Ready to Bloom
For Chloe Flower, classical pianist and hip-hop collaborator, it’s more than music.
by DAVID “REK” LEE
Chloe Flower loved the piano ever since she was 2. If you asked her mom, she would tell you her daughter used to dance and get really excited over certain classical pieces. It’s the kind of story you might hear a Korean mom bore dinner guests with, but there is a twist. The pianist’s latest accomplishment is working with Nas, arguably one of the greatest rappers of all time, on his latest album, Life is Good. It’s the kind of achievement our parents wouldn’t understand, maybe even frown at, but our ears would certainly perk up at. And that’s the point.
Chloe wants to make classical music exciting again. Like any serious musician, she worked on developing a solid foundation for herself before setting out to accomplish any lofty goals. She studied with a number of renowned music teachers, including Zenon Fishbein at the Manhattan School of Music, the late Herbert Stessin at Juilliard and Aaron Shorr at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
“I did a lot of conservatory training, not pop at all,” she says.
Nowadays, the Pennsylvania native is under the tutelage of more contemporary artists. After meeting legendary producer Babyface at one of his concerts, the two linked up to work on her debut album, set for release some time next year. She admits she didn’t know who he was at first but soon found out.
“He produced all of my favorite bands like TLC, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. So I got in touch with his manager … and I emailed him the music, flew to L.A., played him the music, and that was it. It was actually very easy,” she says.
Hey, things happen when real recognizes real. Events transpired in a similar fashion after meeting producer Swizz Beats at a performance, who would later recruit her for the Nas record. “I didn’t even know who Nas was until like two years ago,” she said, laughing. “I didn’ t know who anybody was. I was kind of in a very classical world, living in my own bubble.”
As naive as she might have been about industry matters, Chloe knows what matters most to her. She works closely with an anti-human-trafficking organization called the Somaly Mam Foundation. If you listen to her single “Revolution,” it’s a fiery anthem accompanied by aggressive handclaps and shakers. Classical music over hip-hop beats. But when you ask her about it, it becomes clear there’s more to it than just reaching a broader audience. “I’m trying to kill two birds with one stone. I’m trying to build awareness for both classical music and human trafficking through music. Who wants to sit around and talk about 2-year-olds being raped 30 times a day? It’s not really fun to talk about,” she says.
Influential physician and writer Deepak Chopra only became hip to the cause through Chloe and is now doing his part, spreading awareness and contributing a spoken word piece on her project.
“He’s traveled all over the world, he’s best friends with everybody important, and he did not realize there were these 2- and 3-year-olds being trafficked and forced into prostitution,” she says. “If Deepak doesn’t know about it, I’m pretty sure the average person doesn’t know about it either.”
Chloe is still relatively new to the industry but with collaborations that include individuals such as Nas and Deepak Chopra, you know she’s set to make an impact that resounds far beyond any record sales (especially when she’s committed to donating all proceeds to her upcoming album to charity).
We can’t wait to see what she accomplishes in full bloom.
This article was published in the September 2012 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the September issue, click the “Buy Now” button below.