Posts Tagged ‘Singing’

Reid My Mind Radio – Connie Chiu – For the Love

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Connie dressed in white whith her hair slicked back looking upwards. The background is a bright white.

Photographed by,Ellis Parrinder


Connie Chiu, known as the first Fashion model with Albinism, has much more to offer than a pretty photo… a great attitude.
Ask her why she does it…. She does it for the love!

I had to ask myself what do I love to do… so I did it! I call it Connie’s Jam, check it out in this episode.

What do you just love to do? Are you doing it? Holla Back!reidmymindradio@gmail.com

Resources

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
What’s up RMMRadio family…

I have back to back episodes that touch on the topic of Fashion.

Although the last episode was really about entrepreneurship and goals…
Today’s episode is fashion related, but I think it’s more about attitude and doing the things we love to do.

I love working with audio,
talking to people with interesting stories and something to say.
Put those together and that’s a partial recipe for this podcast.

Dinner is served, come and get it!
[Audio: Dinner bell ringing, man announcing “Come and get it!”]
[Audio: Reid My Mind Radio Theme]

CC:
My Name Is Connie Chiu and I am partially sighted. I have albinism. The condition affects my eyesight, it effects my skin. Those two are the main things. I like to
look at it as a cocktail of conditions or a Smorgasbord of conditions to just make it sound a little bit more delicious

TR:
Delicious as in pleasing, agreeable or gratifying-
I get the sense this is an important theme for Connie.

Born in Hong Kong, at 7 years old Connie and her family moved to Sweden.

CC:
my parents thought you know she’s quite she’s got light skin she’s got white hair surely she would blend in better in Sweden with Swedish people. But I was just a little bit whiter than Swedish people and my hair was just so very very white. My features were still Chinese. So yes I did stand out in Sweden and yes I did stand out in Hong Kong as well. I’ve been to America and yes I stood out in America. So really I need to go somewhere with a lot of white Chinese people for me not to stand out.

TR in conversation with CC:
[Laughing] I don’t know where that it…!

CC:
[Laughing] I don’t know iether.

TR in conversation with CC:
Children are children so I’m going to assume when you went to Sweden, you said around when you were 7 years old, you obviously stood out in class so I am going to assume that some kids bullied.

CC:
Actually I was quite lucky you won’t believe it I was quite tall as a child. When I was about nine ten people thought I was twelve. So I think they were they
were all quite small, I thought all my classmates were so small you know boys girls doesn’t matter. I was like a head taller than what they were. I think that helped
I don’t know why but it kind of was a quite positive response. They sort of gave me gifts. They sort of gave me drawings. They gave me little presents here and there. They were just nice to me.

In Sweden they celebrate Italian Saint called Santa Lucia. Ideally you should be blonde to be Santa Lucia. In our class we had like a little vote. Then you dress up as Santa Lucia. It’s kind of a whole thing and you sing songs and you have a little parade. They voted me because of my white hair I guess. That was something positive.

It’s very hard for me to say why I wasn’t bullied in school but…

TR in conversation with CC:
I think I know, I think I know…
CC:
Oh, OK you tell me.

TR in conversation with CC:
Because you said you were so tall… I think you were bullying them? Were you bullying them Connie? Were you beating up these kids?

CC>
[Laughing…]
{Sarcastically} Yes. The secret part of my life that I never told anybody… [laughs…]

TR in conversation with CC:
I figured it out! Now, here’s the story!

TR:
Ok, Connie was not a bully. In fact, she says that as a child she was more like the quiet nerd, a real day dreamer.
Today, Connie is known as the first fashion model with Albinism.

CC:
The Thing is albinism is just one part of me.

I always loved beautiful images. I started actually behind a camera. I did an art foundation course and I was taking pictures of people and I had different ideas how I wanted my images and I try to make people pose in a way that I want. But then I kind of understood that well actually I knew exactly what I wanted so I started to take photographs of myself. It sounds crazy and I’m probably a bit crazy anyway so I just sent a black and white photo to a French designer with my phone number on the back. I did it because I admired his work, he’s a bit crazy to.

A few months later I ended up doing his Couture show in Paris. Even though I kind of liked modeling I knew nothing about it. I kind of didn’t know about the super models and so on. Of course they were all there doing the catwalk as well.

It’s just the passion of it drove me to modeling and you know it just in a way such an honor to be part of a beautiful image. iether it’s the catwalk or magazines or T.V. commercials … and it’s just great to work with talented people.

TR in conversation with CC:
The Catwalk, does that… the lights I am assuming that there’s a lot of lights and people taking pictures, how does that impact you?

Yes.

Well I wore my lenses, my light protective lenses and they were absolutely fine with it. Jean-Paul Gaultier and his team. Sometimes that’s all you need it’s not like big adjustments.

TR:
Accommodations that enable participation from a person with vision loss or other disability for that matter are often quite easy. The challenge is less about how to adapt but rather attitude.

despite Connie’s optimistic view on life, she still has to deal with situations where those she works with are less interested in accommodating her needs. Even when it’s something simple, like light protective lenses.

during a commercial shoot , producers ignored her request to reduce the room lighting.

CC:
I did point out to him that my eyesight is light sensitive. We’ll probably need to sort of work around the lighting so they were aware of that. So when I got there I saw that the light was too strong. I stood in the light, I stood on the set, it was too strong. I told them it was too strong. They turned the light down
a little and I said well actually it’s still a bit too strong.

In the studio a whole wall was just Windows really so there was day light on top of the studio lights you know.

So I said the them , Well actually if you could cover up the windows behind the camera that would take a bit of the light away and that would really help me. The team who did the interview all they said was actually we want as much light as possible. At that point I thought OK that’s the way it is.

TR:
She even told them she had her light protective lenses and
it would only take a moment to retrieve and put them in.

CC:
They kind of didn’t react to that whatsoever. They just said oh let’s just let’s just get started with the interview. they wanted to do quite a lot in about ninety minutes. They wanted to ask a lot of questions. They wanted me to wear different outfits. They wanted to take a lot of photographs. So I think those were the priorities.

TR:
It wasn’t just about the discomfort of the bright light; Connie was aware that her uneasiness would be reflected in the final image.

Ironically, this was a commercial where she was talking about her condition; Albinism which includes the extreme sensitivity to light.

CC:
I also thought to myself well actually I could walk out but I’m actually not doing this just for myself.

I don’t want people to fink this is how people
with Albinism usually look. This is only how people with albinism look when they are suffering from bright light.

Somehow I don’t think they realize that actually I felt like they took a bit of my dignity away. Because they didn’t listen to me.

TR:
It’s understandable how Connie would feel that way. But remember she’s an optimist. She’s all about making things sound delicious!

CC:
The situation is not ideal but there are things I can control. I can’t control the light obviously, but I could control the things I said, the way I felt, how I answered the questions.

TR:
These negative experience aren’t enough to dissuade Connie from trying. She does things for the right reason.

CC:
For me if I love something and I’ve really want to do I just do it I don’t even think about how difficult it actually is.

TR:
Connie’s currently pursuing another one of her love’s … singing!
It took her a while to build up her confidence while
pursuing her modeling career but she’s recently released an E P.

CC:

It’s Called my Huckleberry songs. In Moon River there’s a phrase my Huckleberry friend – it sort of means very good friends. My Huckleberry Songs are sort
of my friends in a way. Songs that I really like. For Moon river I’ve written my own guitar arrangement. It’s very simple but it’s kind of the way I see the song as well because I like to do something slightly different.

I perform mostly right now in the U.K. I love it performing live because that’s kind of what jazz is about to be in the moment. And things are never quite the same even though you’re sort of singing the same melody.

I think that’s another sort of common thing with my singing and modeling is daydreaming. [Sighs, as if discovering something new!]

It’s just to be able to use your imagination and you can be somewhere else. I think that that’s really what it is to be somewhere else. And I think people can feel it. it has happened when people say like you just took me somewhere else when you sang that song. I just went with you to a different place.
I tend to go to lovely places, so do come with me! [Laughs!]

TR:

If you want to travel to lovely places with Connie; you can purchase her E P from iTunes and Amazon or on CD direct from Connie…
She’s on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube…

CC:

Connie see o double n ie. My surname Chiu.
If you just search Connie and Albino on Google, it will all come up. (…my information)

TR:
I’m Thomas Reid for Gatewave Radio…

[Audio: extracted from Connie’s opening statement… Just to make it sound a little bit more delicious!]

TR:
Audio for independent living!

[Audio: Bumper – “Alright guys, I think we’re ready to lay this first track down” – Christopher Walken Saturday Night Live skit … “More Cowbell”]

TR:
Connie Chiu’s identity isn’t wrapped in Albinism or being visually impaired. That was a very clear point she made when talking about modeling.

She’s comfortable in her skin.

While she wasn’t bullied as a child and I still haven’t found the proof that she bullied the rest of the kids,
her method of dealing with those who are antagonistic is commendable.

If you are new to being the different person in the room, for whatever reason, Connie has something to offer.

CC:
I’m quite used to it now and I think the way I am as a person I don’t walk around and think about what I look like. It sounds very strange to a lot of people because “you look so different” but to me I’m just me. And it’s not until someone approach me and asked me about my hair and where you’re from When you get those questions you know that that’s oh yes oh yes by the way you know of course compared to most people I do look different. Of
course you will have a lot of people who would like to belittle you for whatever reason they can find. For me it’s quite obvious it’s like white hair and
I’m Chinese but it could also be that I’m not that tall really. So I think if someone wants to belittle you they will find a way after a while I think you learn to read people quite well and you start to understand where people are coming from. What’s behind all the things their saying. What’s behind their behavior. For me that’s quite important to me to understand for me to respond to them. So I think when some people try to belittle me or they try to make me feel different then I just embrace it. It’s like yes I’m different so what? Have you got anything else to add? I think it’s quite important of course that you have to be quite happy with who you are and being comfortable with who you are and I think it’s is that in itself it’s a learning process; ongoing process.

TR:

And then there’s something that I’m pretty sure impacts the majority… Pursuing our interests… for the right reason.

How many of us have dreamed of dancing, acting, writing or any activity, but we don’t pursue it. We have jobs, families , responsibilities…

It’s hard to justify pursuing our dreams.

When asking Connie why she decided to model, make an E P, perform on stage…

CC:
I know it sounds crazy but I did it just because I love it.

TR:
The older we get man we complicate things.

I’ll share my own experience…
I’ve always loved music.
I hear music in everyday situations… beats and melodies.
My family will tell you, I make up songs at the drop of a dime for no reason.
Yes, they’re silly… but their fun!

Ever since gaining access to a digital audio workstation;
that’s the type of software I use to record and edit this podcast;
I started recording some of these silly songs…
but honestly, not enough.
I tend to feel as though it’s a waste of time.
But it’s no more a waste of time than watching sports on TV… yeah I said it!

When the inspiration strikes, I should record..

Like during the production of this podcast, while researching Connie’s music, I came across this one song Surfing in Rio…
It was this one particular part…

Add that with Connie spelling out her name, like a rapper

Well, I had to do it! And I thought we should send a message to those commercial producers who wouldn’t listen to Connie…
Put some respect on that name!
[Audio: An original production by T.Reid using a sample of Surfing in Rio and added some Hip Hop drum beat and scratches as Connie spelling out her name (C o double n ie…) along with some quotes of hers yes, I’m different…
I call it Connie’s Jam! ]

TR:
What’s that thing you just love to do?
Are you doing it!

Seriously, holla back! reidmymindradio@gmail.com
let me know what you’re doing – I’d love to mention it here in a follow up episode…
that could be a source of encouragement for someone else.

If you’re not, consider what Connie said and do it for the love cause it’s simple…

Like subscribing to this podcast
available on Apple Podcast, google Play, Stitcher, Tune In Radio & Sound Cloud.

Now I’m off to pursue my other dream, to some a nightmare, interpretive dancing!

Don’t judge me!
[RMMRadio Outro]
Peace!

Hide the transcript

Reid My Mind Radio: Manhattan Dreams from Moscow

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Picture of Nafset Chenib on platform during the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi Russia

Nafset Chenib dreams of attending school in New York City. Listen to more about her dream, challenges and experience  growing up in russia…but you especially, have to hear her voice!

And make sure you stay tuned for the Reid My Mind Radio Theme Re-Mix!

Subscribe to RMM Radio
– Or hit the Play button below!

 

Resources:
*Nafset’s Go Fund Me]*Closing Ceremony 2014 Paralympics Sochi, Russia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpXg1R50-K0>

 

Transcript

[Opening Music- Nafset  – A. Dvorak – Mesichku Na Nebi (Rusalka)]

TR:
You’re listening to Nafset Chenib, a 28 year old soprano born in Southern Russia.

NC: Now I live in Moscow. I have studied hear for five years  and then I decided to stay here cause I love this city and from my point of view it’s much easier to live in the big city when you are blind rather than a small town.

TR:
At 6 years old Nafset began attending a Russian boarding school for blind children.

NC:
Unfortunately we had no choice . We didn’t have any opportunity for a inclusive education. So I was forced to be there at the boarding school – it was quite far from my house.

TR:
While she says she received a good education, Nafset believes not all of the components that make up the educational plan are fulfilled. Meaning both academic and social including daily living skills.

NC:
There are a lot of teachers that don’t know Braille in those special schools. From my experience I wasn’t taught to use the cane.

TR:
There was even some lacking in the general attitude regarding the capabilities of blind children. Nafset recalls how the school’s director responded
when she and her class mates wanted to learn the English language like children outside of boarding schools.

NC:
He told us “Are you gonna travel or what are you supposed to do with your English?”
You know it was quite offensive.

TR:
Ironically Nafset would come to not only learn English, but several foreign languages.

NC:
I’m not Russian. I’m Sarcasian so I can speak this Sarcasian language it’s called Adyghe language. I speak Russian. I speak Italian. Now I try to study German, mainly because of music.

TR:
Go ahead and add her ability to sing in Hebrew, Czechoslovakian and Spanish.

While the boarding school may have not imagined  blind Russian students having a need for learning English, they did have a music school that would introduce Nafset to her passion.

NC:
I finished my musical school as a pianist. But I had supplementary discipline. It was vocal, opera singing. I started to participate in different festivals to sing in different choirs. I participated in the festival when there was the great opera singer  Montserrat Caballé.

TR:
Among other notable experiences, add the time she sang for Pope John Paul the second!

NC:
I was able to visit  Covent Garden Opera. They performed  Semele by Handel and I was so impressed  that I decided to go in for music more seriously.

TR:
Taking her dream seriously, Nafset  had to fill one of the components that wasn’t addressed in the school for the blind. She decided to find an orientation and mobility trainer to learn how to use the white cane in order to better travel independently.

Now able to make her own life decisions,  Nafset chose to pursue her college education in an inclusive environment, even though there is a special musical college for the blind.

NC:
After college I decided to pursue my education in Moscow. I studied at Victor Popov Academy  of Choral Arts. It was wonderful time. I sing solo; students choir. I was able to collaborate with very interesting orchestras, outstanding conductors.

TR:
In some respects,  a vocation as a singer seems like a natural fit for a talented person who is blind.

NC:
Conductors, they don’t trust you. I hear the question “How are you gonna sing if you don’t see the conductor?”
[Trailing sarcastic laugh!]

TR:
The misperceptions about blindness aren’t very logical and are more about the beholder’s limitations rather than the person who is blind.

[Musical transition – Nafset  – A. Dvorak – Mesichku Na Nebi (Rusalka)]

In the 1980’s when asked by a reporter if Russia would participate in the first Paralympic games
A Russian governmental official famously responded:
“There Are No Invalids in the USSR!”

Outright denying the existence of people with disabilities in the country.

While progress is slowly being made, it’s not surprising that
many teachers  are still against creating an inclusive educational environment for children with disabilities.

There continues to be a real lack of resources including Braille materials, access to information such as scholarly databases and information in general

While Nafset recognizes the areas for improvement, she’s very clear about her love of her country and wants to be a part of the solution.

NC:
I see that we have a lot to adopt from the United States. I’m eager to do that.

The thing is you know dreamed to study at the Manhattan School of Music and then to go back and to share my acquired knowledge and skills

TR:
Going after your dreams isn’t easy!
Most artistic endeavors  require a great deal of practice and of course you   need to make a living.

NC:
I work at the Moscow Art Theater. I sing for one performance. I like my job. It’s like a miracle for me.

TR:
Singing for one of the shows at the theater as well as occasional concerts,
Nafset is still uncertain of her future employment opportunities
but she remains committed to her dream.

So what exactly is stopping Nafset from pursuing her dream?
…The cost!

NC:
In February, I had a successful audition at Manhattan School of Music in New York And I was accepted  and I have been granted scholarship it amounted to 15 thousand dollars, but the whole tuition fees  45 thousand dollars so I think I’m not able to pursue my education in USA.

I have not a bad education here in Russia but for me self-development is the main thing in my life. I want to develop myself.

TR:
Sometimes it’s helpful to think about our past successes to provide encouragement and remind us that we can prevail.

[Audio from 2014 Paralympics Closing Ceremony in Sochi, Russia]

In 2014 During the closing ceremony of the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, Nafset was the soloist in the closing act.

NC:
It was just a great honor for me!

I was so glad to sing there …stadium included 40 thousand people. The show was televised as well.
TR:
Making her entrance , Nafset is on a platform which rises above the rest of the entertainers and participants on the field.

[Audio: Nafset begins to sing!]

The Olympic torch is extinguished as Nafset holds her final note!
[Audio: Nafset softly holding that final note]

NC:
It’s unforgettable experience for me!
TR:
unforgettable!

NC:
Maybe I am an Idealist but it’s my dream.

TR:
You continue to follow your dream!

TR:
Maybe her entrance during the Sochi performance is symbolic of things to come. Nafset rising above all – perhaps all of the obstacles on her path toward fulfilling her dream. Her passion represented by the fire can only be extinguished by Nafset herself.

You have to respect anyone pursuing their dream. Especially those who can  still find time for gratitude when things don’t seem to be going as they wish.

NC:
I just want to say I’m very happy  to have the experience in United States. Today I can tell the people here in Russia about the things that we don’t have here but you have there in the United States. I’m very thankful to all the American companies who work out the software and different technical devices to improve our lives. I really feel very thankful.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Nafset or supporting her dream;
check out her go fund me
http://bit.ly/Nafset That’s
bit.ly/Capital N lower case A F S E T

This is Thomas Reid, .

NC: “Unfortunately we have no choice”
Thomas usually concludes with some silly self-effacing close![]

for Gatewave Radio
Audio for Independent Living!

If you’re listening to this via the podcast or Sound Cloud and want to check out the YouTube video or link to Nafset’s Go Fund Me, go on over to Reid My Mind.com where I have all the links.

A final thought as I was producing this story…

One of the things I always loved and miss about living and working  in New York City is the variety of people.
Among  most of my friends and family, I’m one of the only people who didn’t mind riding the subway. I loved people watching and the occasional spontaneous conversations  that either I would be a part of or have the chance to overhear or basically ease drop.

Interviewing different people  for me brings back a similar feeling. Especially speaking with those I’d otherwise never have a chance to randomly meet.
Like those in a different country from other cultures sharing their experience.

You just listened to  two people from very different back grounds in countries that were once  the greatest enemies.

I guess I’m old enough where I still am amazed and appreciate the technology involved in making this conversation possible.

The conversation itself took place on our iPhones via Face time Audio.
It was just a few years ago that the idea of a phone with a touch screen
was believed to be a poor reflection of the future of accessibility for those who are blind.

I’m still impressed that our Wi-Fi connection held up as packets of information were sent back and forth from the Poconos in Pennsylvania, USA  to Moscow in Russia.

Maybe it’s just my level of Geekiness that thinks that stuff is still pretty cool! And Nafset , reminds me to continue to be thankful!

Thanks for listening!{Or Reading!}

Peace!