Chantal Marie

by Sherif Awad

Chantal Marie

-I was born into a very musical and artistic family.  My parents were considered somewhat celebrity in our small town with my mother being a classical pianist and artist/painter, and my father a fiddler.  They had a band together and also performed individually in their own genres.  My uncle is also an accomplished musical Artist, as is his son as a Christian music labelled Artist.  So - music, performance and artistry was our culture at home.  I started singing in my family's music room from a very early age, performed in our school shows in high school, and continued with formal musical training in College. From there, I began performing professionally, starting in Theme Parks, then Cruise Ships, then Las Vegas and tours.

-My parents, my uncle, my own family were my inspirations.  I was brought up to appreciate the arts by all of them, but I was most inspired by my uncle on the night my parents first took me to see him perform.  I was AWESTRUCK by his performance and his absolutely engulfment and passion in his music.  That's when I knew I wanted to do that as a career. Then I saw the show FAME and was even more motivated to go for it!  FAME - was my life!

-"Studying" was never easy for me.  But practice was enforced in my family, and we were obligated to do 1-2 hours of practice with our instruments each day.  Much-needed practice.  I was also enrolled in ballet at 5 years old.  Although the discipline was in place, thanks to my musical parents, the training as an adult in Musical Theater College was the toughest and most rigorous!  It was the TOUGHEST training, the most INTENSE training, the most COMPETITIVE training...3 dance classes per day - ballet, tap, jazz, plus "movement", plus acting, plus music theory, piano, voice....12-hour days of physical, mental and spiritual training to condition and train for the real world in Arts.

-The challenges I face in my industry are more related to skill level. Some castings are type-cast where it's only about looking the part they have in mind, so your talent is second to that.  But other castings require a specific vocal range, a specific level of dance ability, etc... I have been blessed to work in some of the best shows with incredible talent most of my life.  The opportunities I did not get, I know I tried my best and that's the lesson to remember,... as much as we can get rejected, it's important to keep in mind the SUCCESSES as well.  Now, as I age, I find I do get perhaps fewer jobs, BUT...with each age range, there is a whole new need and market.  So now - I am doing well in "mature women" categories I previously could not fill.  I'm able to play roles of a mom, a dr, mature skin, etc... in the TV and commercial world.  Which is wonderful.  At the same time, I'm still blessed to be able to perform musically as a Shania Tribute Artist.  Again - blessed!

Chantal Marie

-Currently with the pandemic, my industry is suffering.  As talent are normally Independent Contractors, we do not get pensions, health benefits, paid leave... we do not get paid unless we work.  We get paid by the job.  So it's a very challenging time for us as we naturally cannot do live performances, or film with crew and cast.  For the safety of all - our work is suspended.  However...our bills continue to amass without our ability to pay them with continued income at this time.  It's a struggle for all of us.  We continue to be hopefully, and reinvent ourselves as much as our creativity will allow us!  We reinvent, we learn new skills, we apply our strongest talent - CREATIVITY.  And we find more ways to work!

-I look at the project, the motives for it, the audience they are targeting, the message they are delivering through my representation (since it's my face, my name, my reputation on their brand or product).  I am careful to take jobs that promote and inspire joy, relief, bring healthy entertainment value to others whether through music, products, services, etc.

-My entire career as a Production Singer.  My career in this field has taken my life on the BEST ADVENTURES I could have ever imagined.  I've traveled extensively thanks to my work, I've met incredibly gifted people, kind people, generous people from all walks of life and culture along the way, and have made friends with my Cast mates, who've become family, dating all the way back to my beginning days at Theme Parks 3 decades ago (in fact, we have a zoom meeting tonight - the Cast from Canada's Wonderland), to my global family and network, through the numerous Cruise Ships I've performed aboard.  We are now family, and this is my greatest accomplishment - having gained their friendships and been blessed with a life of adventure and excitement. 

Chantal Marie

-Lyrics flow naturally from emotions.  So when you are grieving, suffering or full of joy - those feelings are already in your system.  The art, is in recognizing those feelings and being able to express them through sound and words.  So sometimes lyrics comes first and sit at the forefront, but I'll hear a melody attached to them. Other times, like when you're composing lyrics to someone else's melody... you have to find the emotion within you, from past experience, that corresponds with the melody you are hearing which did not come from your own soul.  That can be a bit more challenging...for me at least. As far as promoting my own music goes... I am more about promoting the shows I'm in, or the work I do... composing music is not and has not been my main focus.  Not because I don't enjoy it, but more because I've been focussed on other things.  Those who compose are usually very skilled at an instrument... when I had access to a piano, that's when I composed.  But it's been years since I've had one.  Maybe someday I'll have that again and return to composing.  If and when that time comes, I would promote on every platform available, that does NOT take advantage of Artists' rights, but rather, promotes the sale - even if at discount rates - of Artists' work and generates revenue for the Artist whose life translated into music, is helping to entertain and bring joy to others.  That deserves earnings.

-As a Production Singer, I am taught the choreo which the producers hire, and given a music score to learn.  Anytime I've done my own "cabaret" style shows, then I choose my music based on my favorite selections to sing, the audience I'm about to entertain, the amount of time I have to perform, the mood I'm in which also directs me towards a particular genre or "vibe"... and the rest is matched to that - movement, costume, full orchestra or small band, lighting, set, ambiance, etc.

-I recently launched a training course for new presenters. I believe the style of presenting on TV will always evolve.  It used to be template oriented, very "studio" clean and polished.  However, people want a much more authentic and "real-life" interaction, connection and view of products and services.  That said - YouTube style videos - I believe - will continue to make a great impact and generate interest.  The biggest trend difference I've observed, in addition to turning to more authentic, natural videos, is the much MUCH shorter length in videos.  Videos used to be 3 minutes on average, if not longer,  Now, with Insta especially, our videos must be 30 SECONDS at most in order to retain viewer attention.  With such a tight parameter to deliver your message, product or brand, AND have a strong call to action - it's even more critical than ever to be sharp on camera - in your speech, in your pace, in your framing, etc, to be effective and stay competitive.  As far as mainstream goes...I believe many more people will continue to turn to other options, to personalize their selections and again, access more authentic looking and feeling shows.

-Perfect your craft as much as possible.  Research and be aware of what your industry's needs are so you can focus on delivering on those needs.  Notice shifts in trends.  Be adaptable, versatile and above all - open to REINVENTING yourself as needed.  Contrary to many in the corporate world...I do NOT believe you must focus and perfect only ONE craft.  Not in this industry!  That will kill your career.  Be VALUABLE and NEEDED in MULTIPLE disciplines and skills, so you can continue to earn money and make a living, in more than just one field.  Yes - be a song writer.  But know other skills to fall back on in times of need.  Yes - be an amazing dancer. But know other skills to fall back on in times of need.  Yes - be a presenter.  But know other skills..... you get the idea.  This industry has no loyalty.  When a show closes, we must all find our way to the next one.

Chantal Marie

-In the Arts, when we perform, we portray a certain persona.  It's our stage persona.  This is not necessarily, or usually, who we are in private.  I believe it's important for our audiences to be able to feel this "magic" when they see us up on stage, so they can get lost in their own spectacular inspiration which our music (hopefully) provides.  I believe it takes away from that magic, when they see us afterwards perhaps, or later on... tired, exhausted from a performance, sweaty... lol.  In person, I prefer to let my audience experience my stage persona or character without having it torn down by my "real life" boring self when I'm in post-show sweat pants with my hair a mess and my stage makeup off.  Yikes!  Haha!  However...some fans do like to follow us in real life, after the shows and stay connected.... and for those, I provide outlets to be part of my world and get a closer glimpses into this life of mine.  I simply do so without offering too much of my private life or family life.  With that, it's important to be protective and have parameters. 

-With these current, shaky pandemic circumstances, I am promoting my freelance/remote work, aimed at helping smaller companies to prepare for relaunch while we have the time.  Either doing staff training videos for them for the near future, or doing promo videos for them from home, to help boost traffic to their sites online, introduce new products, services for them, etc.  Some of these little projects that I can safely do from home include product testimonials for hair and skin care, things of that nature.  I also just had a casting request from a film Director to Act in an upcoming scene for his YouTube film, so I'm preparing for my role in that.