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One might consider the musical pairing of, say, Antonio Vivaldi of Italy and the Wu-Tang Clan of Staten Island to be one wacky idea. But Marie-Claire Giraud, a classically trained singer raised in the Bronx, begs to differ. The 28-year-old mezzo-soprano, who can belt out a perfect French aria at the drop of a chapeau, is trying to introduce a brand-new musical style, an unlikely fusion of rap and opera that she calls hip-hopera.

Though her lyrics are often dark, Ms. Giraud, a native of Dominica, is perpetually sunny. Currently making the rounds of major record labels, she arrives at company offices armed only with a winning smile and a little cassette. She breaks into song without notice, and the first few notes pierce the air with startling clarity.

''I'm my own walking demo tape,'' Ms. Giraud said. ''When I went to Columbia Records, I turned off the machine and just started singing.''

The company was impressed. ''The music is one of a kind,'' said Steve Ramirez, a Columbia artists' representative. ''I think it has real commercial viability.''

Other rappers have mixed pieces of operatic arias into their songs, but Ms. Giraud is distinctive in that she wants to create an entirely new musical genre. ''It's a fusion that's never been done before,'' she said, ''and it's two forms of music that I love the most.''

Ms. Giraud said most people ''think opera and hip-hop are like night and day.''

''But they aren't,'' she added. ''They are so similar. They were just composed in two entirely different time frames.''

Many opera composers, she noted, ''wrote about everything tragic in the world, about bloodshed, death, intrigue, murder, incest, revenge.'' Rap music, she continued, ''is the same thing, but we're talking about the ghetto, we're talking about living on the street, being a drug dealer, your mother's on crack, your girlfriend just lost a baby.''

Ms. Giraud, who has sung opera at Carnegie Hall, collaborated with well-known producers, like Fran Lover and Spider, on ''Hip-Hopera,'' a 10-song album she hopes to release. On the song ''Desperation,'' she performs a duet with R.I.N. of the rap group Klockerz Crew.

''We took a Vivaldi song, 'Sposa son disprezzata,' and paired it with hip-hop lyrics,'' Ms. Giraud explained. ''I'm singing the actual Italian aria, but we build a hip-hop beat around it. Then R.I.N. comes in, rhyming about much the same things I'm singing about, about the lost love of my husband. Only in ghetto fashion.''

Opera, Ms. Giraud believes, holds great promise for urban youth. So what about a hip-hop/opera performance for young people at Lincoln Center? ''That would be fabulous,'' she said. DAVID KIRBY - New York Times


Dominican born, New York based opera singer Marie Claire, who was featured recently in the New York Times, CNN news and on the 2nd season of the Dave Chappell Show on Comedy Central is getting ready to jet to Jamaica for a special performance at Red Bones – The Blues Cafe on Friday, November 21 at 8pm.

Claire has been on the ‘Rock’ before, having performed at Christopher’s and Weekenz earlier this year. She has also appeared on Hype TV while in Jamaica. Claire was raised in the Bronx, New York and began singing while studying Archaeology at Brooklyn College. She is a classically trained opera singer who blends jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop and reggae.

“My opera singing sets me apart from other singers. I feel blessed that God has given me such a tremendous talent” she said.

When asked which Jamaican acts would she love to record with? Initially at a lost for words, after gathering her thoughts she said, “Oh my, oh my, oh my…I would love to work with so many Jamaican artiste. Buju Banton… I love him. Duane Stephenson, Tanya Stephens, Tessane Chin, Sean Paul to name a few but there are so many others. I think the blending of opera with reggae and dancehall would be explosive.”

Claire told NY Vibes fans can expect something that they have never seen before when he grace the stage at Red Bones. “I am doing three 45 minute sets starting off with the classical jazz standards, then I will be stepping it up with more up tempo jazz and R&B songs and then finally I will hit them off with my own original music, which is blending opera with reggae, dancehall, r&b, hip-hop and so much more.”
Fans may get another opportunity to see her in action as she may be returning to Jamaica for a possible performance at next year’s Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in Montego Bay.

“My performance at the festival has not been confirmed as yet but it will be” she disclosed - IMAGES Newsletter


So I returned home during the Independence season last year which was chock-full of activities. On such event was Belmont Lounge hosted by marie-claire at Symzee's -a local spot known for Jazz on a Thursday night. I did an impromptu performance and marie-claire complemented my singing. She was so sweet, humble and just so encouraging! It seems after that night we just kept running into each other and as fate would have it, I am compelled to let the world know about this gem of a talent local to Dominica and no stranger to the world stage.

marie-claire was born in Roseau, Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies and raised in The Bronx, New York. She began singing while studying Archaeology in her senior year at Brooklyn College, when she performed at an open mike night at the Village Vanguard. The very next day marie-claire and her best friend left for Texas where she spent a year and a half performing on the jazz and country western circuit. She attended a performance of Mozart’s, Don Giovanni and was inspired to pursue a career in opera.

Undaunted by remarks of the extensive training involved, marie-claire embarked on her latest endeavor. Eight months to the year, while working in the classical music department at the Austin Tower Records, marie-claire was approached by the musical director of the Austin Lyric Opera Company who overheard her singing to La Boheme. After only two auditions marie-claire became a member of the Austin Lyric Opera Company. She completed the season and began her full time study of opera, at the Conservatory of Santa Cecelia in Rome, Italy where she lived for three years. Her return to the states took her through Los Angeles, where she continued her study, and then back to New York where she studied with Raymond Buckingham.


The connection with Mr. Buckingham led to two performances at Carnegie Hall with the New York Grand Opera Company. She also studied with Wayne Saunders of Opera Ebony, performing in several recitals in the New York City area. She has been featured in The City section of the Sunday New York Times, performed at Joe’s Pub, Lyricist Lounge-Central Park Summer Stage 2001, Siren, Izzy Bar, and Lot 61 to name a few. She has performed at the . Annual Hip-Hop Film Festival (November 2002) and Bounce at The Bronx Museum of The Arts. marie-claire has been featured in the films, Lovin Jezebel and The Roommate and part of the cast of the second season of The Chappelle Show on Comedy Central. She has also graced her amazing voice on DJ Logic’s Album, The Anomaly. marie-claire’s passion is to seamlessly blend opera and hip-hop, as she finds the two genres covering the same themes with their highly dramatic lyrics. CNN said, “She is the real Hip-Hopera, hearing is believing!

In 2005 marie-claire was featured in the 2nd season of the Dave Chappelle Show on Comedy Central. Marie-claire has also graced the pages of local magazine Domnitjen and regional magazine, “Liat’s Island Where”. She performed at Dominica’s State House, the solo recital:’ A Night at the Opera’, at Jazzwalk singing the classic jazz standards of George Gershwin and Cole Porter and at Cable&Wireless,”Creole in the Park” doing hip-hopera. During that year, marie-claire co-created, co-produced & hosted video best- the first ever video music show in Dominicaa. Locally produced, it served as a platform for local artists.


2006 was equally busy for marie-claire. She headlined with artists such as Morgan Heritage, Richie Spice and Barrington Levy in Dominica as part of Nature Fest and in St. Lucia as part of Love Fest. marie-claire 's love of film inspired her to form her own production company, girlfullofgold productions ltd., a local company whose directive is bringing the stories of the region to light through the art forms of film, music videos & live TV. marie-claire also had two live TV shows in Dominica, jazzlive, which featured the best jazz musicians on the island including marie claire and belemont lounge which featured reggae, dancehall, hip-hop and r&b. Both shows were geared towards providing local artists with a platform to express themselves through their art, and both were aired live on Sat TV and Q95, which stream world wide. marie-claire was also featured on WCK 2006 cd release, the track entitled, ‘Hustlin’.

In 2007 marie-claire sang for heads of state from all over the world, including Hillary Rodham Clinton.

marie-claire visited Jamaica in 2008 for stints at Christopher’s Jazz Café, Weekenz & Red Bones Blues Café to rave revues.

marie-claire kicked off an equally busy 2009 with a performance at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in Montego Bay. She still has three albums to record, opera, jazz and the evolution continues, her tour of her show, ‘Opera Goes To The Movies’ across the Caribbean and plenty of live performances. Upcoming shows include Ocho Rios Jazz Festival.

Look out for her on an island near you!


Opera singer, Hip-hop lover, Nature Isle daughter...ma - The Lime


Nelly Stharre, a Dominican dreadlocked singer and her countrywoman, Marie-Claire, officially brought the festival's curtains down as they performed during the after-party segment.
- Jamaica Gleaner


Jamaica Observer (Daily), Thursday July, 22nd 2010
Page 2, The Style Issue-Lyrical Link (Yasmine Peru)
Dominican Reggae-opera singer Marie-Claire, who styled in a rasta-inspired asymmetrical tee and white leggings ‘held the order’, dare we suggest, with celebrated musician Steve Golding.
- Jamaica Observer


Antigua Observer, Monday June 21st 2010

“Dominican-born singer marie-claire, whose music is described as hip-hopera, received whistles and cheers from the appreciative audience as the artiste, who grew up in Bronx, New York, put her own twist to popular songs.”

Performance photo caption:”Hip-hopera singer Marie-Claire
- Antigua Observer


“As a woman with a strong identity and a unique sense of fashion, MARIE-CLAIRE GIRAUD has set herself apart from what one would appreciate as a typical opera singer.”

“she has successfully made a name for herself throughout the Caribbean and beyond.”

- SHE Caribbean Magazine (Winter Issue 2009)


Discography

“red” (2002)
“desperation” (2002)
“summertime” (2008)
“care for you” (2010)
“jah guide” (2010)
“dreamland” (2010)

Mixtapes/Compilations
The Anomaly—DJ Logic (2000)
Chiney Flava Riddim--DJ Krush (2010)

Studio albums
The dreamland project (2011)

Songs featured in motion pictures
“red” The Roomate (2000)
“stormy weather” Lovin Jezebel (1999)

Photos

Bio

marie-claire started 2010 with a performance at the Year of the Child Concert in Dominica. A performance which left an indelible mark on patrons who have been captivated by her powerful, yet soothing, melodious voice. After her performance at Jamaica Jazz and Blues on Sunday Jan. 31st, the accolades continued. Fans and industry experts alike are anxiously waiting for her debut album the dreamland project, which is being recorded in Jamaica. A mix of reggae and funk with operatic influences flavored throughout, it illustrates her growth as an artist and is sure to be a staple in every music lover’s collection.

An open-mike performance at Village Vanguard, while marie-claire was an Archeology student at Brooklyn College, was the starting point for this development. Since then marie-claire has gone from performing on the jazz and country western circuit to performing with the Austin Lyric Opera Company and to studying opera, at the Conservatory of Santa Cecelia in Rome, Italy where she lived for three years. Her return to the states took her through to Los Angeles where she continued her study, and then back to New York; where she studied with Raymond Buckingham.

marie-claire has performed at Carnegie Hall with the New York Grand Opera Company, Joes Pub, Lyricist Lounge-Central Park Summer Stage 2001 and Izzy Bar to name a few. Her first performance in her native Dominica was the solo recital ’A Night at the Opera.’ She has also performed at Cable and Wireless Creole in the Park, Nature Fest, Creole and All That Jazz. In Dominica marie-claire made her mark in television as well, by co-creating, co-producing and hosting video best-the first ever video music show in Dominica. She also had two live shows jazzlive and belemont lounge produced by her girlfullofgold productions ltd, and interviewed artists at the 12th Annual World Creole Music Festival for the Dominica Festival Commission (DFC)

Speaking of TV, her music has been featured in the films Lovin Jezebel, The Roommate and marie-claire herself was part of the cast of the second season of The Chappelle Show on Comedy Central. She has been interviewed by Caribbean Billboard; featured in the New York Times, Jamaica Observer and the pages of She Caribbean, Ocean Style and Domnitjen Magazine; as well as popular Caribbean entertainment sites such as limein.com, dominicanewsonline.com and bajanreporter.com.

Regionally, marie-claire has been keeping busy. She performed at St. Lucia’s Love Fest in 2006. In 2008 she performed in Jamaica at Christopher’s Jazz Café, Weekenz, and Red Bones Blues Café to rave revues. 2009 saw performances at Jamaica Jazz and Blues, Russell’s in Antigua. Apart from a well-received performance at Jamaica Jazz and Blues, 2010 saw marie-claire opening for Faith Evans at the Love Is All We Need Concert series.

Apart from gracing the stage as an entertainer; marie-claire the philanthropist, has joined forces with four committed Dominicans to stage the Year of the Child concert series. So far artists like Tony Rebel, Queen Ifrica, Arturo Sandoval and Arturo Tappin have joined marie-claire and local artists for performances at various locations on the island.

marie-claire’s passion is to seamlessly blend opera and hip-hop, as she finds the two genres covering the same themes with their highly dramatic lyrics, just listen to her amazing voice on DJ Logic’s The Anomaly, or her songs “Red” and “Desperation.” Now it is time to condense this blend of Opera, Hip-Hop and Reggae into a mature, sexy, and delightful album- a fitting description of marie-claire herself. Look out for her upcoming album the dreamland project which will feature marie-claire singing celebrated reggae songs (such as Bunny Wailer’s “Dreamland” and Bob Marley’s “Rastaman Chant”) in Opera, and will include some original reggae selections such as “care for you” a sweet and timeless lover’s rock with and old soul. This girl full of gold is a treasure you don’t want to miss!