Cynthia Basinet (Interviewed Fall 2001)
Singer, actress, model, humanitarian. These are all words used when describing Cynthia Basinet to the curious. After years of walking the world’s catwalks, appearing in countless music videos, and generally swaying the eyes of Hollywood onlookers and bigwigs, Cynthia has emerged as one of the Internet’s most popular artists. She has reached worldwide success with her rendition of the Christmas classic”Santa Baby”garnering #1 overall at mp3.com, where she recently broke the 200,000 listen mark. The host of her own live CamChat Wednesdays at 12:00 PST, Ms. Basinet reaches out to her fans and lets them in on what makes her tick. Recently she reached out to help the cause of struggling refugees in the Sahara with a journey to see first hand what she could do. We chatted online about a number of things, from her home in Hollywood California….
Mb: Cynthia, you there?
cynthia: Yo…sleeves are rolled up.
Mb: What are you up to today?
cynthia: Answering fan mail
Mb: How often do you do that?
cynthia: Well do you want an obsessive answer or a normal one?
cynthia: About 2-3 times a week.
Mb: What do most fans write about?
cynthia: How much my voice inspires them or touches them. It’s kinda cool.
Mb: And how do you respond?
cynthia : UH…. BUY MY CD!! Nah, kiddin’. Just that I consider it an honour and am interested in who they are too. What brought them to the music? What are their interests in life? And everywhere are these really cool people doing something on this earth. Don’t know if you want to print that question.
Mb: Why not?
cynthia: Makes it seem like I psyche them out or something.
Mb: Maybe you do… that can be a real part of inspiring people.
cynthia: Yeah… that’s me, Miss Inspirer.
Mb: So who inspired you to go to the Sahara? Someone psyche you out?
cynthia: Received it via e-mail.
Mb: You got an email and that was enough? I’ll send you one to come visit us too!
cynthia: It was what I felt when the simple request came in. And I knew it was a gift. So I said “yes” immediately. Then researched all about the refugees and was pleased to know who they were and was honoured to help.
Mb: Who asked you? Who sent the email?
cynthia: Mr.Carlos Wilson of the US-WSF, United States Western Sahara Fund.
Mb: And what did they ask?
cynthia: If I would be interested in a fact finding mission to raise awareness and aid to the Sahrawis.
Mb: What did you find?
cynthia says: What did i find? I found the most peace. Honour. Faith. Care and sharing. Compassion. I saw betrayal. Hardships endured. Pride. What did i find? I found the most peace. Honour. Faith. Care and sharing. Compassion. I saw betrayal. Hardships endured. Pride.
Mb: Were you right inside the camps?
cynthia: Yes, visited three of the four camps.
Mb: Describe them for us.
cynthia: Well….There is sand for miles and miles. You arrive to a small outpost where you are waved through… pass a few that are waiting in the heat for a ride… travel for about a mile across the sand. Seein’ in the distance a mixture of tents and simple houses made from the sand. Children. Wrapped women waving. All have curiosity peaked. All hoping you will not only find and see their value of self determination… but the belief in it. What makes their society worth fighting for. Worth making a stand for. For returning back to our homes not forgetting them. That was the most poignant feeling of all. I was accompanied by a very nice entourage which made the trip all the more… meaningful. I had processed so many emotions before going… as did my photographer friend, Patricia Roseman, whose sense of compassion opened us all further. The children crowding around her. Like bees to honey.
Mb: When you met these people, did you imagine you could help them?
cynthia: Well… First, I felt an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. Then it faded to sure acceptance of the adventure. Then meeting with officials the shift occurred. And then I saw a game plan. Finally, communicating that, was the gift I had gone seeking. And that is what makes them all so great. They had given me my “Mecca”.
Mb: What was your experience with the officials like?
cynthia: We met with different ones. With different levels of empowerment, but most with the same desire, belief and faith in the Sahrawis and the UN supported referendum. This is in relation to the officials outside of the issue, meaning the UN, MINURSO, Algerian officials.
Mb: Did you meet with resistance to you being there?
cynthia: Ah… the resistance.
Mb: There’s a school of thought that speaks to white intervention being bad. Feel any of that?
cynthia: Oh gosh no. I felf the only thing might be, the constant getting your hopes up then nothing… but I saw a society that is so sharing. They did not seem to be on the outside observing and judging. I mean heck, they will share the W. Sahara with the settlers from Morroco.
Mb: So what will you do with this new insight?
Mb: Mobilize who?
cynthia: All that are seeking a peaceful resolution to their dilemma as it is one that runs a common thread through many displaced societies. Now with the power of the Internet, a new form of foreign policy has evolved.
Mb: And with that we can…. ?
cynthia: Links efforts….whether it be aid, a quick e-mail to representatives. And if nothing else, a moment to give pause to the value of all members that make our world so great. That perhaps one of the children saved will have the answer to a coming disease or foreign conflict.
Mb: The Internet holds the potential with such vast numbers?
cynthia: With a click of a button, baby.
Mb: You’ve been empowered by the Internet. What’s made it so comfortable for you?
cynthia: Very empowered. It’s called flow…
Mb: How did you first find the Internet?
cynthia: It was something I had been following and believed in since the late 60’s, early 70’s, and finally saw the link when launching my music in the fall of ’99 at the millennium’s end.
Mb: What link?
cynthia: The emergence of MP3 technology.
Mb: So you loaded up tunes at mp3.com… what did you think would happen?
cynthia: I originally, was just hoping for a gig on New Year’s Eve… and then BOOM! Pandora’s box opened… I heard on the radio how all the entertainers were working NYE like Streisand, etc. Then I heard about someone auctioning off a bridge on ebay.com… and put it together by having the songs available on Mp3.com, which happened by meeting a fellow Mp3.com artist Ernesto Cortazar… then I got my first e-mail from a fan in Toronto, Fern Reid of f7studio.com and she put me on the map thanks to the information highway….
Mb: How long ago was that?
cynthia: Late Oct. ’99 or maybe Nov.
Mb: So do you like the Internet experience?
Mb: what do you like about it?
cynthia: As I said it flows…
Mb: As opposed to real life that stands still?
Mb: Interesting… where do you think it flows to?
cynthia: Where does the universe flow to?
Mb: Around… I guess.
cynthia: For the last century we have been tested by physicality….ie judgement. First, women’s rights, then Civil rights, then gay rights… The Internet travels without “skin” therefore without boundaries… or limits.
Mb: Let’s talk about your music for a minute. You had another big success with “Santa Baby” last Christmas, two years in a row. What was that like?
cynthia: A silent victory. A 28-year dream realized.
Mb: Have you seen the dark side yet?
cynthia: Of everything, baby… of everything.
Mb: Of the Internet?
cynthia: Well, like anything, I am careful as to what I give my energy to… but I know what exists…
Mb: What are your plans with the web for the future?
cynthia: I would like to now merge all the worlds. Music, Hollywood, the Internet.
Mb: How do you see that happening?
Mb: Money will make it happen?
cynthia: It sure speeds it up alot. 😉 But you can’t give power to it… you must as I said… go with the flow. I’ve always been a sort of bridge, I guess.
Mb: So, what about your live CamChats… do you find reaching the fan that way works in bridging the sterile nature of the internet?
cynthia: It’s totally cool. Just tired of letting my fingers do the walkin’ though…
Mb: So, what would you like to say to anyone reading this?
cynthia: Live life. Look for what it is and not for what it’s not.
Mb: And visit your website for some inspiration?
cynthia: Ok… if so is the desire…. Now can I go out and play?