Submitted by Mike Williams — Managing Editor (@imikewilliams)
Former "American Idol" contestant Su Charles known as SuCh, her stage name performs at Beyu Caffe in Durham on Saturday.
We caught up with the 27-year-old singer before her flight to the Triangle to discuss "Idol" (of course), her album and her plans when her tour ends. We also touched on what went through the singers mind when she heard about the shootings last summer in Aurora, Colorado. Charles, who lives in Aurora, was only a few miles away at another movie complex when the shootings happened.
It reminded me that life is short, and that it's really important to love yourself and those around you, she said. And let them know often.
Here are seven questions with Su Charles.
Q: So, your birth name is Su Charles. Where does your stage name come from?
SuCh is comprised of the first two letters of my first name and the first two letters of my last name! Get it? :)
Also the word "such" is used in two ways: to exemplify (such as...), and to amplify (such good music). I want to exemplify and amplify all that is good, beautiful and real and put it into song.
Q: Your father is a pastor, and you have two sisters. Women ruled the house! How do those two things influence your music?
Well, I grew up singing in the church. I think my first solo was in the children's choir at the age of 6 or 7. Both of my sisters sing (one of them is a professional jazz vocalist), so singing was part of our everyday lives. I also started to play piano at 6 and the flute at 8, and I was a part of choirs and singing groups all through elementary, middle and high school. Music was and always will be my outlet! I love it!
Q: Tell me about the "American Idol" experience. You finished in the top 75 during season 11. Obviously you wanted to win the competition, but what did you take away from the experience?
The "American Idol" experience was life changing! I learned so much about myself as an artist. I learned that I do have what it takes. I soaked up all I could about the music industry. It was also so much fun, I was able to meet and connect with other people with the same dreams, and made some lifelong friends.
But most importantly, I learned that no matter how many times I hear the word "no" or [no matter] who says it to me, I will continue to pursue my dream. So I released an album three months after I was eliminated, and I produced and recorded it entirely in my basement with my band members. I definitely think that "Idol" lit a fire under my butt.
Q: What was it like to meet host Ryan Seacrest and the "Idol" judges?
It was too cool. During the celebrity judge round, I told them I was called the black Barbra Streisand by the musical director of my church. But then I sang "Natural Woman" and received three yeses to go to Hollywood! I remember thinking, "Wow, I can really do this!" Jennifer Lopez is beautiful in person, Steven Tyler is down to earth and fun, and Randy is just cool! Ryan Seacrest was a lot shorter than he appears on TV (but people say the same about me lol). One thing you can't help noticing immediately about him is that he truly is really good at what he does.
Q: You grew up sort of all over, but Aurora, Colorado, is home now. What went through your head when you heard about the tragic shooting last year?
Actually, I was at another midnight showing a few miles away that night. And the crazy thing was that I had been really close to purchasing tickets at Century 16 that night. I was devastated to hear of such a tragedy. It reminded me that life is short, and that it's really important to love yourself and those around you. And let them know often.
Q: Love your album "Stretch Marks." What was your mindset going in to record it? What's the meaning of the title?
Thank you! "Stretch Marks" chronicles periods in my life where I've been torn apart and put together again. The context is, life is beautiful, not pretty or sexy. What makes it worth living are the things that stretch us, push us beyond our limits, spark the fire in us to be better, stronger, wiser. I believe that stretch marks are scars; they remind us of the things we have overcome. Instead of viewing them negatively, why not embrace them and be proud of your battle and war scars, and wear them proudly? I wanted to be vulnerable and give my listeners the inside scoop on who I am.
Q: What's it like touring and performing the music you created? Excited about bringing the tour to Durham this weekend? Ever been here?
It is truly incredible! It has been a blessing to be able to go to different cities and perform my original music. It's a dream come true. I say this all the time, but there is nothing like singing your own music (I love singing covers; don't get me wrong). There's just something special about people singing along and enjoying your original music. My fans are where it's at; they're crazy supportive. Without them I'm nothing.
Yes, I'm so excited about performing at Beyu Caffe! Actually my parents live in the Raleigh/Durham area! So I come to NC at least once a year!
Fans can expect to go on a musical and lyrical journey with me. My whole band is with me, so we're going to have a good time!