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Seattle, Washington, United States

Seattle, Washington, United States
Band Hip Hop Soul


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"Soulster Choklate gives Seattle a whirl"

Soulster Choklate gives Seattle a whirl

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Choklate has a CD-release show at 9 p.m. Saturday at Chop Suey.

Is it all just about rock, with a few dashes of hip-hop — or does Seattle have soul, real soul?

Hip-hop often has elements of soul music, manipulating old R&B beats, and often with a singer doing background under the raps ... but true soul, honest-to-goodness soul, is much harder to find.

Look hard enough, though, and you will.

Felicia Loud has soul, as evidenced by her sizzling debut two years back; her second album is eagerly anticipated.

And now comes Choklate, a recent, wonderful injection into the Seattle scene. She takes a long, leisurely soul stroll on her new, self-titled album.

Many move from Seattle to Los Angeles, looking to make it big; Choklate headed in the opposite direction. In an e-mail exchange, Choklate explains she "moved to Seattle because I'd grown up in San Diego and after high school I couldn't keep a daggone job and all of my close friends starting spitting out kids ... so I ran toward the hills ... Seattle."

The move also flipped a switch for her musical career. Her seeped-in-the-'70s first album is a dazzling disc, with standout tracks like "Getting Good Grown":

"Things ain't the way they was back in the day

I had to learn some of the game on my own"

Some songs have hip-hop-esque lyrics, but delivered in a soft, even mournful, voice. By contrast, the deep-as-a-barrel Chali2na from Jurassic 5 pays a visit on "Waitin'," a sizzling track that has "play this on the radio" written all over it. That cut was produced by Vitamin D, who was behind several other titles on the album, and is credited as executive producer.

The big question: Will rock-dominated Seattle keep Choklate from melting?

Choklate wrote that she hasn't thought much about her place in this place:

"I haven't really analyzed whether the rock scene has been open to me. I haven't even really paid attention. I didn't know that I had a voice 5 years ago. ... And then one day I was at my brother's studio where they were recording some music and needed another verse on a song, and I'd just gotten into a pretty bad accident, where I'd had my face cut and lost my job and a buncha crap, and they asked me to rap about it and I did, and when I stepped out of the booth all eyebrows were raised. Mine included.

"So about the rock scene? All I've ever known is hustle and survival. I've never had much time to figure out who is or isn't accepting or open to me. I would hope they would be, though. Seattle needs some soul." - Seattle Times

"Choklate adds a sweet vibe to our post-grunge sound"

By Tom Scanlon

Seattle Times staff reporter

Choklate's an unusual talent — in a good way.
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Choklate's an unusual talent — in a good way.


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Guide to holiday entertainment in the Seattle area

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Hear Choklate at; the Hands at

A publicist for Paste magazine e-mails to boast of how her publication is looking at the musical demise of Seattle, "the Ground Zero of grundge." (Probably a typo, but I like it.)

An online reader from Brazil e-mails to say she will be visiting Seattle, and to plead for advice:

"Do you know of any grunge places left? ... I also appreciate if you could suggest some grunge clothing stores (if those ever existed)."

These are just recent examples to show how much of the world still pictures us: greasy-haired, flannel-clad, down-tuned guitar rocking grungers. (Grundgers?)

Even if you're tuned into what's going on around the clubs and local radio, you know that it's a rock-dominated local scene — heavy on indie and garage, sides of emo, punk-metal and hip-hop.

If the Hands, who are trying to "abandon" garage rock, wonder how they will be received by Seattle, imagine Choklate, a marvelous soul singer whose voice is geographically and chronologically adrift.

Last week, Choklate (pronounced just like the candy) was all smiles and high fives. The sun was out, her new recording was sounding good, she was planning a tour and — perhaps most telling of all — she was preparing for her biggest Seattle shows.

Jazz Alley is the Dom Perignon of Seattle clubs. This swank downtown venue has hosted the likes of Oscar Peterson, Branford Marsalis, McCoy Tyner and other jazz greats. Homegrown stars Nancy Wilson and Diane Schuur have had concerts here, and Eartha "Cat Woman" Kitt prowled this stage.

Tuesday and Wednesday (7:30 p.m., $20.50 each night), Jazz Alley invites Choklate to take her shot at the microphone. She's something of an unorthodox booking for the conservative venue.

Gary Bannister, artistic director of Jazz Alley, said he heard Choklate's music on a local radio show. "I immediately recognized the quality of her production and thought it would be something that might help Jazz Alley move into a new arena of presenting," Bannister said, via e-mail. "It's a win-win for everyone, she gets a nice venue, we get a rising star that's going to bring a whole new audience to Jazz Alley."

This rising star is unique, perhaps even curious, not only for Jazz Alley but for the totality of Seattle — simply, she is not of this time, not of this place.

Told that she has a Stax/Watts sound from the '60s, Choklate smiles and shrugs. "He's always telling me what the sound is like," she says, pointing to producer Vitamin D, "but I just forget — I'm kind of an airhead."

Fitting, for their below-the-mainstream sound, Choklate and D are working in his underground studio, below the OK Hotel (the former music venue that is now an "affordable" housing and art space).

Vitamin D replays a new Choklate song he's been working on, "Sun's Out." It's a booming, soundtrack-ready cut, with D bumping Motown and Herbie Hancock grooves and Choklate's vocals busting out, Mary J. Blige style.

If the rest of the album is anywhere near as good, the singer and producer are cooking up a major feast.

Her record-in-the-making, she says, "describes my real, everyday life over music that's a seamless marriage of hip-hop and R&B. My voice over those sounds is soul.

"People ask me all the time: 'Will the scene allow you to do your thing? Will the other musicians accept you?'

"Honestly, I don't give a damn ... It's catching people off guard. I get it that it's different — well, I don't, but I get it that people think it's different."

Don't expect any of the new songs at Jazz Alley. She says she'll be doing jazz interpretations of her older songs, as well as covers of Prince and Jade. - Seattle Times


Choklate Albums:
Choklate CD 2006

To Whom It May Concern 2009

Fah La La La La The Christmas EP MP3 Download 2011

Choklate Appears on:
4th Dimension Rocketships Going Up

Fish Outta Water
Fish Outta Water CD (2009) Audio Samples

Reprogram CD (2005) 4 stars Audio Samples

N Flight
N Flight CD (2004) 4 stars Audio Samples

Cause & Effect
Cause & Effect CD (2007)



Born in Seattle, WA and raised in San Diego, CA, Choklate has always in one way or another been involved with music or dance. The newest soul singer to the scene was raised on Gospel, solely, but was introduced to hip-hop by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’. “It was the first ‘worldy’ song and only video allowed in the house. I used to sneak and listen to the radio so low that all I could hear sometimes was the beat. I called it ‘Music Deprivation Disease’. Beside the Gospel, it was hard for Choklate to hear much soul music at home, so when finally out on her own, she recalls having her ear to everything from Bach and Yo Yo Ma to Brotha Lynch Hung. “I love all musical genres for the most part, I think I could actually find something to enjoy in almost all of the different kinds of music that exist…” Over the years, living in Seattle and honing her craft, beside having been a resident at one of the most popular club nights in Seattle, Jumbalaya, the longest running improve weekly in the history of Seattle, Choklate is steady at work on different projects and will be looking to continue to express and explore the art of musical creation through both writing and singing for herself as well as other artists. She’s also recently released a full length debut self titled album in May ’06 and is receiving a positive world wide response to it. Her favorite producer/engineer and muse is the legendary Vitamin D. Choklate has worked with a multitude of artists. She has been sighted on such projects as Blacksheep, Boom Bap Project, Abstract Rude, Butta Verses, De La Soul, Gift of Gab.

What ever happened to GOOD music? You know—the feel good, soul stirring music that moves every
part of your physical, mental, and spiritual being. Some people believe music like this no longer exists; especially with all the booty poppin’, overplayed voice synthesizer songs filling the clubs and radio airways.

Don’t give up just yet. Lovers of pure, organic music have a reason to believe again: Choklate.

“All of the music that I make is from my soul,” Choklate genuinely confirms.

There’s no need in trying to make her fit into one particular music genre. She candidly explains, “I just do what I feel inside. A lot of times I go into the booth and just try stuff. Whatever the music says to do, I do. I’m just a big ol’ mash of good music.” She does admit that people who like Hip-Hop, R&B, Blues, and Jazz will probably be more attracted to her style.

Choklate has created a tremendous buzz. She has performed in Sweden, France, Italy, UK (to name a few); performed at the ‘I Got Soul’ Conference; the 'Can A Sista Rock A Mic' festival; opened for leading soul men Bilal, Raheem Devaughn, Dwele, Eric Roberson and Anthony David as well as R&B group Boyz to Men. Choklate has performed at The Blue Note (NYC), Highline Ballroom (NYC), SOB's (NYC), Underground Soul Sessions Concert (Houston, TX), Soul Is…Concert Series with Darrius Willrich (MD), and a special show with Roy Ayers at Sugarhill (ATL).

Choklate has worked with some of Seattle’s finest producers: Vitamin D, Bean One, Jake One, Kuddie
Mak, Jay Townsend and Amos Miller. This is all on top of already having appeared on tracks with legendary artists like Blacksheep, Abstract Rude, Butta Verses, De La Soul, Gift of Gab and Chali 2na's solo albums.

Smooth Choklate touched the stages of Seattle’s finest spots like The Baltic Room, The Scarlett Tree, Lo-Fi The Mirabeau Room, The War Room, Chop Suey and The Showbox and graced well known Hollywood stages Ventura, Key Club to name a few.

Choklate remains humble and true to whom she is as a person; and continues to break industry standards with her fresh, vibrant demeanor which shines through her music. “My greatest accomplishment is being a woman I am proud to look at in the mirror—I like who I’m turning in to,” she says.