Charmaine DaCosta is a single mother of two beautiful daughters; she has a BA in English Literature and an MBA. Charmaine is also an independent artist and entrepreneur. She is a former member of Worl-A-Girl, the most successful ‘90s reggae/ dancehall girl-group. A member Phi Beta Kappa honor society, Golden Key International Honor Society, this Stony Hill, Jamaica native traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and United States as well as Japan including Reggae Sunsplash and Japan Splash. As an integral part of Worl-A-Girl’s success story, with outstanding song writing as her hallmark Charmaine penned the group’s hits including “I Can’t Wait,” “You That I Want,” and “Jamaica Bobsled Chant”, a theme song on the Cool Runnings Disney movie soundtrack. National recognition for Dacosta is not daunting as she has appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, The Arsenio Hall Show, BET’s Teen Summit, MTV and What’s the 411. Charmaine also did stint as a guest host on NYC’s WLIB radio with Bob Fredricks.
Since parting with Worl-A-Girl, DaCosta is on another musical mission, she is born again Christian who believes her mission is to encourage those in need of a little love, compassion. Her music is dedicated to her faith in Christ Jesus. Her current CD “Say You Love Me” that she says Women will love, because there are so many songs that touch on their issues with the world and their faith. Jamiacans.com senior music writer Stan Evan Smith talked with Charmaine
SES.How long have you been a singing professionally?
CD: 30 years
SES: List your major influences in music and how they impacted you musically?
CD: Gladys Knight, Brooke Benton, Anita Baker, 60’s Rock.
SES: List your favorite artists?
CD: Lenny Kravitz, Anita Baker, and Tina Turner
SES: With the success of the Wor-a-Girls experience why did you decide to go solo and was it difficult?
CD: I was ready to do something that was closer to my heart…I never really fit into the Dancehall mold.
SES: How would you describe your music, which genre best describes your sound
CD: I don’t think I fit very comfortably in any genre so it’s I describe it as folk/rock/reggae/R&B/country.
SES: You fused Rock & Roll with reggae why did you choose to do that?
CD: I did not deliberately set out to do that, it just naturally formed itself that way.
SES: You sang secular music for years, what is the difference now you have become a gospel sing?
CD: Before I sang what made me feel good and whatever made the statement I was interested in making…now my music is more about being in the will of God and bringing comfort and encouragement to His people.
SES: Do still sing secular songs?
CD: sometimes I do…I don’t think secular songs are bad in and of themselves; I am just mindful of what I sing when doing secular songs.
SS: If memory serves you were involved in discrimination law suit yrs ago would be willing to talk about it?
CD: Don’t think you have the right Charmaine on that one.
SES: As a black female artist what kinds of the obstacles you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?
CD: I think that I have been kind of pigeon-holed because I am female, black and Jamaican. People expect me to do and say things a certain way and when they don’t get that they are a little surprised.
SES: Did you think being a female helps to advance your career or has it hurt you?
CD: I am pretty serious minded so that is not helpful when you are a singer who is not bankrolling your own projects.
SES: Do you think that radio, TV and the concert stage offer the female artist the same opportunities to be seen and heard as your male peers?
CD: Well, I am not sure about that but it does seem strange that with the plethora of female artists out there, only a few ever seem to get any recognition and the same ones are kept in the limelight and others are excluded.
SES: What are some of the things you think the music industry could do to make it easier for female artists to break into the industry or succeed?
CD: Respect their talent and contributions, and, give them a chance…the same chance it gives to male artists.
SES: What can female dj/singers do to improve and increase their visibility on stage and on record?
CD: Be smart and businesslike when dealing with your business…believe in yourself; respect yourself.
SES: Talk about the challenges you face solo after the Wor-a-Girls experience?
CD: After WAG I did not have the backing of a record company or a publishing company so I was pretty much on my own. I also made things difficult for myself by going in a different direction than the group had been in. Just to make it clear, I was not trying to be difficult; I just wanted to do something that felt natural.
SES: List some of the big names in the entertainment business you have had the honor of working with?
CD: I sang back up for Marcia Griffiths in NJ once; I also sang for Beres Hammond and Ken Booth (on a studio recording) when I was still quite young. I have been on tour with Super Cat and Tony Rebel and Buju Banton as well as Freddie McGregor.
SES: You have an advance degree, you teach, sing and are a mother do you ever just have time for Charmaine?
CD: I am trying to make some time now…I am going to be doing music only from now on.
SES: List some of your most significant accomplishments?
CD: Producing my first independent CD, earning my BA and MBA, raising my girls, getting my first record deal, singing on a soundtrack album.
SES: Diana King says the males in the reggae industry are only comfortable with women in subordinate role, do you agree?
CD: I don’t believe that is unique to men in Reggae, but I wouldn’t want to paint everyone with the same brush.
SES: What is, or has been the biggest challenge you have faced as female artist?
CD: Raising children while trying to maintain a music career is the toughest challenge because your career can’t come before your kids.
SES: Why do you think that promoters shy away from booking female artists, if so why?
CD: I can’t honestly say I know that answer. They probably don’t know why either. I think it has been a standard for so long that people don’t challenger institutionalized behaviors.
SES: List your most successful singles or album?
CD: Six Street, We Belong and Rock On are singles of mine that have been well liked.
SES: Do you have difficulty getting air play for your music, if so in what format?
CD: I have had some challenges because I don’t have representation at this time and it has been difficult to wear all the hats that I wear and still pay the kind of close attention required to massage a music career. I am however, committed to changing that.
SES: What are your professional goals as singer?
CD: To be in the Will of God first and foremost and to reach as many people in as many places as it is physically possible with my music.
SES: Do you think you get the respect from the music business consummate with your accomplishment?
CD: Maybe, I am not sure that most people even know the extent of my accomplishments.
SES: Recall your fondest experience or proudest achievement in the entertainment business?
CD: Making the first WAG video was pretty cool. The first Japan Splash tour was great and doing Mike and Matty with Tommy Cowan all provide me with fond memories.
SES: List your worse experience in the music business?
CD: Someone tried to rape me on my first touring experience…I was 17.
SES: You’re a single mother and have two careers, music and teaching, Is it difficult to juggle all three?
CD: Yes, but I have decided to hang up my teaching hat…I might give some lectures here and there but not constantly in the classroom.
SES: Do you own a record label and do produce other artists?
CD: I have a fledgling label, Stoney Hill Music; I will be taking on other artists once I gain some momentum with my own project.
SES: Thank you Charmaine and much continued success.
CD: Thank you, it was my extreme pleasure.
Stan Evan Smith is contributing Editor to Everybody’s Magazine, (NYC) Music critic for the Gleaner/Star NA. Staff writer, Jahwork.org, (California) Westindiantimes.net (Virginia) and Jamaicans. Com (Florida) and, contributing writer to POSH Magazine (Maryland). He can be reached [email protected] ww.myspace.com/stanwsmith. Charmaine in performance Photo Courtesy of Stan E Smith