Exclusive: Chiara speaks to escflashmalta.comWritten by Marc Calleja Bayliss
One of the most important assets in the music industry is definitely experience and we have gone onto talk to one of the most experienced performers from the local sector in the form of three time representative Chiara who up till now has also released four studio albums, three of which are of original material and the other one featuring a number of cover versions. In the past couple of months, Chiara has been reinventing her musical taste noting that she has gone onto a current sound, one which is being played on the radio. She has also joined the cast of entertainment on the programme Ħadd Għalik hosted by Angie Laus on Television Malta (TVM). She has found some time to answer some of our questions about her career in the past, present and even the future!
In the past couple of months, the local music scene has continued to grow in strength and prowess and it seems that this idea has spurred on a lot of people to work even harder. One of the most interesting careers which is still developing to this day is yours noting that you have very much changed since 2009 by virtue of taking up a brand new genre, one which shows a completely different image to what many have become used to over the years. What could you tell us of this sudden change and you should we expected an album any time which would maybe correspond to the new you?
Well, change is something that all of us have to go through and I embrace it always, this change came on me slowly, step by step and as you say now I find myself far from where I began but I am in a good place, I like the way I am singing now and it gives me as much satisfaction as my old ballads did. To be honest albums are always on my mind and I was thinking that all the songs I did in the last couple of years should actually be put on an album to be more reachable to my fans as well, so I cant say I’m not thinking of it.
Your rise to fame commenced during the 1995 edition of the Ghanja tal-Poplu competition when you had entered the competition with the track ‘Ismaghni ftit Habib’ composed by Jason Paul Cassar and penned by Sunny Aquilina. This was just the beginning though because despite the fact that the song had a strong message, you returned with an even more iconic track in the form of ‘It-Tlett Ibliet’. Competing against some of the countries’ leading talent, you still managed to achieve the results but looking back at the beginning, would you consider taking part in a festival in which you would have to perform in Maltese again or is that part of your career completely over?
Malta is my beloved country so singing in Maltese gives me a certain satisfaction. I love to sing in Maltese but taking part in festivals is over for me. Obviously The Eurovision for me is just part of my life and “Chiara” so I am not talking about it. I would go to Eurovision even tomorrow if I had the chance as it is such an important part of my life and carreer and also as I am a big fan. But competing in other festivals, I don’t think I would be comfortable doing that anymore.
Entering the Malta Song for Europe for the first time in 1998, you were gunning up against some of the most notable names in the local music industry at the time including former representatives Georgina and Miriam Christine Warner as well as notable runner-up Claudette Pace yet the track that you presented entitled ‘The One That I Love’ composed by Jason Paul Cassar and penned by Sunny Aquilina was the one that made the upset and ultimately, the decision did pay off because Malta was just a couple of points away from winning in Birmingham. What can you recall of winning over here on our shores and being so close to victory abroad?
It was overwhelming, I still think back today and feel all the astonishment I had that night, and still feel the grandness of what happened to me. I feel that that night, maltese people opened a door for me which gave me so much, It was what made me fall in love with the festival and what gave me all my fans around Europe who today, after all these years have become personal friends, so it is a very deep emotion for me to think of the festival in 1998. the victory was very close and up till today when I watch the last part of the festival of 1998 I still half expect Macedonia to give Malta 12 points and we win..but unfortunately it never happens!
When asked about the possibility of future participation back then, you never discounted it and therefore, when you submitted two tracks to the competition in 2005, the people were somewhat excited to see what you were ready to bring to the table this time round. Both of the tracks being ‘Angel’ and ‘Sail Away’ would make the album cut and are still very much favourites of the public but you had to take up a song which you believed could take you all the way and chose the former. Do you believe that your second song would have been received differently by the respective viewers of the Eurovision Song Contest?
I can never say how it would have been, I think I made the right choice with Angel. Being that I wrote angel myself for me it was very special and I am always very glad to be able to transmit this special feeling to the audience in front of me, I know that today Angel is special not just for me but for a lot of people around Europe too.
We are moving forward in time and this brings us to your final participation up to this point in time as you made one final return in 2009 with the track ‘What If We’ composed by Marc Paelinck and penned by Gregory Bilsen. When speaking about this participation, you cited that it was clearly representative of your fathers’ wishes and ultimately when it won in Malta, the track was received well. In the semi-finals of the foreign competition, you made it through to the final stage for the first time since 2004 when Julie & Ludwig had done the honour with ‘On Again .. Off Again’. Three years on, many people believe that the track was not as strong as other material that you have presented to the competition but would you have done anything differently or do you believe that you were in the right?
In this industry you sing because you love singing but you have to be loved by your audience or else the sense is gone out of what you do, so I never say I was in the right, obviously it is a matter of opinion and my fans opinion is very important to me. What if we at that point in my life was very strong for ma, also because of the emotions wrapped around the passing of my father so I would not change a thing. Although I do agree with most of them that probably the remix of What If We would have been more effective but as you know it is very difficult to change a song after you have won a national selection with it.
The Public Broadcasting Services have seemingly shown increased attention to the participation of Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years having taken up the competition under their wing directly and initiating a former format to the national final, one which includes both a semi-final and a final round giving the majority of the weighing to a panel of jury, most of which are foreign. Nevertheless, the issue lies at hand that despite this, the favourite of the public has triumphed two years in a row due to the fact that he achieved a respectable top three placing by the same professionals. Do you believe that the system needs to be altered in order to have more of a representative feel?
I feel that the Maltasong is becoming more and more professional and I like the fact that they are always changing and keeping up with the times. I feel that the people’s opinion is very important as when we go to eurovision its people like maltese in other countries who will then vote for our song, true if you are famous here it helps, but this happens in all the countries not just in malta and we always have the jury to balance it out so I don’t think I would alter anything just now. Some countries go out of their way and get singers from all over the world to try and win the festival, again it is a matter of opinion and of how strongly the country would like to actually win the Eurovision at the end.
Keeping in line with the present, just a couple of weeks ago, Malta was rerpesented int he Eurovision Song Contest by Kurt Calleja and his band who performed the tune ‘This Is The Night’ written by Johan Jämtberg, Mikael Gunnerås and the main performer himself. During the semi-final, there had been a lot of talk that the performance was crucial to whether our country could qualify for the very first time since you had done so in 2009 and when the eighteen (18) semi-finalists had performed, many had been saying that we had a very good chance and ultimately, we did qualify only to suffer a disappointing result in the final, one place better than you had achieved. What was the difference from one performance to another in your opinion and what is your view about the winning entry?
Euphoria for me started the race with a lot of advantage, It is a song that captures you immediately when you hear it and in my opinion it was a full set of things which made it win. Sweden have been working really hard for the past years to win , the song is an amazing piece, the production of the song put Euphoria above all the others in the festival and Loreen is captivating on stage, her presence steals your attention for the whole duration of her song. It was just the winner without doubts. As for the performance of Kurt, I must say that the performance of Thursday was amazing, they were very concentrated and it showed, i felt personally that Saturday was a little bit different but I do understand that the pressure and all the responsibility of the final night can play tricks on you, so I still think they did really well also on the final night.
Chiara has been involved in a number of projects in recent weeks noting that the past year has been quite busy with activities both on local and foreign soil bringing about people of different countries together to enjoy your music. One of the most recent activities that comes to mind is a tribute to the Late Whitney Houston in a concert in which you featured as a guest performer to the lead performer of the evening being none other than former Malta Eurosong runner-up Eleanor Cassar. Each experience is surely a different one but what do you draw from each one and do you have anything coming up in the weeks and months to come?
I am now preparing to go to Germany for a concert I will do there with Hera Bjork from Iceland and other Eurovision singers. For me every performance gives me a new memory to be proud of, by now I have come to know so many singers who I love and I am very proud to say I sang with them. When I sing in Malta its always more special as my Maltese audience is my family and I want to give them my best , also singing with singers like Eleanor and other maltese singers for me is more special and emotional as these singers are actually my personal friends so for me it is honour when I am asked to take part in such concerts.
This years’ edition of the Eurovision Song Contest has just finished but many countries are already preparing for the next one which will be held in Sweden. The Public Broadcasting Services is yet to formally announce their participation even though it seems that the positive showing this year would be enough to consolidate our future in the competition. Should the rule of the former participants be lifted, would you be tempted to the return and hopefully represent Malta for a fourth time in the competition and if so, would you fuse the elements that you have encompassed throughout the years together or would you take one style and make sure it is well represented?
As I always say if I was given half a chance I would go back to eurovision tomorrow!! I love the festival and it would be a great honour for me to be entrusted with this important task to represent my country once again. I have also been asked by other countries quite a lot of times to represent them in the Eurovision but till now I am still waiting for another chance to represent my own Malta before I actually go for someone else. But I can never say I will never go again, It is a wish of mine to be there amongst the fans once again. As for the style, it would depend on the particular place I would be at the time so I can’t say what it would be.
Would you like to say anything to your fans and our readers at escflashmalta.com?
There is one thing I always say to my fans and I will always repeat, and it is THANK YOU , for everything you have given me, for the chance to share my music and emotions with you and the luck of getting to know you and love you so much. Richness for me is not money, it is the collection of people who surround you in your life, and you make me richer every year and I will be grateful forever. I promise to always do my best to make you proud of being my fans.
Source: escflashmalta.com, JJ Chircop Photography