Back on island after two months performing alongside reggae heavyweights, recording tracks for her debut album and charming the Jamaican press, soprano Marie-Claire Giraud feels very accomplished and is excited about the journey ahead.
The Dominica-based, Italian-trained Opera singer’s first performance was at the last of the JARIA Reggae Month concert series at Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts, on February 23rd. On International Women’s Day she shared the stage with an all-female lineup at WOMANBITION. She had two performances at the Jamaica Pegasus-first for the launch of Western Consciousness and then for the charity brunch Hats on to Easter. marie-claire sang at The Actor Boy Awards, Empress Menen Birthday and Award Ceremony, Jazz and More at Edna Manley, Plug and Play at the Wyndham Hotel’s Jonkanoo Lounge, Othodox Isachar’s album launch and the Wicky Wacky monthly event at Bull Bay.
At the annual Western Consciousness music festival, she performed between D’Angel and Freddie McGregor, at what some in the industry may call ‘star hour’. She was backed by the Dubtonic Kru, recently voted the World’s Best Band. Between all her performances she shared the stage with artists like Lutan Fyah, Bounty Killa, Bushman, Queen Ifrica, Sizzla, Tony Rebel, Tanya Stephens, Alaine, Nadine Sutherland and many other notable Reggae acts. One act in particular had special meaning. Says the singer, “I was very humbled to have the great Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith (who has performed with the likes of Bob Marley and Dennis Brown) back me up on guitar at my Wicky Wacky performance; alongside my drummer Tony Coles.”
She has received glowing reviews about her performances; in fact, the managers at Wyndham were so impressed by her set; she was invited to perform at the hotel’s customer appreciation party days later. To date, Marie-Claire has recorded five songs for her dreamland project album: “constellation”, written by Bob Andy; “charcoal”, written by marie-claire herself; and cover versions of “dreamland” (the title track), “summertime” and “rastaman chant” featuring Spraggz Benz. The veteran Dancehall Deejay, who describes Marie-Claire’s voice as “phenomenal”, is rather enthused about the project.
Apart from Paul Bailey’s contribution to the “dreamland” track, all tracks and vocals were recorded at Champagne International Studios by in-house producer Dre (Tenament Yard). Marie-Claire adds, “I am really lucky to work with Dre, who is a very sought after producer , musical director and vocalist. He tours with bands like Morgan Heritage and made a great effort to work around my schedule.”
Apart from her time on stage and in the studio, Marie-Claire was a part of the vibrant Jamaican social scene, making appearances at several events including the EME Awards, Live on the Waterfront Music Festival in Montego Bay and several Jazz and live events throughout the capital. She also secured endorsements from Cinderella Hats and Spokes fashion house. Marie-Claire also made time for her charitable efforts by visiting the Mustard Seed Home and sharing her time with the residents who are sexually abused and/or pregnant teen girls.
Marie-claire was featured in news clips on TVJ’s Entertainment Prime, and CVM TV’s On Stage. She also had interviews on RJR Radio, BESS FM and Roots FM. Her biggest press endorsement came in a feature in the Jamaica Observer on Sunday April 17th.
She has many persons to thank for the success of this trip starting with her mother and inspiration Joyce Buffong-Giraud. Marie-Claire extends special thanks to Director of the Small Business Support Unit (SBSU) Vincent Etienne; Hon. John Colin McIntyre Minister for Employment Trade, Industry and Diaspora Affairs; and Hon. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Minister for Finance, Foreign Affairs and Information Technology for the Unit’s financial contribution. The local private sector played a key role in providing funds and in-kind support as well. Special thanks to Mr. Philip Nassief, Mr.Gregor Nassief, Mrs. Janice Amour, Mr. Jean-Yves Bonaire, Mr. Olivier Bellemare, Screws Spa, Ms. Ayeola George, Mr. Curtis Tonge, Mr. and Mrs. Angus Edwards, Mrs. Elaine Pringle, Ms. Roseanne Pringle, Ms. Laura Williams and Mr. Keenan Adams. Mrs. Neva Shillingford and Mrs. Alex Mahan lent help from the United States.
Special thanks to local media especially DJs Steven Dangleben and Brenton Henry who have wholeheartedly supported Marie-Claire’s music and have her songs on constant rotation. To the Jamaican people and media who extended the warmest of welcomes to Marie-Claire and everyone who contributed in one way or another to ensure the success of the trip, a hearty “Thank You!”
Dominicans can get a preview of the album at a soon-to-be announced listening party. marie-claire expects to unwind and rejuvenate in the nature isle for one month before going back to Kingston mid-June to complete the dreamland project.