When I was about seven years old, I wrote a list of things I wanted to achieve and places I wanted to visit in my lifetime and placed in on my wall. I didn't obsess about the list; it was just my imagination and daydreams taking me from my childhood reality of a one-bedroom home shared with my parents and two sisters in Nannyville Gardens, Jamaica. While I couldn't even identify some of the locations on a map as a seven year old, I created a mental picture of them and for some reason even felt like there was a spiritual connection with these places. While my list of goals was long, my original list of countries to be visited was really short; there were three: Australia, Japan and India.

Cherine Anderson

I was blessed with the opportunity to study and live in Japan for a whole year, and that experience made me realize how big this world really is. It's weird when you go to a foreign country. You are suddenly pushed to not only define who you are, but you also take on the added responsibility of being a flagship for your country. I loved Japan. I loved the language, the food, the technology, the 'quiet', the fashion, the people, and I loved how independent it made me!

Fast forward to 2008, and here I am sitting in my hotel room in Perth, Australia, bringing another country (and continent!) from my childhood dream list into reality. What was supposed to be just a tour has turned out to be an amazing experience. I've just realized that in one trip I have been able to travel to more states in Australia than even some native Australians have, which is kinna crazy. When I learned that I would be touring Australia at first I thought, "Ok, I've heard of Sydney and Melbourne," but that's pretty much all I knew. I've always had a fascination with Aboriginal art (and I learned from my driver in Sydney that there are messages and sometimes stories behind the dots that are on the many paintings). I decided to buy my nine year old niece a Rainmaker Didgeridoo that is painted and crafted in the traditional dreamtime colors depicting native Australian styles. The lady at the store told me it's meant to bring rain, so I guess when we have droughts in Jamaica, my niece will have it handy and she'll just make it rain.

But this wonderful trip was not all vacation. Thanks to Michael Franti & Spearhead I've been fortunate to not only visit but to perform to large and extremely receptive audiences in places like Byron Bay, Brisbane, New Castle, Wollongong, Canberra, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. It's incredible to walk on that stage every night with possibly 98% of the audience having little or no knowledge of Dancehall Soul (these weren't typical reggae audiences), and to witness their transformation during the show. To meet these interesting people night after night and hear their stories and communicate with them online through facebook, myspace and in blogs on my youtube channel afterward has really made my own world so much bigger and better. It took going to the other side of the Earth to prove something to myself; I am truly NOT AFRAID TO LIVE!!!!

Cherine Anderson.

I swam with some of the largest sharks, stingrays, turtles (they had heads about two times the size of mine!) and other sea animals that looked scary as hell! I tried the Morton Bay Bug (this was so delicious, and much like lobster), kangaroo (my first and last time, way too chewy for me, and I enjoy seeing them jumping around more than on my plate)! I still have plans of finding some crocodile, so maybe on my next trip. I also got to record a remix of "All I Want Is You" with Michael in a fabulous studio in Perth. I didn't have a lot of time to shop, but I did receive my new baby; custom fit for my skinny little fingers, a Maton acoustic/electric guitar (thanks to the owner of the Maton guitar factory).

Mostly what I'm leaving Australia with is what was least expected, such gracious love from new wonderful fans. One fan followed us to FIVE different shows, and by the third show he made a huge sign saying, "Cherine you melt me". Michael spotted him in the crowd and brought it to the attention of the well over 4,000 fans in attendance who all went wild. For the first time I didn't know what to say. I was totally blown away in Wollongong when a middle-aged man took off his amputated leg and told me he would be honored to have me sign it. Another fan had me speechless in Canberra when she told me she was so touched by our performance that she wanted me to sign her stomach. She went further to explain that she had miscarried months prior and was blessed to be pregnant again, and the music was so moving she figured she would call this unborn baby melody because 'music is life' and it connects all people from all different places together; I humbly obliged to her request.

I love that I can walk in with no expectations and have the place, the people and the experience put a positive stamp on my mind and heart. In a lot of ways the beaches are somewhat similar to Jamaica (but yaad a yaad and our vibe is priceless). It was also heartwarming to find out that the Australian government made a public apology to the Aboriginal people for the injustices done to them over the years. The uncertainty of the global economy is affecting lives everywhere and most Australians were very keen on the outcome on America's November 4th elections (this was a big topic in most of the interviews I've done while here). While I would have loved to visit the world famous AYERS rock in the middle of the country, I didn't get the chance, but I guess I shouldn't try to do everything in one trip. It will give me greater reasons to return.

Cherine Anderson with an Australian fan.

I don't know where else my imagination or travels will take me next but I know that faith, sacrifice, a positive attitude and determination are a few keys to achieving anything in this world. Sometimes things happen as you imagine, but most times the enormity of the great things is so vast that only in a divine moment do you realize just how far you've come or how many other victories you've won along your journey. My dreams for myself are just as big as my dreams for Jamaica. I stay committed to making my contribution by producing great music and greats films, continuing in the legacy set by those before me like Leonie Forbes, Madge Sinclair, Louise Bennett, Bob Marley, I-Threes, Sly & Robbie among so many others. In closing I reflect on the words of western philosopher Henry David Thoreau, which I would advise to everyone - "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined."

Peace & Continued Blessings,
Text by Cherine Anderson
(Please do not reproduce without permission)