ECCO MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Linda “Chocolate” Berthier

black and beautifulMusic, she says, is not her career, but her lifestyle! “If I stop singing, I think I might just stop breathing,” the ever delightful Linda “Chocolate” Berthier laughs, her eyes burning with passion.

Born to a musical family, Chocolate’s childhood bedtimes was filled with the sweet strains of the acoustic guitar, with her father strumming the instrument. She grew up listening to the great classics from the Commodores, to Frank Sinatra Earth Wind and Fire and countless more Gospel, and Country & Western favorites. Meanwhile Chocolate would be cozy up in her room with her trusty dual cassette player turned recorder by use of a headphone attached to the back; singing her own favorites in different harmonies, recording each to create a play back Chocolate Symphony of alto, soprano, tenor, unison and melody.

Other times she’d sit for hours with headphone on, listening and singing along to music greats like Whitney Houston, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Paula Abdul, and John Secada’s English and Spanish songs!

Her first performance before an audience occurred when she was only five-years-old—singing before her church congregation, her very first original song to God on behalf of her who aunt was sick at the time.

Reminiscing on that experience, Chocolate recalls “I wrote it mentally in Sunday school, and the boy next to me was so irritated about my constant singing he reported me to the teacher. The loving teacher made me sing to the class and later that day to the entire congregation. I still have not recovered from that bittersweet experience!”

From there Chocolate’s musical love affair blossomed. As she grew older she continued honing her talents and craft; performing regularly at church. It wasn’t long before she graced the national stage in St Lucia and began working with prominent St Lucian and regional artists like Jeff “Pele” Elva, Ronald “Boo” Hinkson, Junior Tucker, TC Brown, Zionomi, Emrand Henry, performing duets or recording backing vocals onstage and music albums.dancehall

She admits that she was initially timid about taking the steps to recording her own originals and pushing herself as an artist. She credits her good friend Werner “Semi” Francis for giving her that push and urging her to do her own music as well.

Chocolate who wears many hats—singer, songwriter, recording artist, registered nurse, wife, mother of two adorable twins—says like her multi-faceted life, her inspiration comes from many places.

“First of all from my mother who taught me what unconditional, unwavering and spiritual love is,” she offers. “I sometimes sleep and wake up in the night with a new song in my head from start to finish; Music composed and all. I listen to other great artists and feel inspired by their drive and energy. I spend time with my higher power and get more inspiration to write, and just day-to-day experiences cause me to put pen to paper. At work when I start singing I don’t realize it until a patient or colleague makes mention of it. So I really cannot stop myself.  I can only explain it by saying that ‘Music is I and I Am Music.’ I feel the urge to add ‘Love & Music is my Religion,’” she grins, her vivacious laughter resounding in the room.

For her part, Chocolate describes her music as contemporary, music for all, with a message of love.

“It’s all about love,” she says. “Loving yourself, loving your enemies, loving life like every day is the last day. Loving the sounds and vibrations around you, through your headphones, car stereo, and music system at home. It’s about breathing in fresh fragrances of life all around seeing every day for what it is; a miracle that should not be taken for granted. Which is why, though I have had a challenging past, I smiled every day. I owe this ability to my mother because she was what I just described; A Lover of life and people regardless of the circumstances,”

She goes on: “Everyone needs love and love heals everyone in all states and phases. Whether you’re happy or sad, you can never stop hearing positive, quality, and infectious music. Scady Dot P described my voice on the ‘Yo Magazine’ as “Sultry” and I do agree. When I listen back, I couldn’t understand what others said with words like raspy, soulful but after really opening up my mind and heart to my voice, I hear that it is bleeding emotions and positive vibrations straight from my heart through my lips.”

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Chocolate considers her perspective of life and music as one of her greatest musical accomplishments. The fact that she is no longer shy and afraid to express herself musically.

“I am very happy to define my own meaning of self and my beliefs. Yes I am grateful for gaining music Awards from the Marlin Awards and St. Lucia Music awards, and encouragement from Chocoloverz (fan base aka family), I feel the greatest accomplishment is me happily pushing to achieve my educational goals (Registered Nurse, Certified Midwife, Bachelors Degree in Public Health with Honors), while still producing music that I love.”

She credits her successes to date, and her ability to wear so many hats on her natural inborn drive and what she describes as the “Stubborn ‘Yes I Can’” gene which resonates on both sides of her family, driving them to take risks to invest in their passions and to flourish.

Yet even so, Chocolate says she would have never been able to do it all had it not been for spiritual guidance, her supportive family and praying mother. “As I grow older, I am thankful for being raised in the understanding of depending on the Higher Power to take the wheel as I Co-Pilot the journey.”

Keep up to date with Chocolate’s journey:

 

—Written by Christine “Chrycee” Charlemagne

 

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