Moore Than Before - A 2013 Interview with Chante Moore!

by Darnell Meyers-Johnson

(Phone interview recorded on February 19, 2013.)

Like Mariah Carey, who made her record debut only two years before, Chante Moore’s vocal range has been celebrated and discussed since her arrival on the music scene in 1992. 

It has adorned seven albums, including two with ex-husband Kenny Lattimore.  An eighth project is due in April and Chante’s beautiful voice and presence will be seen on TVOne’s spin-off reality series, “R&B Divas: LA”, set to debut in June.

Chante reveals why she decided to venture into reality television and what fans can expect of her upcoming album, MOORE IS MORE.  

She also reflects on the past as she reveals her thoughts to Darnell Meyers-Johnson about her public relationship and quiet divorce from Lattimore…

Good Day!  This is Darnell Meyers-Johnson for The Meyers Music Report on Tumblr.com.  Today I’m speaking with a songstress we haven’t heard from in a few years, at least not on record.  She first wowed us on her debut album PRECIOUS in 1992.  Since then she’s released six other albums and has given us hits like “Love’s Taken Over”, “Chante’s Got A Man” and “Old School Lovin’”.

She is set to release her eighth album in April and was recently announced to be one of television’s new R&B divas.

Today I am speaking with Miss Chante Moore.

DMJ: How are you Chante?

CM: I’m doing great sir.  How are you Darnell?

DMJ: I am good.  Let me first say thanks for taking time out to do this today.  We do appreciate it.

CM: Oh it’s my pleasure.  Thank you for having me.  That’s pretty cool.

DMJ: And also, happy belated birthday.

CM: Thank you!

DMJ: It seems like this year is going to be an exciting one for you.  You have a lot of things lined up: the new album, that I want to talk about in just a moment.  And also TVOne just announced you’re going to be a part of their spin-off show “R&B Divas: LA”.  When were you approached about doing the show?

CM: Maybe a couple of months ago.  Not too long ago.  Maybe two or three months ago.  We had a meeting.  Maybe it was a little longer than that.  It’s taken a while for it to come about.  They knew when they were shooting for.  They knew it would be in the new year so we weren’t in a real hurry when I spoke with them last year.  I was real excited when they called about it.  It’s pretty exciting but a little strange to think about me on reality TV because I’m very, very straight forward.  I shoot straight, no chaser.  So it’s going to be rather interesting to see what unfolds.  

DMJ: Why did you decide to do the show?  Because reality shows can sometimes be very invasive when it comes to your personal life.  Do you have any concerns at all about that?

CM: No.  Actually, they’ve been very understanding about my desire not to have my children involved day-to-day.  And I appreciate the way they’re approaching it.  My daughter is 16 so she will be on the show occasionally because I don’t mind.  She’s a big girl.  But my son (9-year-old Kenny Lattimore, Jr.), I don’t think you’ll see him.  So it’s ok.  They seem to not want sensationalism.

DMJ: And I take it filming has already started…?

CM: It’s starting tonight.  Your timing is perfect on asking that question because tonight is the first night of filming.  We’re going to a club here in Los Angeles and we’re going to sing and hang out with each other for the first time.  So it should be pretty exciting.  

DMJ: I know you’ve worked with some of the other people before, but do you have any close friendships with any of the other cast members?

CM: Kelly Price and I are pretty good friends.  We don’t talk on a day-to-day basis, but we definitely are friends.  And Lil Mo who is also on the show wrote “Straight Up” for me from my second album…?  I think it’s my second album or my third, I’m not sure.  Either way, she wrote “Straight Up” for me, so we knew each other as well.  {Editorial Note: “Straight Up” was the lead single from Chante’s fourth album EXPOSED.}  

I’m acquainted with Dawn Robinson as well.  I’ve seen her a few times.  I actually was going to be a member of En Vogue at some point.  We were trying to figure out how I could step in and help with being one of the third or fourth girls in En Vogue.  That didn’t work out but we met each other a few times because of that.  I also know Michel’le.  We did a show together this past New Year’s eve, so we recently saw each other.  The young lady who I didn’t know very well, who I don’t know at all, I never met but I know of her, is Claudett Ortiz.  I’m looking forward to getting to know her.  She’s a sweetheart.  

DMJ: It should be an exciting season with you guys.  A lot of different personalities there from what I understand.

CM: Yup.  We all seem to be Type-A personalities, so we should be alright.  

DMJ: We know music is a huge part of your life.  It’s what you do so well.  How would you describe yourself when you’re not in the studio or on stage, away from the work?

CM: Well, what would I say about myself?  I’m pretty easy-going.  I don’t mean easy as in calm; I just mean I’m pretty easy to get along with.  I’m adventurous, but I’m not a busy body.  I love the Lord, so I’ll be at church.  I’m with my children every day.  When they’re not with their fathers, they’re with me.  So I live a pretty…I would say, simple life but not,  because once I finish being “Mommy” I get on stage with a glitter sequined dress on so it’s not as simple as far as that is.  But I know that who I am on stage is who I am off stage because I sing about my life, except without the glitter.  

DMJ: Like many singers you started in church and you weren’t allowed to listen to secular music.  How did that influence you?

CM: What I’ve always loved is that I never knew what I was missing.  I didn’t feel like, “Oh that song is on the radio and I can’t listen to it.”  I loved listening to gospel music growing up.  It was my passion.  It was what I enjoyed.  I loved to sing so I didn’t care if it was…what was it at the time, “Shake Your Booty”?  I didn’t care what was out.  I didn’t care because I got to listen to Edwin Hawkins and Walter Hawkins and Andre Crouch and Tramaine Hawkins and they sang with such soul and such purpose.  And I think that helped me be the artist that I am because I don’t sing stuff I don’t believe in.  And I think that comes from coming from a family of faith, that everything we sing, every time we go somewhere, we do what we know is right.  That gut instinct, that God in us, is the reason why I do things with integrity.  So I don’t feel bad about it all.

DMJ: You mentioned in some previous interviews that even though your family was involved in music and very musical in their own right, you were seen as the least talented among them.  At which point did you decide to pursue music as a career?

CM: Well yeah, they did tell me to shut up as a kid.  They regret that now!!  But actually, that gave me good preparation for criticism in the world.  Because everybody’s not going to like you.  Everybody’s not going to say, “Oh you’re so wonderful.  Oh your voice is just like an angel’s.”  It doesn’t happen like that.  They said it with love, and I believed that they were telling me the truth, but I just didn’t care.  I wanted to sing because it’s what I loved to do.  I didn’t care if they thought it sounded good.  I just enjoyed it.  I sang and danced around the house ALL the time.  So that was just what it was going to be.  

When I was 16 this lady asked me to be in a stage production of “The Wiz” and she asked me to be Dorothy.  And I just thought she had mixed me up with my sister because my sister is the one who would sing live and in church in our choir.  People loved her voice.  I really thought she meant her; I thought she made a mistake.  I was like, “Oh no, no, no, you’re talking about my older sister.”  And she said, “No, I know exactly who I’m talking to and I know exactly who I’m asking to do this.”  So I was like, “For real!  Me?”  OK, well, shoot, I was never one to be shy.  I was never intimidated by challenges.  So I was like, “Fine, sure, I’ll try it.”  So I did and in the middle of one of the rehearsals I was singing “Home” and my mother and my sister looked at each other and they hit each other on their arms like, “Uhh, look at Chante!  Oh my God!  When did you learn how to sing, girl?”  I was like, “Uhh, I can sing? Awesome!!”  That was the first time they ever told me I could sing and I was just sooo excited.  And when I performed that song the first night, because we did the show two or three nights in a row, the people applauded and they stood up and clapped some more, I was like, “Uhhh, I could do this forever!”  So that’s when I got bitten with the bug of wanting to sing and not just be seen.  I wanted to make my family laugh and giggle and so I always was being silly.  I was their little dancing monkey, as I called myself.  I was just the goofball, whatever they wanted me to do, whatever would make them laugh, that’s what I was doing, whether it be standing on my head or dancing goofy or telling them a joke or whatever.  My job was to keep everybody laughing and that’s still my job.  

DMJ: Your debut album PRECIOUS, remains just that to so many of your fans.  How did you come into that initial deal?

CM: A man name Fred Moultrie who managed El DeBarge became a friend of mine as well and he became my manager.  We sent out our demo tapes to the record companies, about three or four of them and we had meetings with them.  And one of those people I met with was Louil Silas and he was president of a&r at MCA Records.  He met with me that day and honestly, he surprised me because I had never heard about people meeting the record executives and them wanting to sign them that day.  I didn’t know anything about that kind of stuff and I met him that day and he was like, “That’s it.  I want you.  Please sign with me.”  And I was like, “Wow!”  He said, “You’re what we’ve been looking for.  You’re beautiful, you’re talented, you’re smart.  I love you.  This is where you need to be.”  We were like, “Ok, ok, but we can’t decide today.  We do have other people to meet with.”  And we did meet with a couple of other record companies, but having somebody be for you, really just for you and excited about you and not just, “Ehh, we’ll see what we can do, maybe, I don’t know.”  It was beautiful to have somebody who cares for you and thinks that you’re what they need.  That’s always a great position to be in.  If you’re in the needy position, you don’t always get the best deal.  

So that was how it began, with Louil Silas.  He signed me to MCA Records and then he was given an opportunity to have Silas Records, named after himself of course, and he asked me to be the initial release on his label and I said yes.  I came out in 1992 on Silas Records.  I was their debut artist.  

DMJ: And it seemed in the early part of your career that your music might lean a little more towards jazz, but you ended up doing some drastically different things.  Which genre of music do you feel most comfortable singing?

CM: I’m comfortable singing all of it.  I think what people like to hear best, whether it be a jazz kind of song or a R&B song, they like to hear slower music.  I think it’s because you can hear my voice better, the tone of my voice or what I’m saying.  I don’t get lost in the music when the music is a little softer.  I think that’s where I excel.  So I think that’s what I like most, having a song where you can tell a story and hear the lyrics and hear the breath in and out.  I think those things connect people to my music.  But I’m very energetic so I can’t have these songs that just lay around.  They’re wonderful but I gotta have a little energy.  

DMJ: One of your most known songs is from your third album, THIS MOMENT IS MINE.  What do you recall about the making of “Chante’s Got A Man”?

CM: I was in the studio with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.  They are amazing producers and people.  They called it my “ghetto” song.  I had written the lyrics, most of it if not all of it before I came because I had friends, literally, who were saying, “Girl, my man is trippin’.  I don’t know what’s wrong with him.  He’s this, he’s that, he’s running around and cheating on me and doing these things.”  And then another girl was like, “My boyfriend just hit me.  I hate him.  I can’t believe he hit me.”  And so literally that song was written as a true story that my friends were having issues!  And I was so upset for them, that they weren’t having the kind of relationship that I was.  I was very much in love with Kadeem Hardison and very, very happy.  I was like, “Sorry, but you know if I found a good man, surely you can find a good man too.  If I got a man, you can have one too.  Just don’t settle for less.”  And that’s how it came about.

DMJ: On your fourth album EXPOSED, you gained quite a bit of criticism for the song “Bitter”, which repeatedly used the N-word.  What are your thoughts about that song now, 13 years later?

CM: (Laughs) The criticism I got, you can put that and I got twice as much people saying compliments, because if it wasn’t for you, then it wasn’t for you.  It was for me!  It was very therapeutic.  That song, literally again, in the moment was happening.  Somebody was calling me and the guy was bugging the hair off my head.  And we were writing this beautiful song.  (Sings melody)  So when the phone rang, I just started singing, “Stop ringing my phone…you-know-what-I-said.”  I don’t regret it at all.  It was a moment.  I put it on the record and if you didn’t like it, you could skip the record.  But more than anything it was therapeutic for the moment.  It wasn’t specifically about Kadeem.  Honestly, it was about somebody who was calling me and kind of weirding me out.  

But I understand people don’t want to use that word.  And I wouldn’t use it inappropriately nor call anyone that in a negative way.  But I AM from the ghetto, I’m sorry.  I just am.  And that word does not offend me at all.  I don’t use it all the time, but I use it when I feel like it works.  Sometimes, people who are not Black, and I go, “Ooooh, they’re acting like one.”  To me, just being ignorant.  But then, sometimes it’s like, “Shoot, that’s my boy, that’s my…you know.”  And there goes that word.  So I understand, nobody’s going to like everything you write.  No one is going to like every song, everything you do, everything you say, but if that’s the worst they can say about me is that I said the N-word and put it in a real pretty song, then ok.

DMJ: It was a real pretty song.

CM:  It is a real pretty song!

DMJ: And I think that was the thing that caught people off guard, it was unexpected from you especially in this beautiful song and then there it is!

CM: Yeah, and what I liked about it as well was the laughter that’s at the end.  It was honest and true.  It came out at that moment and it made me laugh.  It was such a release like, “I can’t believe I even just sang this song.”  And I sang it only one time in the studio.  That was it.

DMJ: After your marriage to Kenny Lattimore, it seemed like your career became part of a packaged deal.  The two of you made albums together, you did shows together, you did interviews together.  In retrospect, was it a good choice to merge your professional lives so strongly?

CM: Yes, I believe it was.  When you’re married to somebody you really have to do everything possible to make it work.  We both know from being in the industry prior to marriage to each other, travel can take a whole lot out of you.  And if you’re not around the person you’re married to, it kind of hurts your marriage a little bit there!  So it was a good thing for us.  We enjoyed it; people seemed to enjoy it.  Certainly, people wanted to hear individual songs as well, which we tried to give them also.  But I don’t regret that at all.  I don’t live a life full of regrets.  I just don’t do it!  Certainly, we did well.  We did a tour, or three.  We did a play.  We had a beautiful baby boy, who is now 9.  And so, it is what it is.  We made great music.  I grew a lot as a person. I learned a lot about myself.  And yeah, don’t look back, don’t worry.  You can’t change the past.  You really can’t.  It is what it is.

DMJ: Or was what it was.

CM: It IS over so that is what it is.

DMJ: Well, exactly, there you go.  Your relationship with Kenny Lattimore, because you guys were married, in love, singing about love, talking about love…a lot of people held that relationship dear and thought that you guys were a great symbol of strong, Black love.  

CM: Absolutely.

DMJ: And then very quietly you divorced and you issued that brief statement on Facebook.  Needless to say, the fans were shocked.  What can you share with them now about that relationship?

CM: Well, uh, it was good while it lasted.  I think you can only do what you can do.  When you’re in a relationship, it’s about giving your all.  I’m not big on public ordeals, period.  My career is the only thing I announce with vigor.  Anything else is not necessary.  I love it that people were inspired by our relationship.  I am grateful that they cared enough to wish us the best and pray for us and keep us in their eyes and revered in some way as role models because of our relationship, but I really understand that when you’re in a relationship it’s about you and that person and that’s it!  You can’t do anything else for anybody else.  Though I did want it to work, and it didn’t, it lasted as long as it was supposed to.  You can’t live your life for other people, no matter what.  And if you try to do that you’re going to be sadly disappointed in the response you get from the people that YOU think you’re giving your life to.  Even though we shared part of our relationship because of the music with the world, I don’t owe them in a way that I feel responsible to stay with someone when I’m not going to want to stay.  But we’re going to parent our son and do the best that we can do to move forward, and we have.  Really, that’s all.  I don’t feel the need to explain why we’re not together.  There’s some stuff that’s not going to ever be said.  Our son is old enough to get on the internet and see what he sees and I will never be quoted for saying anything negative about his dad.  And I hope that he would do the same and never say anything negative about me, but if he does that’s ok because people talk about you all day long.  They say, worry when people don’t say anything about you at all.  I can handle that but I’m not going to play a part of it.  But what I say about it now is that musically, there’s stuff in this new album, my heart is in the new album and what I’ve been through is in the record.  And there are things that I would never ever, ever talk about that I will sing about.  So check the record out if you really want to know what happened. 

DMJ: That brings me right to my next question.  It’s been five years since your last album.  We’ve been patiently waiting.  What can we expect on the upcoming release?

CM: Honestly, I just said it.  Seriously, it’s my life.  And it IS the things that I will not talk about.  But I have a lot to say about what I have gone through and who I am as a woman.  Every album I’ve made has always been a reflection of where I am that moment, making the record.  When PRECIOUS came out, that was all what was on my mind, all of those songs.   And now with the latest album that I’m making, MOORE IS MORE, the songs on this record I’ve written or co-written all of them so it is definitely who I am.  So check it out if you want to know about me.

DMJ: Is the album going to be more uptempo or more ballads?

CM: What’s funny is, this record came about we know because of who I am as an artist.  It’s easy for me to find mellow music.  Lyrically, I’m usually the one who pens the songs.  I usually find music and then I write to it.  So that’s what happened this time as well, but we looked for uptempo music first this time because it’s so easy to find the mellow.  And we found some songs that I’m just so excited about because I have so much fun recording.  I say it all the time but honestly, one of my favorite things to do is record new music.  So we have a lot of uptempo, but just as many mellow songs and you know, romantic things.  But they came last.  It might even be more uptempo heavy than mellow.  I just don’t know.  We have a couple of songs we’re debating on, whether we should go this way or that with the recording so….  I like it a lot though.

DMJ: We were really excited to hear that you were linking up with Shanachie because we understand that they allow the artists a lot of creative freedom.  Has that been the case with you?

CM: Absolutely and being that I’ve been in the industry as long as I have, I wasn’t going to be anywhere that wouldn’t allow me to have creative freedom so I’m really pleased.  They weren’t just nonexistent with their desire for particular kinds of songs.  They were like, “Well, we want this kind over here or how about one over there like that,” you know.  And I can understand that.  They know their target listeners.  But I also let them know, I have to be me so if you’re not going to let me be me then maybe this isn’t the best partnership.  We worked through it and talked out a whole lot of things we both have in mind, because I’m very sure about what I’m doing.  And if the world doesn’t like it, that’s not my intention, but I’m very sure about who I am now more than ever.

DMJ: And before we go, I understand you’ve been touring with some other great ladies of R&B.

CM: Oh yes, we’re doing show dates.  Actually, Kelly Price is one of those people.  Kelly Price, Regina Belle and Shirley Murdock.  We’re going to be performing a lot of shows actually, but we haven’t gone out yet either.  There was one planned for this weekend so it will be our first time out together on stage.  It’ll be a lot of fun, with Shirley Murdock and Kelly Price alone.

DMJ: And Regina Belle, I had the opportunity to interview her.  She’s very down to earth.  That’s exciting that you’re all doing your thing together.  

Before we go, people would kill me dead if I didn’t ask you about your vocal range.  I’m really not a technical guy in that way.  I just like what I like.  But for the record, how many octaves is your range?

CM: You know, what’s funny is I did a show this past weekend with Kirk Whalum and there’s been so many people….somebody told me I had 8, somebody told me I had 9, somebody told me I had only 4.  I asked Kirk Whalum this weekend, “How many did you count?”  And he said at least 7.  So we’ll say seven right now since that’s my favorite number and cause Kirk Whalum just said so.

DMJ: That’s right!  And he know what he’s talking about.  

CM: Yeah, cause I don’t know how to count it, but there it is.  I’m like, “OK, you do, so how many did you just count?”  And he said, “Oh you can go at least seven.”  

DMJ: And hitting that world-famous whistle note, it is a technical skill?  Can anybody learn it?  Can I do it?  

CM: You know, the whole thing about it is trying to explain how to reach it.  I don’t know how to explain getting to it.  So, no, I think it’s a gift.  I think.  I don’t know how to explain how to do it.  If I did, I’d be making a lot of money because everyone asks me about it, I will tell you that.  But I don’t know how to explain how to do it.  It was just something I knew how to do.

DMJ: When did you first discover that you had that flexibility in your voice?

CM: I was singing around the house doing stuff, because I love to sing, and there was a note I wanted to reach but I didn’t want to reach it really loudly.  I don’t remember why but I didn’t want to be loud.  For some reason, I kind of held it in and sang it out at the same time and it came out like that and I was like, “C’mon, let’s do some more!”  And that was it.

DMJ: The upcoming album is called MOORE IS MORE.  It comes out on April 23.  Before you go Chante, please remind everyone how they can stay updated with you online.

CM: Go to @Iamchantemoore on Twitter and if you get me on Facebook, again it’s “Chante Moore” but there’s a fan page now, which doesn’t make any sense to me why they would do that to people just because you have more than 5,000 listeners.  That doesn’t make them a “fan”, it’s a friend.  People have friends.  But anyway, go there because it is me when I text or email or answer your questions and things like that.  It’s definitely me.  Other than that right now, that’s it.  I’m going to get my website going because so much is happening right now.  I haven’t been able to focus on it just yet, but I’m going to.  Please keep in touch with me.  From day-to-day I try to Twitter…Tweet?…Twit?  (Laughs)  I try to keep on Twitter as much as I can because it’s very easy via the telephone.  So keep close.

DMJ: We discussed a lot today but is there anything you would like to mention that we haven’t talked about?

CM: No, I think you’re pretty thorough.  

DMJ: Alright.  Well, Chante Moore, once again thank you so much for your time.  Anytime you want to share what you’re doing our doors at The Meyers Music Report are open.  Feel free to come through and let us know.  Best of luck when the album comes out.  We’re all looking forward to that.  Again, it’s April 23, MOORE IS MORE.  Chante Moore, thank you so much.

CM: Thank you very much.  I’ll speak with you again soon.

DMJ: OK, take care.  Be Blessed!

CM: Bye.

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