Interview with ...
Carol, please introduce yourself to those reggae fans who don't know you as yet.
I am Carol Gonzalez, I am a Jamaican, I live in Kingston, Jamaica and I am a woman, a mother, a wife, an Attorney-at-Law and a Judge, but most importantly, I am a singer. I began singing during my teenage years and I continued singing until I was invited to Preside as a Judge in 1998. I have now decided to give up the law altogether and return to pursuing my most fervent desire, that is my elusive dream of being an internationally acclaimed singer. Although I had a few singles that did well in the European market, I never really achieved the level of success that I envisioned for myself. Having said that, I do believe that one can do whatever one sets out to do, thus I now set out to succeed as a singer. I have just now completed my first album, which I executively produced and which was musically produced by Dean Fraser, who is one of the world's most gifted musicians, bar none. I intend to resign from the law altogether, and re-launch my musical career within this year. I love to perform all genre of music; I love to perform live.
How did you start your musical career ?
My musical career began by accident ! In a nut shell, I had met a black american woman who had come to Jamaica to do a few gigs, while "shooting the breeze" with her, I began to sing along with her as she was rehearsing (to herself) and she commented that I sounded good (laughs). Well I had never even thought my being a singer or about singing at all, I just loved music, thus I laughed at her; well she asked me to sing back-ground vocals for her on the show and I did; after the show, the leader of the Resident Band that had backed her, asked me the same night, if I would be interested in joining the Band, of course I said yes and the rest is, as they say, history.
What were your main musical influences ?
Initially my main influences were Aretha Franklyn, Diana Ross, Shirlley Bassey, Gladys Knight, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Nancy Wilson, Pattie Austin, Laura Fabian, among many others and whereas I still love the above mentioned artistes, when I interpret a song, I am influenced by no one: that is to say, what comes out of me is my own true voice and at that time I am being influened by no one.
You have a distinct and recognizable voice. Is it natural or did you take singing lessons ?
The "sound quality" of my voice is natural, however I completed one of year vocal and stage craft training in Manhattan, New York. Further, I have now retained a vocal coach to assist me in maintaining my vocal strength, range and versatility.
You began your musical career in 1978, however, you recorded few singles since. Why ?
Simply because those were the opportunities afforded/available to me at the time and I did not have the resources then to produce myself, now I do and now I am.
Can you tell us more about your first single for Penthouse "Spoilt By Your Love" recorded in 1991 ?
There is not much to tell really : I liked the original song (Anita Ward), so did Donovan and he decided to produce a Reggae cover version of the said song. I gather that this song did well in Europe, however I have no means of verifying this information; having said that, this song is still being played on Jamaican electronic media. I really liked the arrangement of the song Donovan that achieved and think the musicianship is great and the harmonies "rock".
Your single "Second Class Love" recorded on the Action riddim in 1992 was recut for a combination with Buju Banton. Can you tell us more about it ?
The song "Second Class" was produced and released with both versions : a version with Buju and a version with only my lead vocals. The lyrics for the song were written by Wayne Almond, founding and former member of the Band "Chalice". Donovan have given the rhythm to Wayne and asked him to write lyrics with a melodic line to suit the particular rhythm; this method of writing is a bit limiting, because Wayne had to compose a melodic line that would be compatible with the completed rhythm track which had no under-lining melodic line. Notwithstanding, Wayne completed the task requested of him by Donovan and we recorded our version. Buju's performance on the track was well done and I was very pleased with it. I was not present when Buju laid his vocal tracks. We were previously introduced and I found him to be a wonderful, creative and brilliant young man and I believed then that he had a great future, in which wise I was proved right.
Your last single for Penthouse "Personal Delivery" recorded in 1993 on the Heavy Rock riddim was a big hit. Can you tell us more about this romantic balade ?
My word, I must tell you that I do not recall doing this song at all, I listened to the song the other night and whereas I recognized my voice, unfortunately I do not recognize the song and no memory of having recorded, thus I do not have I do not have much to tell about this song.
Why you did not record any more for Germain since ?
If memory serves, there were no specific reasons, we simply stopped; one possible explanation is that Donovan had an assemble of successful recording artistes on his roster and this kept him busy.
What is Donovan Germain's singularity comparing to other producers ?
As a producer, Donovan has a great ear in identifying commercial and successful musical material. Donovan also has his figures on the pulse of the market place and he has the "musical success" formula down to a science. Not many producers have this ability, indeed very few do.
Since 3 years, you came back to music industry after having carried out a brilliant legal career. How do you explain this return ?
Actually I am yet to formerly return to music, although I began the recording process of my first album during about August 2006. The reason for my return to music is simply due to my recognition/realization that there is nothing that I would rather do than music. My need to sing now outweighs my desire to do anything else; indeed I would rather attempt to re-launch my musical career and fail, rather than not do anything else and succeed at that. Absolutely nothing other than music provides the breathless and sheer spiritual joy of music and nothing can substitute for this joy.
You stood aside from the reggae industry during ten years. What do you think of the current state of the reggae industry ? Don't you think, like me, that quality is better than quantity ?
Absolutely ! Further, I would also like to see more of our female artistes front and centre, achieving the said level of success as our male counter-parts. Further. I look forward to the day when the Reggae genre' is represented by a high quality of musicianship and musicality, that is to say, musical tracks produced for particular songs, rather than the present representation our musical genre' in which so-called musical tracks are generic and limited to and contain no more than two to three cords.
You created your Website and your Myspace a few months ago. What is you personal use of internet ? Which are, according to you, the positive and negative consequences of internet on the reggae business ?
My personal purpose for the use of the internet is that it is a stupendous marketing tool, that is to say, the internet is an immediate world-wide promotional tool, my reasons also, in my opinion, represent the positive aspects of the internet; with respect to the latter part of the question, one negative consequence of the internet that immediately comes to mind is that there are times one comes into "cyber contact" with some very unsavory characters, in addition such characters are able to "hack" into one's "cyber space" even if one tries to blocked them. Also, one's music can be freely down-loaded to the detriment of the copyright and publishing owners of the music.
Who are your favorite female singers among the current generation ?
Some of my favorite current female singers are Whiney Houston, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Nora Jones, Martina McBride and among others. My love for female singers really lies with the timeless greats such as Aretha Franklyn, Gladys Knight, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross, Shirley Bassey, Nancy Wilson, among others.
Female artists are more often exploited than male artists in the reggae music industry. Don't you think that your legal career might be an obstacle in your next collaborations with reggae producers who could be afraid by your legal competences ?
Unfortunately this is so, in my opinion one of the reasons for this situation is a lack of resources available to these singers. if our female singers had access to funds, they would be able to pursue their dreams without compromising their personal self respect and dignity. I fervently wish to be a part of the solution to this problem; to this end I have formed a Recording company, one of the objectives of which is to provide the means by which female artistes can realize their dreams without losing their dignity, while staying true to who and what they are. I sure that my legal career will not be an obstacle; indeed if persons with whom I doing business, conduct themselves in the right and proper manner, they ought not to be "afraid' of me, however the converse is true: that is to say, I will not allow myself to be presented negatively, be defrauded or threatened, should anything negative occurs consequences will certainly flow.
I've heard your 1st album is produced by Dean Fraser. Could you tell us more about it ? Is it already released ?
Yes Mr. Dean Fraser was the Musical Director of the production of my first album; Firstly Dean is a musician par excellence, with a well developed ear for pitch. He is also remarkably creative; he is a perfections, thus some nights the lead vocal recording sessions run pretty late, he does not stop until the highest standard is achieved. Notwithstanding the foregoing, during the recording process of the album Dean was extremely gentle, kind and patient; it was sheer pleasure working with him, I enjoyed every minute.
To conclude, what are your plans for future works ?
I plan to give up the law completely by September 2007 and devote the rest of my life to producing and performing music, that is to say, live and recording performances; I particularly love to performances "live". My next album, (which has already begun) will be done in the Latin genre'; this album will include Latin classics/standards and original Lantin songs. Further, my agent has already booked at least ten live performances in the Caribbean, Florida, Europe and Asia. The first two gigs booked will be in Miami on the 27th and 28th days of July, 2007.
DISCOGRAPHY ON PENTHOUSE RECORDS :
- No Second Class Love with Buju Banton (1992 - Action riddim)
- Personal Delivery (1993 - Heavy Rock riddim)
- Second Class Love (1992 - Action riddim)
- Spoilt By Your Love (1991)
listen to these singles :