Country Music is not normally a genre chosen by Samoan Music Artists which is interesting considering some of the classic past Samoan artists like Five Star and Punialava’a that our parents love could easily be mistaken for having country music influences. One talented SUGA musician has released her own country music album in the U.S. We chat to artist Cheryl Deseree Vaimoso-Adams, 34, whose father hails from the village of Vaimoso Samoa, about her exciting music career.
Congratulations on your self-titled debut album! I guess what most of our readers would like to know…why country music? Normally we would associate this genre with Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain and Lady Antebellum lol. Great to see a SUGA in this industry.
As silly as this may sound, I feel like country music chose me. I had a really rough childhood and country music has a way of doing the crying for you. As a child, before I had the words or emotional maturity to express sadness, loneliness, abandonment, and grief, country music was there. The fiddle, mandolin, & steel guitar just reached in and pulled out all of those ugly feelings and gave them a place to go. It healed me in times when nothing else seemed to work. It continues to do that for me to this day, not only in the music I listen to, but in the music I write and play.
Have you always listened to country music?
I grew up listening to all style of music, but I fell in love with the storytelling of country music at an early age. What I love about real country music is the honesty. It is a style founded on storytelling, raw emotion & issues in life that face everyone regardless of social class, race, or economic standing.
Jazz & swing music also play a big part in influencing my sound, namely the infectious joy of what is called Western Swing. Imagine the big band jazz of Count Basie & Duke Ellington, but instead of or in addition to trumpets and trombones, there are fiddles & steel guitar. Western Swing or hillbilly jazz, as it is affectionately called sometimes, never fails for put a smile on my face. It also offers a great rhythm for dancing. You can hear the influence of that style in my songs Pillow Talkin’ and Stage Door Jenny.
How was the recording process, tell us about that?
We recorded my self-titled, debut album over Thanksgiving & Christmas last year. The great players in the rhythm section had been part of my backing band since I moved to Nashville in 2014, so there was an ease and trust between us all that made laying down the beds of the songs very easy. Once “the bones” of the songs were in place, we began to layer in the soloists. I am incredibly blessed to live in Nashville, Tennessee. There is simply no other place to be if you love country music as much as I do. The wealth of talent and knowledge that the musicians in this town have is unmatched. The musicians who played on my record have toured and recorded with some of the biggest stars in the industry and are critically acclaimed in their own rights too- having won prestigious awards and releasing solo records as well.
Do you enjoy Samoan music?
Oh yes, I have fond memories of driving around with my dad as he blasted The Five Stars. There are definitely strong similarities between Samoan music and country music, namely in the guitar work, melodies, and vocal harmonies. Between my Samoan heritage and my English/Irish/Scotch blood from my American mother, I was destined to fall in love with country music as the sound of stringed instruments is in my blood. Some of my favorite island songs are The Five Stars’ ‘Oi la’u pele ea’, the Samoan classic, Tele Ia O Le Sami and Punialava’a’s Ou Te Le Talaole which has almost a cha-cha rhythm. I also enjoy Poly sounds by NZ artists like Adeaze (if E Paia doesn’t break your heart, there is no hope for you), Mevina, and of course my wickedly talented cousins-Giantkilla, Chrisjes & Groovehouse founders- Cydel.
What artists do you look up to?
Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Merle Travis, Bob Wells, kd lang, Ella Fitzgerald, The Mills Brothers, Cindy Walker, The Riders in The Sky, Roy Rogers, The Time Jumpers, Vince Gill, & Lee Ann Womack.
What do you have planned for the next year?
We are trying to get on the road and do some touring in the U.S. and Europe and eventually New Zealand and Australia so I’m very excited!
I am fiercely proud of my Samoan roots and my aiga. I dream of the day I can visit my family home in Vaimoso and hope to one day receive my malu.
You can listen to Cheryl’s self-titled debut abum on Itunes and Spotify
Twitter & Instagram- @StepfordBunny