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Filipina Jazz Singer wows listeners in the USA

Charmaine Clamor a Filipina American Jazz singer will be performing again at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood, California on May 22, 2007 at 8:30PM (for current and future shows/performances click HERE) as special guest of Michael Konik & His Tasty Band. She is the first Filipina American Jazz singer to break through the mainstream US radio with her album “Searching for Her Soul” heard in over 100 stations all over the USA. Her album peaked at #1 on the CMJ jazz charts in several markets.

While critics and disc jockeys have compared Charmaine's sultry alto voice to legendary vocalists like Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, and Cassandra Wilson, they also recognize her style and sound as distinctly her own.

What makes this Pinay standout is her down to earth attitude and perspective that is truly remarkable in recognizing the very essence of a Filipina as seen in her brief Bio:

A Pinay is a Filipina woman. I spent the first 16 years of my life in the Philippines, and I witnessed a syndrome that persists to this day. Filling our magazines and lining our country's major roadways are countless advertisements and billboards promoting whitening soaps and creams, with larger-than-life photos of European-featured mestizas and mestizos, idealized creatures with creamy skin and distinctly pointed noses. Even today, in the 21st century, my beautiful little brown nieces wear heavy long-sleeved shirts under the broiling sun for fear that they might become even darker -- which they equate with "uglier." Visiting them recently reminded me of my childhood, when I was called a negrita and teased for my flat nose. I recall desperate (and fruitless) attempts at bleaching my skin with papaya soap. I tried pinching my nose every night, hoping I would awake the next day to find it nice and pointy. (Take a look at my face: It didn't work!). As a lifelong fan of American jazz standards -- and as a tribute to America, where, for the first time in my life I learned to appreciate my unique attributes-- I've rewritten the lyrics to the classic Rodgers & Hart tune, "My Funny Valentine," while preserving its essential sentiments. I'm trying to communicate to all my dear Pinay sisters a sincere appreciation of their Indio beauty. I say with the utmost pride, "Stay?don't change your hair" -- or anything else. Because you are Filipina, and you are beautiful.

In 2005 world famous Catalina Bar & Grill Jazz Club saw the first Filipina performer headlining a sold out Filipino-American Jazz Festival. A longtime member of the renowned vocal harmony ensemble CRESCENDO, Charmaine is also the first Pinay to headline the world-famous Catalina Bar & Grill jazz club, in Hollywood, which presented Charmaine at their sold-out 2005 Filipino-American Jazz festival. In 2006, she headlined the Manila International Jazz Festival in her birth country, the Philippines.

Originally from the provincial town of Subic-Zambales, Charmaine Clamor and at age 3, is already showing signs of a promising performer singing to passengers at the back of buses traveling to Manila. It does not come as a surprise to see her in the Jazz scene growing up providing piano accompaniment to her mother singing kundiman (Filipino torch songs) and American classics. Her love for the classic standard songs came from her early exposure to the Great American Songbook.

She is one of the founding members of JazzPhil-USA, a non-profit organization that promotes Filipino-American jazz artist in the United States together with Bobbie Garcia, Evelyn Haddad, Elizabeth Reyes, Thelma Sugay and Tony Vizmonte. She is also in the board and president for the year 2006 – 2007.

Charmaine’s Sophomore CD “Flippin out” due to release officially on August 31st 2007 containing Filipino Kundiman (first time in US Jazz history sung in tagalog) songs featuring some of the top Filipino jazz artist in the US including Abe Lagrimas, Jr. (ukulele) & Julius Tolentino (alto sax), the renowned trio of Christian Jacob, Trey Henry & Ray Brinker (Tierney Sutton Band) , the indigenous Filipino instrument called Kulintang performed by the celebrated Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble and the Filipino Naxos Recording artist, Richard Ickard on guitar.

This is how she was described by Don Heckman of the Calendar section of Los Angeles Times last December 7, 2006 Classy Jazz, via the Philippines:

When Charmaine Clamor's warm, luscious contralto slips into a rhythmically seductive version of "I'm in the Mood for Love" or purrs through the tender lyrics of "The Very Thought of You," there's no doubt that a first-rate jazz talent is present. Her first album, "Searching for the Soul" (2005), announced the arrival of an impressive new vocal artist who worked her magic with material including Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday," Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love," Rodgers and Hart's "My Romance" and Gordon and Warren's "You'll Never Know."

What is surprising about her singing, with its very real sense of jazz authenticity, is the fact that Clamor is a Filipina, born in the provincial town of Subic-Zambales. Her first contact with anything remotely jazz-related came while she played piano to accompany her mother's vocalizing on kundiman (Filipino torch songs). It didn't take long, however, before she was on her way to becoming the first Filipina jazz singer with a recording heard on more than 100 radio stations across the U.S.

On Saturday and Sunday, Clamor will be one of the headliners in the second annual Filipino-American Jazz Festival at Catalina Bar & Grill. If jazz and the Philippines seem an unlikely combination, think again.

The music has built a considerable following in the islands since the post-World War II swing music days. And Clamor is among a growing number of Filipino jazz artists who have begun to attract international attention. Among those who will appear at the festival: keyboardist-composer Emil Mijares (known as the "grandfather of Philippine jazz"), singers Mon David and Sandra Viray, alto saxophonist Julius Tolentino and jazz ukulele player Abe Lagrimas.

Check out Charmaines' MySpace blog where you can listen to some of her songs such as “My Brown Pinay” her own version of My Funny Valentine and listen to the frank and honest lyrics. A self realization that shatters the stereotype of a conditioned mentality on aesthetics attributed to a colonial mindset. To check out current and future shows and event go to Charmaine's website. Continue reading on the latest update HERE.


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