Charmaine Limonius; a jazz crooning angel of a songbird Image

by Biko Kennedy

With her album Moments set to be released later this year, the jazz crooning angel of a songbird possesses a charm that simply pulls you closer with every note she sings and never lets you go. We caught up with Charmaine Limonius a few days after her stellar performance at the Earth Hour Acoustic Concert to get a glimpse of her incredible career over the years

JAmusic: Some of the most genius artistes have thrived when taking chances and innovating. How important/present is that on the Reggae soundscape today; from what you've seen and that might have help in composing your singles?  

CL: To be honest, I have never really borne in mind what else is being done on the soundscape when writing my songs.  I write my lyrics and create my music purely on the basis of what inspires me at the time.

JAmusic: How do you think a single such as Evening Time will impact your growing fan base as well as attract new listeners? 

CL: Evening Time did, in fact, help to create the fan base that I have – not so much because of me, but because of the fondness that many listeners, both old and young, have for the song.  I have found that Jamaicans abroad are even more moved by the song than those here at home, again, I think because of the nostalgia that it evokes.

JAmusic: Your style seems to be a blend between vocalists like Nadine Sutherland, Pam Hall and  Tessanne Chin. Is this intentional and are these artistes persons you try to emulate? 

CL: It is not at all intentional, although I enjoy listening to all three artistes that you mentioned.  I have also been told that I sound like Joan Baez.  I take it all as compliment!

JAmusic: What's the biggest risk you've taken artistically; one that went over surprisingly well and one that might've gone over people's heads?

CL: I would say just picking up my guitar and going out there at all was a big risk, especially because I was totally unknown and also because I stepped into the business rather late in life. Most persons had no idea that I was so green. 

JAmusic: Who's the artiste that keeps you on your toes? Pushes you to go harder?

CL: Among my countrywomen, I have always admired Tessanne Chin long before she won The Voice!  I also like and admire Etana.  When it comes to performing, Gem Myers keeps me on my toes and makes me want to be better. As for international artistes, I think Celine Dion is amazing but the one who inspired me to take up the guitar in the first place was the one and only Dolly Parton.

JAmusic: When you got into the music business where did you think you'd be today or where did you see yourself fitting in at the moment?

CL: I had no real plan, so everything that has happened and continues to happen for me is always a pleasant surprise. I am still very humbled and flattered when someone compliments me or wants me to do a show for them.

JAmusic: What's the purpose on your musical journey? What's the message you're trying to give? 

CL: My purpose is to bring joy to my listeners.  I believe that music is a healer and can be an agent of positive change.  I try with my music to encourage people to be good to one another.

JAmusic: What's one song that you hold close to you because of a particular line or better yet what's the most philosophical quote you've heard in a song that you hold close to your heart?

CL: The song is called “Hey World” by Michael Franti and the line that gets me every time is: “Tell me why, on this hill, all the birds that used to come to fly here come to die here”. As for a philosophical quote, I’d have to say it comes from John Lennon’s Imagine:  Imagine there’s no country, it isn’t hard to do; nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.  Imagine all the people living life in peace…”.   Powerful words indeed! 

JAmusic: We live in an era where the average person's attention span is limited to what they want to see or hear. What are you doing differently that will hold their attention?

CL: I sing from the heart with no “smoke and/or mirrors”. What you see/hear is what you get. I’m not a “star” or a “diva”, and there’s no pretense at being “perfect”. I think my audience likes my shows because the only thing they can be sure they’ll get is a down-to-earth performance.

JAmusic: With success comes a lot of negative feedback, how do you react or deal with negativity?

CL: My nature is to feel wounded when someone is mean or negative to me, but I usually get over it, especially if I consider that perhaps the person(s) who are being unkind may just be unhappy.

JAmusic: What kind of future plans have you set for yourself as an artiste (to accomplish and maintain)?

CL: In the short term I want to release my latest album and hopefully get a positive response from my fans. I have a couple of other recording projects in the wings too.  I also want to do more goodwill performances, for example, for the elderly and for children.

JAmusic: What insight can you give on the power of music and its ability to communicate certain messages verbally and non-verbally? And what do you think your music represent?

CL: As I said earlier, music has a great deal of power … to communicate messages and also to heal.  I hope that my music represents my love for life, for people, for my country and for our planet.

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