Chanté Moore sings what she believes
Since the release of her 1992 debut, "Precious," Chanté Moore has been an R&B diva in the U.S. and in Europe. She has outlasted many female artists of the 90s amassing five albums and Top 20 hit singles ("Chanté’s Got A Man," "Love’s Taken Over," "It’s Alright," "Old School Lovin’") over the past 18 years.
Chanté (which means appropriately sing in French) has also contributed to four soundtrack albums, including "Waiting to Exhale," "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" and "Romeo Must Die." Combining her gospel roots with a soulful R&B and Jazz mix, Moore has been one of the few female songwriters/singers who puts her life out there in her lyrics.
Her biopic is in her music; the highs and lows, the loves and losses, and the faith to carry on. Prior to her upcoming return to her hometown of San Francisco to perform at Yoshi’s Jazz Club (July 5), I visited with the Los Angeles-based songstress, and she set a few things straight about her musical background, expressed her wonderful experience working with Whitney Houston, explained how staying true to life is expressed in her music, and talked about the next chapter in her life after divorce.
BeBe: I’m sure most people who are big fans and follow you know this, but your singing started in the church being that your dad is a minister. But I’ve read that some of your influences were George Duke and Lee Ritenour, who are jazz oriented musicians. How did that come about?
Chanté Moore: I don’t know where you got that piece of information. I heard that said yesterday, also. They (Duke and Ritenour) weren’t so much influences, (but) what I did was take instrumentals from Lee Ritenour and George Duke when I was a young girl and write songs to them. My influences vocally were Tramaine Hawkins and Andre Crouch (legendary gospel singers). My mother was also a singer and major influence. Everyone in my family actually was really good at singing. They didn’t think I could sing that well, but I did sing in the choir at church.
BeBe: Wait a minute! Back up, back up. They said you couldn’t sing that well?
Chanté Moore: Yeah, they said ’hush Chanté, just stand there and look cute.’
BeBe: Oh no, I can’t believe that!
Chanté Moore: It’s true, it’s true!
BeBe: Well, hush THEIR mouths, okay!
Chanté Moore: I definitely make them eat their words (laughs).
BeBe: Let’s talk a little about your voice, because there are very few female artists out there, now or in the past, I can name with the vocal range that you have. Your vocal range can be compared to, of course, Minnie Ripperton ("Loving You"). Deniece Williams ("Free," "Let’s Here It For The Boy") comes to mind, and Mariah Carey. Those women are some of the few that have a four or more octave range, power, and melodic softness at the same time. So with you doing a lot of ballads, do you tend to think that your voice and its range is more suited for the ballads rather than the uptempo stuff?
Chanté Moore: Well, I definitely think the sound of my voice is enhanced by slow music because you can hear the tone in my voice and my emotions when I’m singing a slow song. I think when the songs are uptempo, I actually have fun doing them, but I don’t think it’s what people want to hear from me all the time. Maybe it’s the kind of song I’m singing when it’s uptempo. But, we’ll see with the next record. I have a couple of songs that I really like and they happen to be uptempo. I don’t care. As long as I keep doing what I do for a living, and enjoying it as I do, I’m okay.
BeBe: I heard that. So many of us don’t get an opportunity to do what we love doing, and make a few coins at it, too. (Both laughing)
Chanté Moore: This is true!
BeBe: Now, you’ve also done a lot of great collaborations with artists out there. I definitely remember you working with the Isley Brothers on "Contagious" and with Boys II Men ("Home Is In My Heart") on the soundtrack to "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," and the successful song ("One More Time") with Kenny G. And, we definitely have to mention the duet albums ("Things That Lovers Do," "Uncovered/Covered") you did with your then husband Kenny Lattimore. Are there any artists out there, veterans or just coming up, that you think you would great matched up with on a song?
Chanté Moore: You know one that I’ve liked for a really long time has been (two-time Grammy winner) Maxwell ("Fortunate," "Pretty Wings," "Love You," "Lifetime"). I think that would be a really cool matchup.
BeBe: We can’t forget your contribution to the "Waiting To Exhale" Soundtrack. I like that "Wey U." There were a lot of babies made from that song. That’s all I’m saying. (both laugh)
Chanté Moore: Thank you.
BeBe: I understand that Whitney Houston had a big hand in choosing the "all women" contributors for the album. If I was told that I was personally chosen by Whitney herself, I’d be like, ’well. Okay!’.
Chanté Moore: (With giggle) She and CeCe Winan ("Count On Me") both were so sweet to me. And, definitely she (Houston) and Babyface (album producer) had a hand in choosing each of the people who were on the album. It was an honor then and an honor now.
BeBe: Well you have been doing this (recording and performing) for some time now. I mean, girl, you are getting close to 20 years now.
Chanté Moore: (With definite sarcasm) I don’t even know what you are talking about! (Both roar with laughter)
BeBe: Well, what I have noticed is that the ballads seem to be hitting it big with the male vocalists out there now, and not so much with the female singers like it once was, particularly like during the time like when you and Mary J. Blige were coming along in the mid-90s. Most of the female vocalists that I hear today are doing the dance and uptempo stuff. So, where do you fit in with today’s marketing of music?
Chanté Moore: Oh gosh! That’s not really my job to figure that stuff out.
That’s really hard to anticipate or figure out why it (changes in musical trends) happens. I think the most important thing for me is to continue to stay true to myself musically, and only do music that I love and believe in. If it is an uptempo song, I’m so open to that. A ballad, I’m so open to that, too. I am just having a really good time recording right now. I just love making music. I don’t really know why these changes and trends happen.
Staying true to herself
BeBe: Well, we have so many of these reality variety/talent shows ("American Idol," "America’s Got Talent," "The Voice," "X Factor") that create instant stars and place a lot of emphasis on youth. These kids are young, 19 and 20 years old, and are thrown out there to do music that seem to appeal to that age group, the dance stuff, as opposed to the ballads. I think maybe we associate the ballads with artists who are a little more mature. I know that is in contrast to the start of your career, because you were a young woman when you started out, but your success was based on the ballads you recorded, primarily. So, I wonder whether these reality shows pushing the youth thing has anything to do with it (things that make you go ’Hmmm’).
Chanté Moore: Yeah, that’s true.
BeBe: One thing you’ve always done, speaking of staying true to yourself musically, is stayed true to your roots by recording gospel music while also recording your R&B music. That seems to be really important to you.
Chanté Moore: Absolutely. I love the Lord very much. He is apart of my life. I try to keep myself presentable to my family, to people who are looking up to me. I don’t want to sing anything that my kids wouldn’t be pleased to hear, or able to hear for that matter. I try and sing what I believe. It’s easier to live true.
BeBe: Singing about what you believe, I know that there were reports that one of your big hits you recorded, "Chanté’s Got A Man," was about your then husband Kadeem Hardison (Dwayne Wayne on "The Cosby Show" spin-off "A Different World"). And then you had success with your two duet albums with your then husband Kenny Lattimore. So,how much does you being in love play in your creative and artistic process?
Chanté Moore: Well, you know wherever I am emotionally, I’m gonna write about it. When I’m happy, I’ll sing a happy song. When I’m not happy, I write some really emotional songs. The songs I write tell where I’m at in my life at every moment. I’m going to be honest and true because that’s who I am. And this next segment of my life, the things I can’t talk about, I’ll sing about.
BeBe: When will your next collection of songs come out and what will it be titled?
Chanté Moore: (The new album) It should be done in the next couple of months. It’s going to be called "Changed."
BeBe: You’ve been working on this a little while, haven’t you?
Chanté Moore: I have, but going through the divorce (from Lattimore), and then working a lot as a single mom (with two children, one with Hardison and one with Lattimore). It’s been rather busy just trying to get me and my children in a stable environment. Now that is done and over, I can get with finishing it (album).
BeBe: But, you know that ain’t no problem because you can’t rush quality! I love to hear from people like yourself, who I consider to be genuine artists instead of studio creations, say they are not letting the record companies push, or the demands from the audience rush you, you are doing it as it comes to you. And I like that.
Chanté Moore: Thank you very much.
Chanté Moore will be performing at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in San Francisco on July 5. www.yoshis.com/sanfrancisco.
For more information on Chanté Moore music and concerts, go to www.facebook.com/chante.moore.33
Watch Chanté Moore’s video of "Bitter":