Britt Chase-Shellee is a storyteller, and boy, does she have a lot of stories to tell. Her larger-than-life presence is quick to envelope a room and it’s not just because of her model-like stature but also because of her passion for life.
Born in the United States, Britt was raised in Kalibo, Aklan to missionary parents, Paul and Shoddy Chase who eventually built New Life Church.
She says, “There are no more two polar opposites cultures than that of the collective East and the individual West and I have both cultures swirling in my head, my heart, and my DNA.”
Growing up in Kalibo exposed Britt to a Boracay that is different from what we know now, “I lived through military coups, I’ve seen violence at a young age, I’ve held abandoned babies and witnessed miracles of love.”
The nature of her parents’ work also had her and her two younger brothers moving around a lot, “I went to seven different schools before graduating high school because of all the moving. I’ve been home schooled, sponsored to attend fancy schools, and eventually ended up in Faith Academy.”
She goes on to say that she has experienced everything from being picked on for her looks to her trying out modeling because of it, “Life and people are quite strange.”
It is these experiences as a “third culture kid” that has created a different kind of empathy in Britt who has always written about how I felt, “Everything I wrote down into songs and stories for as long as I can remember.”
It is also through music that she has learned to express herself, “It is in music that I found all the naming of things I was missing. I found a way to be angry, a way to ask questions, and how best to tell a story.”
Britt was born a singer and through the support of her parents, she started singing in church at an early age.
She traveled with her dad who preached while she sang songs, even original ones, in different churches in the
States. She did so until she was 13 when she stopped, ‘Call it the age, call it more “naming of things,’ but I told myself that I won’t be singing like this again for a long time. I guess I was entering a phase where I was darker and it was time for me to take a moment and find my voice. It took a very long time.”
In fact, Britt focused less on singing and more on acting and writing and spent time in New York where she contracted the West Nile Virus. She spent two horrible weeks in the hospital. The sickness led to her leaving her dream city New York to recuperate back home and that is when she felt depressed and felt like a failure.
But looking back now she can only see it as a blessing, “The painful thing turned out to be a good thing because all I could do was write and compose, and recover strength, and battle with thoughts and cry and reach for my pen, and heal, and accept love, and be humble and get stronger.”
It was after this ordeal that she sang again. She also found her musical soulmate, Popoy Uy, who took a chance to work with her and developed her into a stronger writer by being honest in the songwriting process, “I have the utmost respect for him and would love to work with him again.”
This moment led to her first album, “High on Maybe.”
“I was prescribed a lot of drugs by my doctors when I was recovering and it was a difficult time but what got me through was the thought of, ‘maybe just maybe I can get through this,” says the talented artist.
It was hope in the maybe that got her through. She also says her title track “High on Maybe” is dedicated to her mother who held her hand in the hospital many times, refusing to give up. She also shares the pain of love lost, disillusionment, and chasing after something that will never be caught.
A track titled “Back on Sunday” is also an ode to her parents. She says, “I sing about wanting not to go on and
yet you do. I sing about my friend Meri, whose light was put out too early. But all through the dark and deep red, there is a surfacing. These songs are also characters and I hope they speak to people in a way that nothing else can.”
High on Maybe is available on iTunes. For more, follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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