Carmen’s jazz a part of journey

2016-01-19 06:00
Carmen Xclusive makes magical music on her debut solo recording.  PHOTO: gary van dyk

Carmen Xclusive makes magical music on her debut solo recording. PHOTO: gary van dyk

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A musical journey that started in Mitchell’s Plain has reached a major milestone with the launch of Carmen Xclusive’s debut CD.

Many music lovers will simply know her as Carmen Herbert or, if you’re a bit more old-school, “Carmen from N2”.

She laughs when acknowledging her association with the popular band.

“Yes, that was a very important part of my life, my education and training in the music business, but it started before I joined them,” she says.

While, like so many musicians on the Cape Flats, the roots of her talent are in the church, she used to sneak away to the Inn on the Plain to listen to Rudolph Paulse and the band Horizon.

“I loved the music; it just meant something special to me and eventually I was persuaded to enter a singing competition there and the rest as they say is history.

“Offers came in for me to perform at cabaret shows and I was only 14 at the time, but I fell in love with the business and just enjoyed singing.”

Singing sweet 16As word spread about the young talent she joined up with Mike Kwagga’s Nuff-Zed when she was 16 and a year later joined the Wentzel brothers in N2.

“Performing with them for almost ten years was an exciting time for me. This was almost like me going to college and learning to hone my talent.

“Eventually I felt that I wanted to take a step up in my career by going beyond the club scene, get into the corporate scenario and work in a wider variety of styles.

“That’s also when I decided to become Carmen Xclusive as a brand that wanted to show the world my own identity and that there’s only one me,” she laughs.

Since then she has impressed music lovers with the best in the business in South Africa and discovered the jazzier side of her talent with Ian Smith’s VJR and various collaborations with the likes of Richard Caesar, Allou April and Robbie Jansen.

With the release of her album, Xclusive Nites @ Pigalles, she has surrounded herself with some of the best around town. Camillo Lombard produced the album with his band Top Dog backing her as well as a brass section comprising Ian Smith and Willy Haubrich.

Carmen confesses she has been going around to some of the popular radio stations but can’t get any of them to feature the album on their playlists.

This remains a mystery because every tune on this album is a carefully crafted gem.

“It’s an album of my favourite covers done my way,” she says.

“Volume 2 I am going to give the word some of my originals.”

She opens with the David Foster composition “Love that will Last” and the quality of the voice that made so many love her is immediately evident. The magic just keeps on coming your way.

She takes some pop classics like “Get Lucky” and Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” and twists them into tunes that could feature in an album of new jazzy standards. Even Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” features with a funkier kind of feel.

With a debut like this let’s hope Carmen gets back into the studio quickly to give the world some more of her musical magic.V For more information on where to get the album email or call Bernie on 079 871 9855.

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