Tamara Bertrand: Haiti’s Queen Bee On Her Singing Career – Kreyolicious.com
There’s interesting story behind singer Tamara Bertrand’s stage moniker Queen Bee. The Haiti-born and based singer earned the name “La Reine”—The Queen—from her father and teachers for her turbulent and rebellious ways. When she started singing professionally in the mid-2000s, she thought the name would be quite fitting for career purposes. At first, the singer says, she just named herself Queen. She added the “Bee” part much later, from the French word “abeille” meaning, well, “bee”, because she says she’s very bossy and she commands the field like a queen or a bee. While she can be quite docile, she can sting like a bee when the moment and situation calls for it.
Haiti’s Queen Bee has a soulful soprano. Her voice has threads of the singer Tifane. It’s truly perfect for jazz-world ballads.
How would you describe your music?
Every song I’ve done can be described in their own little way. “Lèm Wè’w” [When I See You] was to help some people who were in a situation like that really have their say about how they felt. “Si Se…” [If It’s…] was true story that I wanted to sing about. There’s “A Dance under the Rain”, “Rechercher” [Find Again] and so on. Every song has its own message, and I would describe them as messages of love and peace in the lives of everyone who allows themselves to be touched by them.
When did you first realize that you had talent as a singer?
Before I even became aware of the fact that I could sing, I discovered my love for music. So really, I first developed this appreciation for music, before I even figured that I had the talent for it. I was really little and I was really proud and grateful towards God because I think it would hurt a lot if I liked music to that degree, and couldn’t sing. I think being such a big lover of music and actually being able to make music has given a purpose to my life. It allows me to express all my feelings—my way, while also speaking for those who don’t have a microphone, or a pen at hand.
Of all your experiences so far on the stage, which has been the most memorable?
Everything music-related that I do stands out for me personally, because even before I release it, I learn to appreciate it myself. I don’t really have a particular moment that stands out for me. What always stands out for me is when the fans like my songs and when I go perform and they show their appreciation. They like seeing me and they sing along with me. They have a lot of fun afterwards telling me how much they love me. Moments like those are always special to me; they truly have an impact on me, and I never forget them.
What do you wish to accomplish over the course of your career?
There’s a lot of things I want to accomplish in my career, and that takes patience, courage, devotion, determination and discipline. So, I work really hard ever day to gain more experience, to learn more, and to move further towards success. I have a lot of projects and in time, I’m going to make them come to fruition because I’m not in too much of a hurry, nor am I the type to step all over people to get to the top. Cultivating patience was one of my projects, and I’ve succeeded in that. I was always too impatient, and I hated myself for that.
What suggestions do you have for making the Haitian music industry better?
Well, I think the industry could use an improvement overhaul. Too many huge artists and big talents are just going unrecognized. We need more collaboration, more producers, more collective thinking and positivity, more respect, and be done with “My clique”, and “Your Clique” mentality. Everything else will follow.
What’s it like to be a musical star in Haiti?
From what I can see, there are some Haitian artists who can make music their livelihood, or would like to make a comfortable living at it, but it isn’t easy. In other countries, an artist can make a living from his talents, and can live super well because he has a team. Everyone knows their roles and live up to their job description. And there are people to help them. In Haiti, the artist—is at the same time—the producer, promoter, publicist, and even at times plays the role of the journalist too. And when he’s finally able to draw a crowd of 200 people at a show, all of them want to be in the [free] VIP seats. The works of artists are being bootlegged and no one says a word. Sometimes this causes the artist to not be able to create anything afterwards. All of this needs to change. Well, since it’s been sometimes since we have an intellectual rights office, I hope to see this problem solved.
Do female singers have it hard in Haiti? Do you think society norms treats the male singers differently?
If Haiti has come to give women rights, it’s after a lot of fighting that some key people have done to give women the respect they’ve come to have. Nevertheless, they continue to endure a lot of mistreatment and prejudices from a society that isn’t keen to offering them much. Before, the ladies were really staying away from the music scene. But I’m happy over the fact that I’m beginning to see the situation improve. I hope this positive movement continues, because a lot of the ladies have been victims of indecent proposals, just to get a little help [in the music business], and some of them don’t even dare speak out about it. Sometimes, it’s voluntary too. Some of them are so ready to do everything and anything to succeed that they’ll even offer themselves up to abuse. I would love to see women and men get equal treatment in society, not just in the music business. And I’d like for women themselves to know their worth so that other people can respect and recognize their true worth as women.
When are you releasing an album?
One thing I want to avoid is giving an album release date that doesn’t end up coming through. It’s been a while since I announced the release of my album, but for reasons relating to my management, I wasn’t able to really release it. I took that time to really rethink certain things, and to tweak some of the tracks on the album. We’re pretty much ready right now. It’s going to be soon, though I don’t have an exact date. I’ll announce it some other time.
What can you tell us about the album?
The album is a production produced by JM Music Entertainment and TizonDife Recordz. It’s very versatile, in terms of beats and lyrics. Everyone’s going to find something they like. We took great care to put ourselves in the shoes of the fans to get a sense of what they like. I’m pretty confident that there’s plenty to please everyone.
What advice would you like to give to up-and-coming singers, emerging out of Haiti?
Advice I’d give to up-and-coming singers is to put education before anything else. It’s not enough to know how to sing, because there’s lots of other people who know how to sing really well too. You can’t be an artist if you don’t have any discipline, wisdom, respect, intelligence, patience—to just name a few. Know where you’ve been, where you want to go. Know perseverance. Don’t sell your body. Stay smart.
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