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Chavar Dontae Brings Some Soulby Emily Rippe
Published: 01/26/2012 7:00 am
Recording artist Chavar Dontae has been instrumental in keeping Toledo's music scene alive and eclectic throughout the years. As a former member of various jazz groups and patron of well-respected establishments like Rusty's and Murphy's, Dontae will never forget his roots, no matter where his creative endeavors lead him.
"I will always consider Toledo home," Dontae said. "I came up on the original music scene here."
Skilled as a jazz and classical guitarist (with a B.M. in Guitar Performance from BGSU), Dontae has dabbled in fashion, music production, acting, and lately, filmmaking. His experiences have taken him all over the place, spending significant time in NYC, Atlanta, L.A., and Europe.
"The culture and energy in those places really changed my perspective," Dontae said. "Besides a few shows in 2009, I really stopped playing and started writing and producing other projects—some hip hop, some electronic, pop and rock. During that time I began moving in a new direction, totally getting outside of my usual writing process and incorporating elements from all of my experiences and travels. That's when I found my voice."
While he still travels quite a bit, Dontae returned to the Glass City in 2011, when he resumed teaching lessons at the Youth Treatment Center through the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. He also wrote and co-produced the EP, "indiesoulrocknroll: about a girl from westland" with the help of long-time friend and supporter Dylan Ely (who has worked with artists including Linkin Park, Ludacris, and Cyndi Lauper). The EP was released in June 2011 from Detroit's Submerge Recordings, and features the tracks "Smile," "On My Way," "One More Try (It's Complicated)," "New Day," and "Don't Leave." All five songs were written and arranged by Dontae himself.
"The EP is a juxtaposition of soul rock and indie electronic music,' Dontae said. "I wrote those songs all over the country, wherever I was at the moment. It's a musical and emotional journey. It's coming to terms with the truth and being honest with myself. Allowing myself to be vulnerable."
As it turns out, a little vulnerability goes a long way. Out of the EP came an equally revealing video project that has recently garnered national media attention, with Dontae receiving press from Cliche Magazine, LX-GOODs and NME Magazine's website. The On My Way film includes a segment from "Don't Leave" and the original version of "On My Way" from the EP, as well as the "On My Way (Star Signal Remix)."
Shot on location in Toledo, On My Way was a collaborative effort between film director Nathan Elias and Dontae. The film features appearances by Dontae and Toledoan Stephanie Wandtke, as well as numerous Toledo landmarks like the Toledo Museum of Art, St. Clair Street and the Old West End neighborhood.
"We decided to film it here and include local elements because it's our reality. It's how we see see the world; it is our world," Dontae said. "Perhaps the same reason John Hughes shot many of his films in Illinois. I wanted to share the beautiful things I see everyday in my neighborhood that inspire me."
Chavar Dontae's EP, "indiesoulrocknroll: about a girl from westland" is available worldwide on iTunes and Amazon. Be sure to check out On My Way at YouTube link below.
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