Chelsea Stewart, Canada’s youngest ever JUNO-award nominee in the Reggae category, has just dropped her latest LP. On the heels of her earth-shaking album Genesis, this new self-titled album comes in hot with “Forever Your Girl”:
The album was mostly recorded in Jamaica, and features production influence from Grammy Award-winning artists Sly and Robbie, as well as songwriting influence from Renee Brown. With nyabinghi drumming, dub poetry, mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae, and dancehall–consider this album your musical history lesson for the year.
We chatted with Chelsea this week.
SDTC: What holiday tradition do you like to keep in your own home?
CS: When I was a child, my Mom used to make a big deal about Christmas including getting a tree, and putting multiple gifts under it. This was all very exciting for me as an only child, but as I got older, I started to place more value in spending quality time with family. So now, that’s the only goal during the holidays.
What is commanding a lot of attention in your life lately?
The release and promotion of my debut self-titled album is taking all of my attention at the moment. I recently premiered the first music video on YouTube for the single ‘Forever Your Girl’, and it was incredibly exciting. It’s my second music video ever, I’m very proud of it, and people seem to like it as it already has 4,000 views in only four days!
What have you learned about yourself in the past year?
I have learned than when you plan ahead in terms of life goals, it makes the process easier to act on and more achievable. When things are written down, you’re able to hold yourself accountable for all that you’ve planned to do. I list daily, weekly and monthly goals that will help me to achieve my annual goals. This way, New Years resolutions don’t get forgotten after February starts.
What is a fun, little-known fact about you?
I am a creator of all sorts. Although my career is based in music as a singer/songwriter, I also enjoy knitting. I’ve dabbled in sewing, carpentry, baking, jewelry making, and even taken a course on graphic design. I did the album artwork for my last EP, along with the graphics for the promotion of my solo show (including flyers, posters, banners, and backdrop).
What book have you connected with recently, and what about it appeals to you?
My favorite book at the moment is The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma, because it’s like a self-help book in the form of fiction. I like books that captivate readers either through a story, humor, or just great gems that are quotable; like the novel ‘The Alchemist’. The narrative of “if you believe it, you can achieve it” is the perfect theme for independent artists like myself.
What is your motto at the moment?
As mentioned earlier: If you believe it, you can achieve it. In other words, you have the power to attract anything you want in life.
What was happening in your life when you were writing the songs for your new album?
The songs for this album were written by three women including myself, Karen Stewart (my Mom), and Renee Brown (a friend), and we all wrote these songs years ago. Some of us were falling in or out of love with ourselves, others, our surroundings, and even nature. Sometimes we were wondering if we made the right life choices, or simply where to go out with friends to dance the stresses of life away.
What are the qualities you like least and most about yourself?
I’m a Taurus so we can be both hardworking and lazy. I’ve come to learn that what that means is that when it’s time to work, we put our all in creating the best outcome. And when the time comes for us to rest, we can easily work as hard at not doing anything at all. Self care is key to maintaining the best mental and physical health and we can neglect ourselves in the pursuit of greatness.
Rewind five years. What advice would you give yourself?
Keep it up, your work will not be in vain.
What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
That would have to be facing my fears of speaking to strangers via introducing them to my music daily. I have sold 28 thousand copies of my original music simply because of the fact that I have turned my music promotion into a 9-to-5. I’m a shy person by nature, so this has forced me to come out of my shell, and increase the awareness for myself as an artist nationally and internationally (I’ve done self-promo on tour as well).
What childhood memory makes you laugh out loud?
The fact that in elementary school I was not shy at all, so I would go around the playground handing out actual tickets (the kind you’d use for a raffle) to other kids and let them know that my friends and I would be putting on a show that day. I aspire to be as fearless as that outgoing child.
What unnecessary object would you love to own?
Something I’ve always wanted is a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. My Grandma has had one in her kitchen for as long as I’ve been alive, and even longer. Like her, I enjoy baking although I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like to. My Grand-Aunt has one with a dough hook attachment that results in easy homemade bread making.
What tip, technique or hack has made your life better in the past year?
I have made an effort to list the things and/or people that I’m grateful for daily, which makes the start to each day full of gratitude and better overall, no matter what life throws your way. I always recommend this for people who might be depressed or feel as if they haven’t accomplished what they’ve wanted to do in life. It helps to put things into perspective, and to proceed one step/day at a time.
What issue do you wish people took more seriously?
I wish people cared more about the environment. Something as simple as holding on to your garbage until you find a bin to avoid littering. We only have one planet to live, and we need to keep it clean for ourselves, our [future] children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I talk about this on my song ‘Mama Nature’ on my album.
What outfit makes you feel the most you?
Every day is a new role to play via my wardrobe. Some days I dress up as movie star (red carpet included), or as an athlete while sporting athleisure wear (whether at the gym or not), or rock what is perceived to be a studious look with non-prescription glasses, plaid skirt and all. Or an introspective artist all black look with combat boots. And every now and then I wear a cute androgynous outfit inspired by menswear.
Who/what has surprised you lately, and how?
I’ve been surprised by people’s actions lately, but I’ve learned that with time people always reveal their true colors.
How will you spend the holidays this year?
I will be spending the holidays in Africa! I’m currently on an African tour performing in countries like South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Botswana! My Mom is my tour manager so I still get to be with family during the holidays. It’s our first time on this continent, and we are enjoying every minute of it (especially the lack of snow)!