Thursday, June 23, 2011

Up and Coming New Nashville- Chic Gamine

Last night, I was blown away by a new French-Canadian band named Chic Gamine opening for Marc Broussard in Sacramento. A unique combination of soul, roots, a capella and percussion, they included harmonies that knocked everyone off their feet. I may be late to the party- they won a Juno (Canadian's version of a Grammy) for their first album- but felt the need to share it with my readers.

Chic Gamine, the stylish and endearingly playful Winnipeg/Montreal-based vocal quintet, has been serenading its audiences since the summer of 2007. The group is composed of the 5 "A's": singers Ariane Jean, Andrina Turenne, Alexa Dirks and Annick Bremault, and drummer and percussionist Alexandre Sacha Daoud. Over the years, its members have been integral parts of a multitude of projects. To this day, Alexa sings with the R'n'B/Soul sensation little boy boom; Sacha played with the Brazilian Funk/Pop-flavored Gaia; and Ariane, Andrina and Annick were founding members of the award-winning World Vocal ensemble Madrigaia.

With a solo percussionist as their main musical support, Chic Gamine use their voices as instruments, effortlessly launching into intricate string arrangements, bass-heavy rhythm sections and lush harmonies. These multifariously talented songwriters create a sound that resonates with soul, passion, and an unabashedly random and sometimes downright peculiar brand of humor that reels audiences in and leaves them begging for more. Gospel, Soul, R'n'B, '50's Doo-Wop, Brazilian forro and French chanson are infused into the voices and rhythms of these five effervescent songmakers, combining for a sound that is uniquely Chic Gamine.

For Ariane, Andrina, Alexa, Annick and Sacha, Chic Gamine is a chance to take their love of experimenting with vocal roots music and bring it to a whole new level. "We're really drawing inspiration from the music we love, as well as from the music we've performed before." After spending years traveling with their respected groups, Chic Gamine is ready to take on the world. "Now that we've got such a solid starting point, the sky's the limit."

With just two years under their fashionably coordinated belts, they have put together a dynamic stage show; won a Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) for their debut CD, the self-titled Chic Gamine, and performed all over North America. Highlights include The Winnipeg Folk Festival, The Strawberry Festival, California World Fest, and opening for the legendary Smokey Robinson at the Festival at Sandpoint, Idaho. Check out "I Don't Lie" and then read some small bios on each of the talented singers below.

Annick is a singer-songwriter, an actress, and professionally-trained dancer who moves with effortless poise from performing to choreography and staging. Her voice pure and agile, Annick sings evocatively, drawn in by music's embrace. On stage, her direct gaze sparkles with aliveness and affectionate wit. She is often overcome by spontaneous bursts of delight and laughter. Prizing emotional honesty and compassion, she is committed to trusting her instincts, and she combines her need to express beauty and deep sensitivity with the need to be purposeful and true. Annick loves "getting there as much as being there".

A sweet and compelling soulfulness surrounds Ariane. With the voice of an angel, she effortlessly swings up to the highest notes, her whole body at all times an unrestricted conduit of sound. She dances and plays music with equally unrestrained agility. Ariane has a penchant for the intimate and evocative style of great soul artists. Her gentleness balanced by her individualistic nature, quiet resolve and bouts of astute humour, she now and then opens up her world to reveal its lush array of sounds, colors, and textures. Everything artistic is Ariane's destiny.

For Alexa Dirks, music is not just a hobby, it's a lifestyle; a language in and of itself. A language she has been singing before she could even speak. Starting as a backup vocalist for other touring artists, Alexa now finds herself - at the tender age of 20 - working with some of the most respected musicians in the Winnipeg community. Her husky, powerful voice, instinctive sense of melody and harmony, crystallize with her love of different styles of music and infuses every one of her vocal performances with breathtaking abandon. She has experience well beyond her years, as evidenced by her creative and mature songwriting abilities. With a voice so soulful and true, it's no wonder she's fronting one of Winnipeg's top R&B/Soul bands – little boy boom- and is now also privileged to be singing alongside some of the city's most talented and versatile vocalists in Chic Gamine.

Big pictures, bold colors, powerful songs, and spontaneous joie de vivre! Andrina is sensitive and big-hearted, and finds her home standing in front of an audience. Audacious Andrina, a student of the lives of heroes of our times, speaks out--her concern to make the world a better place gets the better of her. Her bon vivant humour makes her friends laugh, and she loves to try her hand at many musical instruments and off the wall musical projects. Her soulful, dynamic voice, innovative vocal stylings, and the use of popular language in her writing are only a few of her artistic tools. Music and emotion will move mountains.

Sacha Daoud is an explosively dynamic and intensely creative drummer, whose work stands out for its back-to-basics employment of pure sounds and organic rhythms. Sacha has been a student at two prestigious music schools, McGill University and the University of Montreal, and is a versatile musician whose playing is notable for its remarkable technical precision. Inspired by his Syrian/Brazilian heritage, he has undertaken intensive research and study of Brazilian percussion and Asian rhythms. Sacha frequently plays with a wide range of artists and groups, including Montreal’s Brazilian staple, the Paulo Ramos Group, Haitian-Canadian vocalist Luck Mervil and singer-songwriter Ariane Moffatt.

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