I Found My Rhythm
I found My Rhythm... "This isn't fast-food R&B. This is the underground nu-soul classic that your mother said you should put on repeat in your CD player. Complete with an Afro-Fusion jam In Swahili and a feel-good Summer Time jam hot enough to fast-forward your winter..." 'This woman is seemingly not just singing words, but experiences issues, her own issues, and sentimentally in Golden Coin. While flaunting her crown as the queen of the slow stuff in Fly, as well as in the lyrically well crafted One on One.' Namibian Sun 29 May 2008 (Jeremiah Ndjoze Reading through the following review written by Randall (U.S based marketer and previous music reviewer for The Indianapolis Star & Indianapolis News), one can tell that he has Christi summed up as a star with quality. He writes that... Christi is "a wordsmith with a stylistic savvy and a voice that can be gentle as an angel's breath or on occasion, caustic as a lemon tart," with thought provoking lyrics and rich and satisfying music. It's hard to pick favourite cuts when the overall quality displayed is so high. The cut "The Rhythm Of Love" is an example of Christi's lemon tart side. She displays a hip & sassy street smart persona as the wise "soul sister" warning others of the struggles faced fighting for equality in the battle of the sexes. The rap has a catchy refrain sang sweetly to a head-boppin' beat. On "In Swahili" her vocal tone is lullaby smooth even though the lyrics are of great importance and loaded with African references. Upon scrutiny the lyrics reveal the immense pride for her homeland and ancestors and the song comes from deep within her heart and soul and is breathtakingly special. "My favourite today (could change daily) is Christi's song "One On One" which features the fresh young Namibian female rapper Robynia and has an infectious beat guaranteed to get everybody up and dancing. The chorus sounds like Danity Kane (who'd die to have this song!) and is simply spellbinding. The production value of this track is outstanding and gives me the impression that this one will be a big hit... not just locally, but around the entire globe. (Randall Parrish - Las Vegas USA). Musical, theatrical and poetic background • Believe it or not, this Windhoek based RnB/Soul singer-songwriter, first made her entrance onto the Namibian music scene in 1995 along side Bollie Mootseng (popular Namibian singer and television producer) and T.C (now member of the Kalaharians) with the ever popular song 'Ibababye ja... ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON.' • But I won't be surprise to know that most people will remember her as a presenter on Soul Makhosa, a Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) music show, where she acted under the pseudonym 'Lady Makhosa,' bringing local music, at it's best, to the masses. • You might even remember seeing her face on the cover of the June 2005 edition of 'Sister Namibia,' • or as the lawyer named "Ndiri" in the NBC television drama "BIG CITY" • or as a member of the now defunct music group (XPlode) that brought us the popular song Tangy, tangy thang (nominated in 2003 in the category Best RnB/Female - of the Sanlam Namibia Music Awards) • or can it be that you heard her voice on radio in the 2006 Desert Soul production on HIV and AIDS where she lend the voice to the character sister Gerty who took us through her suffering and happiness as she learned to live with an HIV positive husband. No matter where you remember her from, it is indeed clear that Christi has a passion for the arts. Now one can understand why Chilombo (Sister Namibia journalist) wrote, "Christi Warner... A life committed to the Arts." Christi lives in Windhoek, her birth place, but for part of her early childhood she lived in Oranjemund (the town that contributed to her mixture of British and American accent). For Christi and many 'Oranjemunders' this little diamond town along the south-western coast of Namibia has always been 'Heaven on Earth.' While many Namibian towns went through the notoriously known era of Apartheid, this town and it's inhabitants were shielded against this cruel reality. It was only when she went to school at a near by town across the border - in South Africa - that Christi experienced the pain of having less rights as a black person, the pain of Xenophobia for being different and from a different country. Christi believes that being the only foreign and black student at a dominantly coloured school and learning to deal with the sad reality of being a loner encouraged the birth of her first poem (My Reflection which talks about finding and trusting herself). This poem and her passion for writing were born when she was only 14 years old. • As a poet she worked on publications such as "POETICALLY SPEAKING" (with Franco Cultural Centre - McMillian Publishers - 2000) and • "IN SEARCH OF QUESTIONS" (with Basler Afrika Bibliographen - BAB 2005) where she acted as co-editor and also published some of her poems within. • Her poetry performances include events at the Namibian State House for the First Lady and other Namibian women in key positions, • at the American Cultural Centre, • for Women Solidarity, • the Namibia Literacy Campaign, • Spoken Word, • and in 2007 she made her appearance at the Namibia Business Woman's Award where she gained praise for her performance style and ability to capture her audiences. According to an article in the (Namibian Economist - 19 October 2007), She presented... "with passion and superb dramatic effects. Not even the South African acclaimed people's poet, Mzwakhe Mbuli, could have done better..." • In 2008, she was one of the only two acts invited to perform at the Namibia Business Hall of Fame event (which was on the 11 April). According to Christi, at this event she met Namibia's most influential people, crowds of laureates, and paid homage to them with this final, yet sturdy conclusion to her poem: We engrave thee as titans of grit and pillars of hope and hail thee with unabashed mirth for being our champions of industry Social Responsibility Although her 'lullaby smooth' angelic voice and 'deep lyrics' easily makes her stand out as a world class singer and songwriter, one can not ignore the fact that she has a caring heart and is naturally consistent with using her artistic abilities to help others. In 2003, she joined the team who brought us the first Sanlam Namibia Music Awards, an event that has had a remarkable role to play in the current growth of the Namibian music industry and has made many local artists house-hold names. Acting as an adjudicator at a Namibian talent show for young people, Christi met Percival Rinquest, a talented young singer from Walvis Bay. Through his determination, his talent, his family's assistance and many generous sponsors, Christi managed to help realise this boy's dream to perform in Los Angeles, where he won two gold medals - in 2005. She also produced his popular music video "You and I belong" under her production company AfroChica Entertainment. I've had the opportunity to meet Christi long before she ever thought of releasing a musical album and one thing is clear that for her supporting significant and liberal events have become a priority on her path to become an artist with a purpose. Her artistic journey started off in 1993, with the Bricks Community Project (a community based organisation that existed from 1980 - 2001) where she chose to use her talent to encourage grassroots communities to vocalise their challenges and find solutions through poetry and theatre performances. Christi believes that her passion to write about 'things that matter' was somehow inspired through her involvement with Bricks and meeting people with passion and commitment for chance. Historically brave people like Ngugii wa Mirri and Augusto Boal, the latter she met in London during her studies at King Alfred's University, the university now known as the University of Winchester. In 2003 she joined Township Productions to continue her love for theatre for development. Today, if she's not performing on some stage, or writing her next poetic master piece, she acts as a facilitator and producer for Township Productions, exploring with Namibian communities the value of 'Forum Theatre' in our fight against HIV and AIDS and other social ills. Her influences Just like her passion for community development work, her music is special, as Randall said "It is breathtakingly special". Malaika Angelus - friend and contemporary folk singer - believes that Christi's ability "to harmonize with such intrigue and ease stems from her Liberian roots." According to Angelus "these roots that can be heard and identified in her music through her storytelling ability and her melodies." She continues to say that "her voice is unique on an international scale, a fresh addition to the few notable vocalists forthcoming in the contemporary musical era." Christi strongly believe that her mother, a single parent with Liberian ancestry, influenced her positive background and introduced her to the wealth and diversity of African and Western music. "Every morning, especially weekends, my mother would wake us up with smooth music - all sorts of genres - and a hot plate for breakfast. Already then I learned to appreciate music and experience it's ability to play with ones emotions (I believe that it takes just the right kind of song to put you in the right kind of mood). Thanks to my mother I learned that music has the ability to move beyond borders and her diverse range of musical menu helped me identify the individual musicians that I liked." When asked about her musical influences, she speaks proudly of Tracy Chapman. According to Christi, Tracy Chapman's music is entertaining yet informative. Furthermore she is captured by the vocal styles of Alicia Keys, the soul of Luther Vandross and what gives her strength to produce as a Namibian artist is the "constant evaluation and fortitude of our very own Sharon van Rooi. She grew strong and continues to triumph in an industry where RnB/Soul/Jazz has to continually battle for it's existence. I still remember Sharon from the time when she sang that sweet song in Afrikaans (the song known as Nankiepoo)." Her musical journey continues In 2006, while on holiday in England, she met Kevin Jenkins, British music promoter, guitar player and owner of Selecta Sound Studio in Oxford, who after hearing some of her songs showed interest in a collaboration, but somehow Christi decided that she would rather return to her homeland and release her first Album as a completely Namibian product. Christi believes that, "it's wonderful to know that people from outside the continent love my writings, but it just didn't feel right to have my first CD produced outside my country. I'm just too sentimental about my country and therefore wanted my first full Album to come from home, this included working with local producers. The second album and the rest can come from outside Namibia, as long as the first album comes from home." This experience with Kevin has brought her many learning curves and has made her determined to excel as a musician that uses her poetic thoughts, "Two important lessons I learned from Kevin was that my poetry sounds great with acoustic sounds and life instrumentation, especially the guitar and that I have a gift to speak through my poetry. He is a genius when it comes to the guitar and helped me a lot on finding the cords for other songs I hope to release on my second album." Her reasons for release But the persons that finally steered her towards releasing her music was firstly, Michele Cappellari. "I fell in love with Christi's poem, "Less-Ordinary" which was published in the anthology 'In Search of Questions' in 2005 but it was her song "Fly" that made me realise that Christi's music has the potential to go very far. I encouraged her to build her own 'Myspace' page to share her talent with a wider audience and then to start working on her first CD." Then she continues saying that all the wonderful comments from her friends on myspace gave her so much more confidence to get the CD to the manufacturer. She further states that working with Beatmaster, (who has worked with the young kwaito sensation Genis) helped her bring in a friendlier, funny side to her music. "In fact my experience with Beatmaster made me feel so proud of my music. I have to remember to thank him for life cause he helped me uncover another dimension to my music. In fact he helped me smile through my music." Beatmaster, in return felt honoured that Christi took a chance on him and had this to say: I really enjoy my work as a music producer and video editor; the work got even better after starting music production with Christi Warner because her voice has some kind of a smooth golden touch to it. The first time I heard her sing in my old studio I was like wow! That's the female artist I want to work with." Christi also felt that Stalin has helped her a lot on her journey of musical growth. "He invested so much time in helping me create music for a specific audience. His dedication to help me make it and succeed with a genre yet unestablished, especially within the local RnB scene, speaks volumes and I owe him a lot." According to Stalin (much respected Producer of RV Inc, behind artists such as Snazzy, Rizzy, African Boy, and responsible for the theme song of AfroConnection and now also produced certain tracks on Christi's album), "Christi is a dedicated artist. What sets her apart from other female singers is her ability to articulate her emotions through the use of her impeccable poetry." He personally classifies Christi "as an Adult contemporary singer, the last of an endangered breed." Others that worked on the Album Other team members who lend a hand on the production of this album are... DJ Kboz (from radio Energy), Trace (who has worked with African Boy & recently with D-Naff), rhythmic guitar player and producer Claude, Wojtek (from Audio Art Recordings), Kiiru wa Ngotho (Myndz Community), Robynia (young female rapper who is also a member of the Namibian Municipality Junior Council) and finally Rodger Dodger, Namibian hip-hop artist. Previous releases and lessons learned Christi has had songs played on radio and television and in 2005 released the single "THE RADIO WILL DIE" under the label RV Inc. This same song was released internationally through the internet on the compilation CD of RV Inc in 2006 through (Nomadic Wax on Calabash music). But sadly she is unable to share with us the fruits from this release because she was never able to get the information from the persons entrusted upon by her and RV Inc. "Let this be a lesson for other musicians, it's better to always do things yourself or with people who have at least built a rope of trust because when you entrust others that has no prove of success you might just find yourself in the same predicament. There are many well established, respectable and notoriously known and accessible distributors, e.g. CD Baby, LuLu.Com, Amazon - to mention but a few - on the World Wide Web. Nevertheless, thanks to Nomadix Wax my song introduced me to a couple of fans too." Future Plans Now for Christi, the plan is to get the album out and let it fill the hearts and minds of people. "I hope that my music can make people feel good about themselves. I hope when people listen that the songs like " Swahili" and "I'm just a girl" will help them take to heart that they are individuals first and foremost and that they should never be afraid to find themselves and live the only one life that God bestowed upon us." Christi believes that she has a lot to say through her music and hope to start work on the second album as soon as this one has been sold and has done well. In December 2008, Christi will be working with a team of artists from the United States of America, to fulfil a long time dream of hers and friend, Erin Buckley (a New York based film producer and actress). Eight years ago, these two women from different worlds met at Bricks Community Project in Namibia, and shared a dream to use both their artistic abilities to work with orphans and terminally ill children. Their reunion will bring about the launch of a support organisation for orphans and orphanages, a charity organisation known as COV which stands for Children of Our Villages. The 2008 pilot project will benefit 17 orphaned and vulnerable children from Witvlei (about 179km outside Windhoek - on your way to Gobabis). Their aim is to share their artistic skills with the children and the Witvlei community, and together produce films that will be showcased, first in Witvlei and then in Los Angeles in February 2009 at the COV Film Festival with the aim of raising funds for the Witvlei Orphanage and other Namibian orphanages. Conclusion The album "I FOUND MY RHYTHM" is her first full-length Album and is produced and released under her production and publishing company, AfroChica Entertainment & B16. The album hit the streets of Namibia on the 13th of May.