First Priority
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First Priority

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"R&B trio hoping to put Dillard High on the music map: A star-quality R & B trio has caught the ear of Dillard High's director of music production, who is helping them find a label for their CD "

Jun. 18, 2006 (Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News delivered by Newstex) --
A cast of talented singers from Dillard High School hope the buzz they have created with a rhythm-and-blues CD with lyrics they co-wrote will set them on a path to stardom and thrust the Dillard Center for the Performing Arts into the spotlight, too.
The trio of Cherri Torres, Jade Felder and Sasha Schaafe, who perform under the name First Priority, are collaborating with student-producer Brian Gordon and Dillard's director of music production, Israel Charles, on the selftitled CD First Priority, scheduled to be completed July 15.
Charles, a 1988 Grambling State graduate with 16 years experience as a music teacher and conductor, said this group has the rare star quality needed to make a name for itself in the highly competitive music industry.
"All three of them are talented young ladies," Charles said. "They can sing and they can dance and they can write. You can find good vocal talent a dime a dozen. What sets these girls apart is that they also write their own songs and they have that charisma. They're intelligent and they have the look."
On the CD, the trio invites comparisons to superstar R&B group Destiny's Child with their range and harmonizing. The project maintains a strong R&B flavor, starting with the signature title track First Priority -- a mid-tempo single sprinkled with hip-hop and rap verses -- to Bye-Bye, a catchy dance number that will have listeners tapping their feet. Other tracks with potential include Butterflies, Dream World and Girls Don't Lie.
Jade, a junior, said Charles gave the teenagers a CD with instrumental tracks on a Friday to see what they could do, and they had vocals for four songs on it by the following Monday.
"Things just jumped off from there. That proved to him that we were serious about this," Jade said. "It shows that all three of us can pull together. For me to be African American and Cherri is Hispanic and Sasha is Chinese-Jamaican, the audience can pull all aspects from each of us. We feel like we have something unique to offer."
These aspiring stars are also getting a valuable lesson in how much work is needed behind the scenes. While the biggest challenge is finding the right record label, Charles, through his production company, Big Baby Entertainment, also has helped in marketing, promotions, and trademark matters.
"The music business is not just about singing and writing," senior Cherri Torres said. "What I've learned the most from Mr. Charles is to be on time. When it's studio time, he means business. He is not playing. It's time to buckle down and get your priorities straight."
Charles' goal since taking over the Dillard music program three years ago has been to tap into the musical talent pool and bring the Performing Arts Center on par with the school's rich athletic history.
A professional recording studio and music lab give students a rare hands-on experience in the music industry. With 15 electronic keyboards and several electric guitars at their disposal, students can explore their musical side during class and later work with Charles and Gordon to record their work in the studio.
"I would be willing to say that we have another Marvin Gay or The Temptations or even The Supremes somewhere on this campus," Charles said. "It's just a matter of putting the right team together to bring them out. That is what my vision is."
With no record deal at this point, Charles is considering some creative ways to get his young stars' names out to the public, including digitally distributing the songs on Web sites I-Tunes, MSN Music and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) Music for purchase.
"I want Dillard to be viewed as a dream come true as far as music goes," senior Sasha Schaafe said. "I'm hoping to be big and have people hear what I have to say. Hopefully, we will go far."
To find out more about First Priority, e-mail israel.charles@broward schools.com or call 754-322-0851. Audio clips of the new CD can be heard on myspace.com/Trilogydivas.
- Miami Herald/Knight Ridder


Discography

First Priority - Single
Now getting spins at: WTMP - Tampa, WGOV - Valdosta, WSTI - Valdosta, WJJN Dothan AL, KHTE - Little Rock

Photos

Bio

Who Is First Priority? ...... Three talented young ladies from South Florida are poised to ignite the music scene. Meet First Priority: Jade (16), Sasha (17) and Cherry (18). Together, they are equipped with the total package for success; strong vocals, great songs, cutting moves and an A+ production team featuring South Florida’s emerging producers Blaq and Iz. Though young in years, they're a professional, experienced trio that is ready to step into the spotlight.

While the vocal talent of First Priority was fine-tuned at the Dillard HS Center For The Arts, a performing arts school in Ft. Lauderdale, FL., Jade, Sasha and Cherry began singing at an early age. Throughout their educational development, the ladies individually compiled an impressive list of awards ranging from first place in talent competitions to scholarships to colleges. Jade and Sasha both study voice, while Cherry studies Theatre. Currently the group is in the studio completing their first CD, in which they are penning most of the material.

And what's coming from First Priority is a versatile mixture of styles and flavors which reflects the cultural diversity of the group. From uptempo R&B joints to expressive ballads and sassy anthems to songs of inspiration, First Priority wants to be known as a group that brings the triple threat to the equation…brains, beauty and creativity. "We love writing our own material," states Jade, "because it is an excellent means of self expression. I enjoy explaining my point of view and expressing myself in a manner others can relate to." Cherry agrees. "We don’t want to just be known for our sex appeal, we want to be role models for the young ladies out there that want to follow their dreams, while maintaining respect for themselves. You don’t have to be half dressed to be considered beautiful." Sasha concurs. "For us, it’s about the positive messages in the music."

And it starts with First Priority coming out of the gate fresh and sassy with the infectious lead single "First Priority." Jade, one of the songs cowriters, states that "when I heard the beat for the first time, I knew this had to be a song with attitude that was meant to remind the fella’s not to take us for granted, and that we (the ladies) should be treated like queens." Songs such as "Single Mother" offers inspiration for the young ladies that are up against the challenges of being a young single paren

As Jade, Sasha and Cherry prepare themselves and audiences for their debut, they have each committed themselves to becoming a force in the industry as dynamic vocalist, great songwriters, and incomparable entertainers.