I really want to thank Mark Zuckerberg because of his work and ingenuity, he created a user-friendly social networking website called Facebook. With Facebook, I was able to get connected with my friends, even though I don’t go out much, found long-lost friends and most recently got to know a lot of new friends, and one of whom is singer-songwriter, musician, host and super DJ, Claressa Monteiro.
I set up shop for my new clothing line called Robe de Princesse on Facebook webpage and I was hugely surprised when I saw that Claressa Monteiro had clicked “Like” on my Facebook webpage Robe de Princesse. I was even more astonished when she agreed to wear my evening and cocktail dresses for her hosting events when I asked her. My first reaction was “Oh my goodness, Claressa Monteiro wants to wear my clothes!”
From the point that Claressa adorn my black chiffon toga evening dress for her hosting gig, I knew she was a very friendly, honest and down-to-earth person. She is a shining star and I am just an online retail shop importing work dresses, evening dresses and cocktail dresses for the Professional Woman. I simply feel very honoured and privileged to be given an opportunity to dress Claressa.
A few weeks after, I invited Claressa to join my book project named “Extraordinary Women” and she accepted the interview graciously. I was elated and I took some time to craft the questions so that they are not too personal, yet my readers will know the real Claressa up-close from reading the post and get to learn and appreciate the super woman she is! Currently she is juggling at least 6 facets of different roles, being a host, singer, songwriter, DJ, mother and wife! I really admire her and I don’t know how she does it but she is juggling her roles very well!
Claressa started vocal training as a child and her parents, who were fans of Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, had exposed her to jazz music at a tender age. To Claressa, jazz music was the sweetest and happiest music she had heard during her childhood. However, as a jazz singer, she now tends to stay away from the “tortured” jazz repertoire because to her, jazz music meant joy and sweetness.
I asked Claressa if she was a “born singer” or “trained singer”. She was of the view that no matter how talented you are, to be successful as a musician, you need proper training. She opined that music education and application must take over, or else there might be no growth and development no matter how good your vocals are.
Apart from making music, being a DJ was something Claressa wanted to explore. She was given the golden opportunity when her A&R Manager at Universal Studio asked Bernard Lim if there was a space on his roster for Claressa and the rest is history. Being a DJ, you are never far from music and in fact, you are also surrounded by music. As a DJ, you need to appreciate music, keep your cool under pressure and sound cheery and chirpy to all your listening fans whilst all hells might have broken loose in the recording studio.
In the interview, I asked Claressa many questions about motherhood and the first question was how she felt when she knew she was going to be a mom. Her answer was simple and it was “Tears of Joy”. I also asked her if she was prepared for her pregnancy and she asserted that all pregnancies are unique and different for each mother-to-be, so no matter how many pregnancy guide books you might have read, you are never really ready to become a mother.
Claressa was very lucky and fortunate because her husband was extremely supportive to her during her pregnancies. He had even gone to the extent to beg for an Orange Julius at 1am in the early morning when Claressa had her cravings during pregnancy. Despite of all the care taken, Claressa did not have easy labours and had to endure traumatic birth experiences for both her children. Nonetheless, all turned out good and she is very grateful to be able to have 2 great children.
With children in her life, Claressa revealed that she has become less self-centred and more willing to sacrifice, especially when it comes to her children. She gave up huge earning opportunities because she did not want to miss her children’s first words, first steps and first day at school. After her second child was born, she even gave up her lucrative music career so that she could spend more time with her children. Everyone told her that being a housewife would kill her career, but she was of the view that she was a mother to her children first and career comes next. She stayed home for 4 years and returned to the music scene afterwards. It was difficult at first but with her sheer grit and hard work, and for many who believed in her like Ebel Watch, The Peak Magazine, The Ritz Carlton and also Universal Studio, she has become even more successful than before.
With her arduous and hard schedules, it seems Claressa needs 32 hours every day but she makes it work with 24 hours. From the interview, I get strong vibes that Claressa is extremely proud of her 2 boys. She and her husband, always taught their children to speak their minds, to be righteous and honest and that failure was not the end of the world and it was just a life lesson. She believes that her children, who are equipped with the values like honesty, truth, determination and without the fear of failing, will ultimately succeed and lead fulfilling lives. For Claressa, she expects nothing from her 2 children and her only hope for them is that they have no qualms about chasing their dreams, living their lives to the fullest and be happy.
For this Super Mommy Claressa, she wanted her children to be as Singaporean as they can be, so she enrolled them into local schools. She expects them to complete their National Service prior to talks of any overseas education. Claressa bonds with her children by spending her little free time with them in mind. She joins her children on the activities that they like to do, such as riding the most exhilarating rides at Universal Studio, cycling with them and getting all dirty by crawling all over the place in The Forest Adventure.
In 2002, Claressa became the first South-East Asian music artiste to release her first jazz album entitled “Now and Then” with Universal Music. It would be a lifetime achievement for any local music artiste, but for Claressa, she felt very humbled and grateful by the opportunity given to her to release the album. She also stressed that whatever breaks she had, she had worked hard to achieve and deserve them and will continue doing so.
Claressa also related that she had given up many lucrative singing and contractual opportunities but the decision to give up came very naturally because for her, her boys and family always come first. Now that her children are much bigger, she feels a lot more balanced and at ease to chase after work opportunities before the sun sets down on her career.
To wrap-up the interview, I asked Super Mommy Claressa what was the most recent activity she had with her family and she replied that she had spent a spectacular weekend with her family at Sentosa doing almost everything like iFly, Wavehouse and Megazip.