What is beauty? Webster’s defines it as “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.” We all think we know it when we see it. A flower, a sunset, or even an inanimate object like a brand new Bugatti (but I digress) can all possess beautiful qualities. However, what is sometimes forgotten is the beauty that one holds within; a quality that exudes strength, love and a deeper sense of being. Such is the case with singer Chanté Moore. While her external beauty is unquestionable and captivating, I learned that it is indeed her inner beauty that shines much brighter. In our initial meeting, she was open, honest, funny and, above all, real in her discussion of her influences, relationships and passions.
When her debut single, “Love’s Taken Over” hit the charts in the early to mid 90’s, much of the music World was focussed on rise of gangsta rap and grunge which were thematically polar opposites of her sound, which was built firmly on love and emotion. As the scene evolved, so did Chanté. By the turn of the century, she was on fire with the personal “Chanté’s Got a Man” about her marriage to actor Kadeem Hardison and followed that up with the Jermaine Dupri produced dance track “Straight Up.” Despite a divorce from Hardison and another from fellow singer Kenny Lattimore, with whom she completed two albums, Chante’ emerged from personal and professional changes with grace and humility that can only come from being a grown a– woman.
Fast forward to today and many Millennials may know Chanté more for her role on R&B Divas L.A. than her music. However, with a solid catalog, still strong voice and her great new album, The Rise of the Phoenix, Chante’ Moore is poised to take the World by storm again. She possesses the rare qualities that make her an undeniable star and we were pleased to connect with her on a range of topics from her years growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, her thoughts on relationships, patience, self love, and even Prince.
We hope you enjoy our discussion as much as we did.
Ron Worthy: The new LP is called “Rise of the Phoenix.” It has been pushed back a few times and was just released. Can you tell me what’s been going on with that? Have their been issues with single selection?
Chante’ Moore: Oh no, not (about) single selection? It came out the 29th of (September). We had a distribution company call us and they said they wanted to distribute the record. They wanted a little more time for it to come out because they wanted a little more leeway so we pushed it back as far as we could because they wanted to get involved with the project because we were doing it ourselves. That was why that last push happened.
Otherwise, other things just kept happening. I really don’t understand because I wanted it out February 17 because that is 2/17/17 and it is my 7th album so that is what I wanted. It seemed something happened every time. Every month. It was something else going on and then we chose this and we chose that.
What is wonderful is that it ended up being 9/29/17 and that is the exact day that my very first album, Precious, was released 25 years ago (i.e. 9/29/92). I didn’t even know that until a few days ago when somebody reminded me that that’s the day of my first actual release. I think it is where it is supposed to be now. It is my favorite album since my first album, so I feel like things are really lining up to be exactly (the way) they should be. It feels really special and different than it has in the past. With this album, it feels like (everything) is clicking into place.
RW: When I heard about your project “Will I Marry Me?”, I thought that was really awesome to have the introspection to ask that question. People are always thinking about “What do they have to bring to the table?” but you’re talking about relationships in a different way. Can you tell us if the subject matter of this record is going to be about relationships? How does that work into the whole thing
CM: The first thing is that (the new album) is called The Rise of the Phoenix because everything that surrounds you is made to try you and to make you better. The mythology of “The Phoenix” is that there are situations that happen and it takes all of that and makes its fire and then it burns it all (i.e. everything that has happened to you).
I believe that all things work together for our good. Everything. The negative. The positive. Death. Birth. Whatever it is. And in the middle of that, the bird becomes renewed. It is reborn in the middle of all the things that we are ready for AND not ready for. It comes alive and becomes more beautiful, more powerful and better at doing what it does. That’s what I feel like has happened in my life. All the things that have happened to me have not just been TO me. It has been for me.
I believe that all things work together for our good. Everything. The negative. The positive. Death. Birth. Whatever it is. – Chante’ Moore
I really feel like it is a rebirth happening in my music and in my perspective. As a person, as a woman, as an artist, I feel reborn. I really do. Certainly this record reflects that. It’s the trials and the joys and the pain as well. What I love is that there’s always resilience. I always want to sing about resiliency and that, no matter what happens, you can survive it. Just get through it and it will be ok. Sometimes we feel like “Oh I’m not going to make it. It’s too much!” Just keep on living. It is going to be ok. It really is going to be all right.
I always try to deliver that message because whenever you’re going through something, when I’m going through it? No one else understands. I’m by myself. I’m alone. No one can help me. It feels like “Oh no! Its the end!” and then something happens and you keep living and keep breathing and you learn the lesson. Then the doors open, things shift and the Sun comes out. It really does. It gets better. That is what this record is about. It’s extremely personal. I definitely did fall in love and wrote a lot about that as well.
RW: Speaking of that, I know that you have two singles so far off the new album. “Real One” and “Something to Remember.” They are different. When I listen to “Real One,“ it was a little fiery. You mentioned “That (n-word) in the past”. I wondered if that was an actual person or was it just all relationships? Also, in your Unsung episode, you talk about “smart love.” Can you talk a little bit about both?
Official video for “Real One”
CM: With “Real One,” yes, it is specific and it is general, you know what I mean? There’s always somebody you go “What was I doing?” when you think about people your heart has chosen ahead of time and that definitely is connected to “smart love” and dealing with just being better at choosing. I think the first thing is being content with being wherever you are first. I have always been one step ahead of myself. When I’m single, I want The One. Like “Oh God! Where’s The One? ” or “Is he The One? I wonder if that THE ONE? I was so busy (focusing on The One rather) than being open and ready for the Next One.
I wasn’t patient enough to be just OK with being where I was (at the time). I really try to be content where I am. If I am single, then I am single and this is where I am. I live it and I embrace it. (I try) not be so lonely or so impatient that I don’t just experience rolling all over my own bed, you know? Cooking for one? Or not having to worry about whether this decision affects us both or not. You can just do what you like. You can get up and go where you want.
There are beautiful things about being single that I have learned to embrace. I think that is really all in one with the smarter and “Smart Love” and dealing with life the way it is unfolding, because it doesn’t just get dealt TO you. You have to make choices and that’s the thing about wisdom and being smart is that, if you make better choices, you end up with something that you actually want instead of something that you feel like “Oh God. I’ve just got backed into this corner so oh well. This is it!
You really have to make a choice. If you don’t want that, then don’t say yes. If you don’t want that, then don’t say no. There are things you should do that affect your life and your future. Don’t be afraid. That’s where I had been for a long time. I was into pleasing people and wanting to love and honor that person so much that I didn’t love and honor myself.
RW: That is great advice. I’m always curious about artists that do the show, “Unsung”. Do you feel like you are unsung? Why? Why Not?
CM: I don’t think I am unsung specifically but maybe under-sung. (laughter). There is so much more of me that has not been exposed to the masses. And I believe that it is time for us to be heard and to be exposed to the World. There is so much I want to share.
“Unsung” was more. I didn’t want it to feel like “she’s unsung.” I wanted it to be more of a “this is what was and now this is a new stage…a new phase of my life.” To me, I was really happy the way they ended it. It wasn’t like “that’s the end.” It was like, “Oh no. I have a new record coming. I’m dealing with this. I’m pressing with them. This is happening over there. “ I have so much more to offer to the World so I was glad that I did that with that in mind. It wasn’t just “Oh thanks. Bye Bye.” It was, “No, make sure you end it with more to come.” There is so much more to come.
RW: I used to live in Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area, where you are from. I know the Bay has a long history of jazz, soul, funk like Sly, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly as well as folks like E40 and Too $hort. How did all of that influence you coming up?
CM: My father is a preacher so we weren’t allowed to listen to any other music other than gospel much when I was growing up. So I didn’t hear any of that until I was 13 or 14 years old. Believe it or not. I would hear of things like if I was at a church picnic or, at school, I’d hear a couple songs but I really didn’t embrace all the realms and different genres of music until I was 13 or 14.
Prince was one of the first people that I heard in the garage. It was because my brother is 7 years older than I. He started listening to music in the garage and that was when I started hearing it and I was like “Oh shoot! Oh my God! Who’s that? What is that?” I didn’t know what I was missing but when I found out that there was tons of music from Chaka to Minnie Riperton to Prince to Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. All of that. There were so many different sounds and it flooded in
RW: Speaking of Prince, where were you when you heard that he died and how did it impact you?
CM: (SIGH) It is funny because you say Prince and, while your were talking, I (realized) I dreamt of him last night. In my dream, I was like “Where are you going? Why do you keep running away from me? ‘Cause I know you.” He was saying, “Keep chasing me. Keep following me. “ I said “No. You’re embarrassing me ‘cause you’re not coming over here when I want to talk to you.” (laughter).
But it devastated me. He was (SIGH)…he was…if I could ever have an idol? (Although) I don’t like that word, he was definitely someone that I admired musically. (I admired) how committed he was to being Prince at all times. He was never just a regular dude. He was always Prince on and off stage. He always had heals on and makeup and lace and his hair was shaved. He had “Slave” on his face when I met him. He was just so cool and I’ve learned how to be more excellent and its OK to be eccentric. I hope that people learn that. It broke my heart when he passed because he passed alone. I didn’t like that; that people didn’t know he was as sick and as under the influence of that particular drug as much as he was. I just think that somebody should have known. They should have gotten a little closer and looked out for him. I hate that. I really hate that.
Check out Chanté Moore’s new LP, The Rise of the Phoenix below:
Ron Worthy is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of soulhead.com. He is a passionate audiophile who has been DJ for over 25 years, studied classical music and has played 4 instruments. He loves discussing all things Prince, Hip-Hop, and Funk. He shoots a mean game of pool, digs comedy, eating fried fish sandwiches, making crab cakes and drinking micro-brews from all over the World. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and cat. Check out some of his work for soulhead.