Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience.” “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”
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Interview with Nashville-based pop/rock artist Chakra Bleu
by Dave Carew
Hailed by fans in the 2000s as “The Fleetwood Mac of Nashville” for their vibrant, female-centered pop/rock sound, Chakra Bleu became a mainstay of the Nashville club circuit for more than five years, until leaving for the past several years for a performing hiatus and to concentrate more fully on songwriting. Returning in late 2009 as a solo artist rather than a band, Chakra Bleu offers a unique blend of pop/rock that is upbeat, tuneful, thought-provoking, and uplifting. Calling her music “Empower Rock,” Chakra Bleu’s mission, she says, is to “invite [my] audiences to move forward…with pioneering and empowering attitudes that dare to open the mind and heart.”
“Underground Nashville” recently caught up with Chakra Bleu (pronounced SHOK-ruh BLUE) to talk with her about her performing hiatus, her return, and her new album You’re the One:
UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: After performing dozens of live shows in Nashville during the first half of the 2000s, you dropped out of the club scene for several years. What prompted that move away from performing…and your return now with You’re the One?
CHAKRA BLEU: It seemed at that time that [my] efforts were just hitting a wall. The exposure was still strong, in that many folks were familiar with Chakra Bleu. However, it was frustrating that I wasn’t able to reach the music biz. Music City USA and its music biz still primarily focus on country music. Although, some of my roots embrace that [Americana] style, my past two CD’s were pop/rock. In fact, my 2003 CD, Seize the Day, had the single “Hopelessly In Love” promoted on the Adult Contemporary charts by Tom Mazetta, who’s promoted hits for Elton John, Heart, Paul McCartney, Delbert McClinton, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, etc. Unfortunately, this CD didn’t catch the attention here in Nashvegas…my beloved town that I just won’t give up on.
Meanwhile, I had made several changes in my band that weren’t feeling quite right. I decided to veer away from the “band thang” and solo it out awhile. Jeez…I mean [being in a band] is like being married to five people at once! [Laughs.] One lover at a time for me is enough, let alone deal with my own schtuff! Being ‘Chakra Bleu’ [just by myself] was such a relief. I felt synced into this comfortable new identity, and took a brief exit from performing live, so that I could fire up very commercial pop and Americana songs that would be favorable to all age groups. I spent weeks at a time in mountain and lake cabins, concentrating on coming up with at least 40 new songs to choose from for the next two CD’s. I chose a CD Planning Committee to help chose the best commercial direction on this new CD, included [selecting] the songs, the theme of the CD, the ‘vibe’, the photos, etc.
UN: In what ways is You’re the One distinctive from earlier Chakra Bleu albums? And in what ways does it walk the same pathway as your earlier work?
CB: This album has 16 songs, of which only two are “food for thought”/introspective songs. The direction of this CD was “light-hearted love songs,” which were youthful, upbeat, and hopeful—especially to off-set, if you will, the counter-active struggles of today’s economy, and the stress that is obviously affecting 95% of us.
The fourth cut on this CD, “Sunflower of My Dreams” became the under-current of this album, in that the sunflower itself, and its symbolism, became the theme. The symbol of the sunflower includes that of hope, success, fulfillment, prosperity, health, devotion, peace, and happiness.
The comments from the fans so far consistently have been that, indeed, this CD is uplifting and hopeful…a light in this darkened time of their lives. So, this CD is on the same “path” as the previous. Each CD contains, first and foremost, the vibe of an uplifting and empowering quality. Also, each CD contains particular songs that offer introspective, message-related qualities. They surpass religious agendas/dogmas, and allow all to question life, hopefully leading to further insights that can bring one more awareness into their life…more joy, simply put!
Coming next week in “Underground Nashville”: Part II of our interview with Chakra Bleu, and our review of her new album “You’re the One.”
For more about Chakra Beu, and to listen to her music, visit chakrableu.com
David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.