The sultry blues singer has stepped into the spotlight and she has completely immersed herself in the blues industry.
Formerly the lead singer of Diamond Back Blues Band, Charlie started her solo career when she made the decision to take on music full-time. “I just needed to grow musically,” she explains. Charlie says it was her partner her furthered her music career. “It’s because of him that I’m now doing music full-time,” she says. Within a week of being on her own, Charlie had already started booking gigs. “That just inspired me,” she says, adding that she now does at least two gigs a week.
Charlie says that as a solo full-time musician, she is constantly sourcing gigs and working with other artists. Charlie is doing exactly what she was always meant to do. “I’ve always sung,” she says, pointing out that even at school, she was always involved with eisteddfods, choirs and school productions. When she was 15, she started jamming with an all-girl band and in high school she even wrote a stage play. Charlie’s first liv e performance outside of school came when she was in Standard 7, at the Barleycorn Club.
At 17, she was playing with a band called Realm. “We were like this cool, alternative, garage band,” Charlie says. She still sang with the band after school for a while, before she felt the need to move on. “It was mostly a cover band and my passion was more for jazz,” she explains. With that, she started training at Jazz Workshop while improvising with random bands whenever she got the chance. “I started jamming all around town,” Charlie points out, before adding: “And then life happened.” Charlie started working in the film industry and also worked for an ad agency.
She did a brief stint singing house music and also did her fair share of open mic nights. She was in between jobs and waitressing when she was introduced to the Boulevard Blues Band. Since then she has shared a stage with them and other blues legends, like Piet Botha, Dan Patlansky and the Kevin Floyd Band. Charlie says the local blues musicians are like her family and that she is humbled by them. “He’s like my blues father,” she says, referring to Dr John from Boulevard Blues.
In 2009, Charlie co-founded Diamond Back Blues Band and played extensively with the band, before taking on her new challenge earlier this year. When she isn’t using her voice for singing, Charlie also co-hosts a specialist blues radio show on Zone Radio on Monday nights. She is also working on the Bluestown Sessions, which sees local blues artist on stage at Mercury. The idea behind it is to see different bands and different musicians playing together. And then, when the stage lights go off, Charlie is an administrator for the South African Blues Forum. Charlie will be launching her acoustic blues album at various venues over the next few weeks.
She will be at Viper Lounge in Table View on Saturday 8 October and at Die Boer in Durbanville on Tuesday 18 October. In between these performances, Charlie will head to Durban on 1 October, to perform at the International Blues Festival.