone who practices exactly what they are preaching to others, in their own lives. If you’re looking for someone to reinforce discipline and consistency in your life, and to push and encourage you on your lowest days, make sure that they are successfully walking with that same integrity in their own life. To me, that is what qualifies someone to mentor another.
About The Soundcheck Series: This event is an unforgettable concert experience and one-of-a-kind industry event presented by Pier Entertainment. The series highlights eight dynamic artists over eight weeks, and showcases a multi-genre collection of young, buzzworthy acts. Each exciting installment features prominent music professionals, ranging from label execs to songwriters and media personalities, all of whom have etched their marks on Philadelphia’s brilliant music legacy. Hosted at one of Philadelphia’s newest concert venues—Pub Webb Live—the intimate music event provides a unique opportunity for media, fans and insiders to discover the area’s best talent in an electrifying atmosphere charged by great energy, professional production and state-of-the-art sound.