By Vee Manzerolle
With our world being in a flux of change, it seems only appropriate for newcomer Chanj to entitle his debut disc, Time For Chanj. The Alistair Records recording artist classifies his sound as an R&B soul mix. This powerful sound comes from a passion for music that dictates his very own sound within the industry. He attributes some of that sound to multiple renowned artists he listened to while growing up in New Jersey.
“I listened to a lot of Sam Cooke, Al Green, Luther Vandross, D'Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Anita Baker, and Toni Braxton. It was a lot of different people that influenced me growing up. I listened to a lot of different rock musicians such as Queen… and even Bjork. Anybody that intrigued me I was listening too,” he recalls.
Chanj gives credit for his performance style to those very artists admitting, “you’ll really see those spirits of legends come out in my stage performance.” Chanj may look towards those artists for guidance and inspiration but legends themselves are flocking to Chanj as well. As a prior “Amateur Night” contestant on Showtime at the Apollo, he managed to wow a critical and often not so receptive audience that won him the challenge not once but four times.
“The experience was amazing. You know it was very nerve racking. The Apollo is a serious competition where people come to be judged so it was very nerve racking on that level. It was a challenge, it was very victorious, and it allowed me to understand that I can win over anybody if I put my mind to it because I was about to win a championship over a very tough crowd,” he recalls.
With such a warm reception from a notoriously tough crowd it’s no wonder that he’s winning over those within the industry. From veteran music executive Darnell Scott and his partner Alistair Records co-founder Warren Braithwaite to former Floetry vocalist Marsha Ambrosius who was impressed with Chanj’s performance of Floetry’s track “Say Yes.”
Ambrosius worked alongside Chanj in the studio on the track, “Give It All” that can be found on his debut disc, Time For Chanj. One of Chanj’s more memorable moments thus far in his career occurred while recording the previously mentioned track.
“I was in the studio with Marsha Ambrosius and you know I was singing her song at the Apollo that she had wrote, 'Say Yes', and it was funny because she stops us while I’m recording and she goes 'hold on I just need to take a second' she’s like 'I am literally in the studio with a guy who sang my song, tore my song up at the Apollo, and I’m sitting here in the studio with him telling him how to sing this song that I just wrote for him' she’s like 'I’m a little off right now I’m gonna need a second' and she literally walked out of the studio, she comes back with a cup of water and she kind of fans herself and then she goes 'OK I’m ready.' So it was really incredible because I’m sitting there the whole entire time going 'OK do not crack because this is one of the people you look up too' and then she’s awe struck by me so that threw me off so it was a funny experience.”
Chanj is far from being oblivious of the gift he has been given. He acknowledges that everyday in the music business is a blessing, a reality that seems too good to be true. With the collaborative power of creative minds, Time for Chanj, is an album created for all ages.
As a listener you’ll hear no talk about cars or jewellery or any other fad. The people Chanj surrounds himself with keeps his musical direction clear and within reach.
“It’s funny cause when I find myself in the studio with people that I’ve looked up too it’s kind of like this weird reality. I sit there and literally almost have to pinch myself to be like is this really happening? But it’s amazing, I find it all a blessing and just the people I’ve been in front of and the legends I’ve been in front of and the legends that have come up to me and told me that you know that I have the spirit of what music use to be and that I could possibly change this thing and bring it back to where it was before. It’s an amazing feeling to hear legends say that, it allows me to know that I am in the right place and I’m going in the right direction.”
Despite such powerful compliments by those he admires, Chanj makes a conscious effort to remain humble. He believes in keeping his private life private while still being able to do what he loves to do - to perform and make timeless music.
Check out a rare video of a live Chanj performance at the Apollo: