Music has always been the way for American Idol alum, Kendra Chantelle. In her music Chantelle combines a wide variety of influences to produce a sound that is both unique and extremely authentic. For Chantelle, authenticity extends even beyond her music and works as a guiding principle throughout all aspects of her life.
Recently, we had the opportunity to catch up with Kendra to discuss her journey as well as what she has coming up next.
Who would you describe as your biggest and earliest musical influences?
My earliest and greatest musical influences are definitely Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Mariah Carey, Tina Turner & Aretha Franklin. I grew up in a really musical household and my first “babysitter” was an awesome drummer, Ron Balentine. Ron introduced me to Michael’s music. My mom taught me to sing harmonies on “chain of fools” when I was very little and my parents took me to see Ray Charles at the TN Theater when I was about 5.
At what age did you realize music was the path you wanted to pursue and what led to that decision?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was going to do music.
How would you describe your sound and style to people that haven’t heard your music?
I think my sound/style is best described as angsty, soulful Americana. But I also never know how to answer this question so if anyone out there has an answer, lemme know!! Haha
Of the songs you’ve put out is there one that means a little bit extra to you?
I think all my songs are deeply meaningful to me. I write from a place of authenticity and vulnerability so they are all like special little babies of mine.
Without the ability to really play shows these days have you been able to find a way to connect with fans?
I have connected with fans via social media and released little acoustic performances of all the songs on my album via IG TV since I couldn’t do a proper release show.
What would you say has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how have you been able to overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge honestly was finding and creating my own sound- it was hard because everyone has an idea or version of you they hear/see/want and I had to silence that all and dig deep to find myself.
How do you feel your time on American Idol has shaped you as an artist?
My time on American Idol gained me some amazing fans that have stuck with me for a whole decade now! So thankful
What is the most important piece of advice you’ve received throughout your career?
“It’s better to be disliked for who you are than to be loved for who you aren’t”
Through your activism you are someone that aspires to more than just a musician, how do you feel that your music has allowed you to become more vocal in your activism?
I think having a creative platform can be a great way to inform others. I just also think it’s great to never get judgy or pushy with it. I love how we are all so different and I never want anyone to feel judged for having a different perspective than mine. I think our unique perspectives are an amazing way to expand and learn!! I was able to partner with a favorite organization (Teens for Equality) for the release of my single “beautiful and tragedy” and that was a perfect way to blend my activism and my art.
Activism as a musician is a risky thing, how were you able to to overcome the fear and advocate for what you care about?
I don’t really have fear of being authentic in my views because I’m not a major, mainstream artist so what do I have to lose? Haha
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