DJ Rahdu Interview with Cherokee

When I became enamored with nu soul music, I did so largely without any form of musical compass. I had friends that I didnt want to badger with incessant questions about what to buy next or I was forced to rely on suggestions on websites of artists that were “like” ones I already enjoyed. Another game of fate I played as I immersed myself into this music was to blindly purchase Cds in the dollar bins that looked like they might be good. I picked up one such CD, I Love You…Me, was pleasantly surprised, and immediately became of Cherokee’s work only to be left in a void until her next album hit the ‘nets in 2002. Eight years later, I finally catch up with my dollar bin treasure and get to delve into some things Ive always wanted to know about this amazing artist.

How/Where did you start singing?
I’ve been singing all my life. I was a huge MJ/Jackson 5 fan. It all started in BK NY with me standing in front of the mirror with my hairbrush Microphone. I was doing my thang! singing MJ songs at the top of my head and through my nose LOL!  I thought I was the sh*t!
So much that I asked my mother to cut my hair into a afro which she did.

I heard that you were a model as well, is this true?
Yes I have done some modeling in the past and from time to time i do some work for photographers and Artists who paint. I’ve done a few runway shows but not enough to take the title. Where might we have seen you? I’ve done ads for GAP back in the day which had billboards posted all over the country. I have attached a Pic :-) (View HERE) I shot a commercial for that campaign as well.

You released 2 albums under RCA: “I Love You…Me” & “Soul Parade”. The neosoul craze was dominating the musical climate in ’98. Did the label force you to make an album to fit this genre?
Not at all. That came natural. I was always a Soul/RnB artist. I also have a folk and rock side to me that i keep under my hat so that i don’t confuse my fans. I plan on unleashing that one day. I grew up listening to all types of music so i have many different influences.

What were you trying to say or get across with “I Love You…Me”?
Self love is very important. I can love you but I must love myself first!

What were you doing between ‘98 & 2001?
In 98 I was recording “I love you me”…Which came out in 1999. In 2001 i was recording and finishing up “Soul Parade” which never dropped. It was bootlegged on ebay LOL.  It became a underground fan favorite. I can recall a very nice guy who came to a show of mine in CA telling me that he had purchased “Soul Parade” on Ebay for $290.00.  I’m sure someone who worked at the label sold it because their were NO copies of “Soul Parade” ever made.

On :Soul Parade” you worked with 2 very enigmatic figures, the first one being Andre 3000. What was it like working with him pre “Love Below” and pre Green Light before everyone was aware of him being a producer? 
It was a very interesting experience. Andre is an incredible talent. Nectarine was a song that he started writing for TLC. At first i wasn’t too confident that it was my style but i liked it a lot so I finished writing the song with him and recorded it. I knew that we were on to something different. It has such a strong catchy hook. He made me go out of the room when he recorded his vocals. When I recorded my parts,he wanted me to sound southern. LOL! That didn’t work cause i wanted to sound like myself. I’m a true east coast girl. Plus it’s hard to do a natural southern accent. Especially an ATL accent. That song is still ahead of it’s time.

What was it like working on A Woman Knows with Bilal?
FUN FUN and more FUN! Bilal is funny and one of the most amazing talents i have ever worked with! Musiq Soulchild and I wrote the song. Jill Scott sang background. If we would’ve ever made that video, it would have been me and Jill along with Musiq and Bilal. The treatment was HOT!

“I Love You…Me” was strictly Cherokee. Did the label force collaborations with artists on “Soul Parade”?
RCA gave me an open budget which was incredible.

I worked with Jill, Musiq and Bilal before they had ever released a record!  They were part of the new Philly movement. We were all signed and working on our projects. I wanted to collab with new talented artists. I also chose Outkast and Wyclef. I loved working with Clef and his co-producer Jerry but their songs didn’t make the album. None of the collab’s was decided by the label. I had freedom with RCA and they really believed in me as an artist.

[audio:|titles=85.1 cherokee-06-star-rns]
Cherokee – Star from Soul Parade

Philadelphia has always had a strong musical movement. The Roots, Musiq, Bilal, and Jill Scott amongst many others represented the resurgence or continuance of that movement. What was that movement like in the late 90’s?
I was there in 2000 to work on my album Soul Parade. It was crazy fun! The movement was so alive and creative. I believe i was at my most creative in Philly. We were about to enter a brand new decade and i was excited to work with a fresh sound. The industry was wide open. Especially with the neo soul movement still happening around that time. “Soul Parade” was a part of that new Philly sound.
I was working with DJ Jazzy Jeff’s production crew; A Touch Of Jazz. They were on to something new. It was an east coast vibe of course but it was different than New York. Since the days of Gamble and Huff, Philly always had a unique feel to their soul and the artists you mentioned were just continuing the tradition. Carrying the torch as you can say.

A lot of time has passed since “Soul Parade”, which was a great album. Did RCA sever their ties with you or did you leave the label?
The black division shut down and all the black artists were let go except for me,Coco and Tyrese. We were all picked up by different labels within the BMG system. I got stuck with Arista of whom i thought was a great big shinny light that came to save the day. But since they didn’t home grow the record, I don’t think they truly knew who I was as an artist and how to promote it even though LA Reid seemed to be excited about the album. It just didn’t pan out the way I thought it would. At the end of the day it was all politics. They switched the single from Nectarine to I Swear and then gave up when it didn’t catch on fast.

What have you been doing since “Soul Parade”?
After “Soul Parade” I performed a few shows over in Japan and Cali then I buried the mic for about 5 years. I got married to my Soul Mate “Neal Pogue” who is a Mixer/Record Producer. We have a beautiful little girl who is now 6years old. Family is now the most important thing to me. I love being a mother and a wife. In this music game you have only yourself, and your family. Your friends are the ones you grew up with. That’s it! Everyone else comes and goes. If your the next big thing they come and when your not they go :-)  It’s not personal either, it’s just the way it is so you can’t even get upset with them, you just have to shake it off,be a big girl and keep it movin!

Thanks for allowing us to “premier” “So Suga Street” on BamaLoveSoul.Com.
You guys a very welcome. Thank you for having me. I appreciated the support!

[audio:|titles=Cherokee – So Suga Street]
Cherokee – So Suga Street

When can we expect a new album from Cherokee?
Hard to say for sure but i hope sometime in 2011. I’m dropping an ep first then the album. I love the idea of RnB artists dropping mixtapes. So Suga Street is from a mixtape that i want to drop soon. The mixtape is sample heavy.

What’s the name of the album?
“Just a Brooklyn Girl”

Who are you working with on this new album?
New Producers and features. I don’t want to say til it’s final.

What label will it be released on?
My Label for the moment… “CaliBrook Records”

What is your message? What is it that Cherokee is trying to say?
To be honest I don’t have one magic message. I just want people to enjoy my music and be able to relate or take a journey with me to some place new. Every song tells it’s own story. I talk about things that people wanna say but bite there tongue instead. I speak truth. My lyrics are a mirror to all my thoughts, dreams, fantasies, ups, downs, love gained, love lost and sometimes lust.

Can we expect to see any modeling work from you soon?
I sure hope so. An amazing artist named Natalie Fabia painted me as a Geisha Girl for her gallery showing and the painting is selling for $10.000  I also modeled nude for Phillip Dixon’s upcoming photo book of Beautiful women. I am currently looking for that next big campaign to come calling like when I did GAP. I would love to do Adidas :-)

How can your fans get and stay in touch with you?
Through my website. My fans can join my page to be the first to know it all.

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Posted by DJRahdu

  • Great interview, thanks. Had heard of her, but wasn’t too familiar with her work. Some real nice jams.

  • Jazzface

    Always been a fan of Cherokee. I bought her album Soul Parade when it was released, and its still for sale in europe, so I don’t understand the mystery around it?

  • i love cherokee! always been a big fan. was disappointed when soul parade was dropped. so excited about the new stuff though. thankx for this article.