Cynthia Basinet [aka: c], a throwback to an earlier era of sultry styled women of elegance, is an actress, model and recording artist. This gorgeous and highly intelligent redhead began her career as a fashion model in San Francisco. Then on to five more years of international modeling successes in London, Milan and Paris - where she learned to speak fluent French and studied French cinematography. She returned to Los Angeles and soon appeared in music videos for artists such as the incredible Roy Orbison and the Babys. She used her numerous talents as a bridge into acting and appeared in movies, television and in national commercials. Having always been a classically trained musician since her childhood when she first learned to play the flute and sax she began singing. Born in the Los Angeles valley area and raised in Silicon Valley near San Francisco, her parents drove Peugeots, an orange Volvo and host of other odd cars. Her father also rode a motorcycle, had a vintage retired MG TD and was the kind of guy who used to smoke a pipe or sneak a cigar outside of the house. He would talk to Cynthia about the White Owl Girl but mostly he listened to jazz filling her childhood with music and art. Her mother with her classical AM radio station playing in the kitchen and jazz playing on her fathers favorite radio station was the soundtrack of her childhood. According to Cynthia there are two kinds of education. One you give yourself and the other one that life gives you. Two of the best things that ever happened to her, aside from the birth of her son, were the music education in the public schools and in a private catholic high school she attended. A school, where within its walls, thought was allowed and individual diversity was respected. Cynthia is truly thankful that her parents provided both. Music never left her but was contained in this safe little box deep inside until she could finally pursue it. She believes that many mothers can agree that following your dreams kind of comes after you drop the kids off at basketball practice. As a woman it’s hard to keep looking good, exercise, do your nails and your hair while being a singer, a lawyer, this or that and still bring home the bacon, clean the house and raise the kids.
In my first conversations with Cynthia several years ago, this former Ford model and actress had just come through a difficult break with a famous "A" list actor and was turning her energy towards transitioning from acting and modeling, to developing her music career. She had quickly risen to the top of the MP3 charts with her amazing rendition of Santa Baby. Having her biggest hit, Santa Baby accredited to Marilyn Monroe and other artists like the Pussycat Dolls, Shakira, Pink Martini, Taylor Swift and Kylie Minogue recording the same sultry version of the song as Cynthia's version is an exceptional statement of her vocal presence. An astute businesswoman, Basinet established an entirely new channel of distribution for her music using the world wide web to bypass the usual Hollywood and recording industry path to bring her releases directly to listeners around the World. With worldwide radio play and millions of downloads, she has created an entertainment phenomenon with her rendition of Santa Baby which became part of the soudtrack for the film, Party Monster. Santa Baby, commonly believed to have been sung by Marilyn Monroe, was actually recorded by Cynthia Basinet as a Christmas gift for Jack Nicholson. This Los Angeles based Jazz and Blues singer continues recording and acting while using her music to raise awareness for her humanitarian projects. In May and June of 2001 during a trip to the refugee camps in the Western Sahara, the most memorable and defining moment for Cynthia was singing Someone To Watch Over Me in the Saharwian refugee camps, located in the most inhabitable outpost of Algeria. In her own words...This wave of my voice went out into the audience and it came back in a warm echo via the Saharwian women's warbling voices. You know, that Arabic sound the women make. It was the most healing moment in my life. The time there has been the only time I didn’t feel some huge weight sitting on my shoulders. It was life changing and amazing...!
Can a Muslim advocate for battered women, an African American congresswoman, and the singer of a hit cover of the song Santa Baby have anything in common? Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Cynthia Basinet, while best known as a jazz singer, has also been involved in drawing attention to the plight of some 200,000 refugees living in the western Sahara desert. In May 2001, she travelled to the Algerian camps and performed for the people there, who are more than 80 percent women and children. Even though this former fashion model and actress got a great deal of attention in the fashion world in Paris, London and Milan as well as in films and television it is her voice that has garnered much acclaim. That a voice can be a terrible thing to waste, is a credo that Basinet lives by. By using her voice she is determined to bring awareness and attention to West Sahara refugees. In 2005 her efforts were recognized when she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize along with 1000 other dedicated women. Speaking at the Sixty-sixth General Assembly of the United Nations she told its members that long before there was an Arab Spring, there had been a Saharan Fall, where Saharans lived bravely and were attacked and died violently due to Moroccan policies and the bloodshed perpetrated by their army. This had occurred despite warnings, including a 2008 Human Rights Watch Report. The Saharans were a people that had steadfastly proven themselves to be on the forefront of many frontiers. That a people whose examples were desperately needed by all should be protected by all. In her life, whenever she sees or hears of an injustice, be it economic or social, it fuels her creativity. It drives her to have a bigger voice - a voice that could open the heart at that moment and allow a shift in the situation.
Cynthia Basinet has been described as having one of the sexiest and sultriest voices to walk into a recording studio of late. She continues to use the internet to make her music accessible to fans. She released her first EP, For You With Love in 2001 under "c. basinet". In 2006 she released her critically acclaimed first full length CD, The Collection. In 2007, Basinet has released a 10th Anniversary version of her classic, Santa Baby and an exquisite new EP called Uncovered featuring new tracks of some of America's greatest standards. It is Basinet at her classy and sultry best. She has independently released her EP Uncovered bypassing the music industry red tape and restrictions. To Cynthia releasing music online just seems to be appropriate. After all, it is where her Santa Baby hit was born. The year 2007 also ushered in another release calledRemixed - a remix of her prior hit, Going Out Of My Head by uber-producer, David Maurice. In 2010 she partnered with Lee Musiker - Tony Bennett's long time pianist and the Gerry Beaudoin Trio on a hauntingly beautiful, and considered her best work to date, rendition of Cry Me A River.
Leading jazz critics say this of Basinet: Her midnight blue voice can conjure up black and white images of ill-fated romance. Set to a crestfallen piano backdrop, she expresses deep-seated feelings of love lost; the heartbreaking ache in her vocals reveal real, honest pain.
The folks at allaboutjazz.com remark that her voice itself is an instrument; in terms of emotional power - it’s a lethal weapon. Sensual, emotionally damaged and world-weary, Basinet’s vocals have the makings of a film noir femme fatale. In Uncovered, her latest cd of exquisite recordings, Cynthia Basinet is more rawer and real then ever! Her rendition of BLUE MOON makes time stand still.
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Cynthia participates in the Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly - Special Political and Decolonization Affairs on behalf of the Sahara. She agrees with Oprah Winfrey who stated that if you are a woman born in America, you are among the luckiest. Cynthia realized that during her entire life there was never a struggle that didn’t lead her to realize that others had it worse and they needed to be heard - they needed access. To be included with the amazing women who were co-nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize with her whom literally have done such nobel work - often times working in dangerous situations to achieve what is necessary for improvements in others lives, was an incredible experience for her.
Below are speeches from two occasions.
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and gentlemen -
I want to take you somewhere. Somewhere for as far as the eye can see, the eyes see sand; if the eyes could open to see. For the wind so grave, the sand's silica cuts carcinogenic slivers through even the slimmest of squints.
The heat so blistering that nothing can shield you from the ever increasing temperatures due to global warming; now reaching beyond 125 degrees.
This somewhere that despite having a nomadic soul, you are confined and can travel no more.
The Sahrawian people have a sacramental right reinforced by the 1991 UN Peace accord to be a part of this unity.
We have a moral responsibility to honor this code. We have a moral responsibility as stewards of the Sahrawian People.
There must be a shift in heart not just policy.
We, as petitioners stand here today and have made this pilgrimage, as we have in the past and as have others before us on behalf the Sahrawian people to continue to present their plight.
I am deeply concerned as should we all, on the effects of dependency on international aid minus commerce for the Sahrawians.
I am deeply concerned that issues of fatigue, frustration, nutritional deficiencies, lack of proper drinking water and the discrediting of viable traditional health system.
With malnutrition it seems that the minimum energy requirements were met but that very low amounts of riboflavin, vitamin C, calcium, iron and vitamin A were available.
In 2004. Bleeding gums, a sign of scurvy was present in 27.4% of the 15-49 year old non-pregnant women examined; night blindness, a sign of vitamin A deficiency, was reported by 20.6% of the women and goiters were detected in 6.4% of them. Goiters were more likely to be due to an excess of iodine than to iodine deficiency. The survey conducted in 2002, reported extremely high urinary iodine excretion in adolescents. Iodine content of water was analyzed during the present survey and was found to be high to extremely high, depending on the source of water. The highest concentration of iodine can even cause toxicity problems.*
Anemia, diabetes, tuberculosis, stunting, acute malnutrition and the list goes on.
The most common illnesses are diarrhea in the summer and respiratory infections in the winter. In addition to all this, a large number of the children are deaf or hard of hearing due to winds, sand and untreated diseases like meningitis.
They need the training of specialist teachers and systematic checks on children's hearing.
And yet, with all they have not, a study in 1998 found that 90% of the population have attended school and are literate. What other society can claim this same feat?
I am deeply concerned over landmine explosions. Just this past year claimed the lives of 8 year old Fatima Bent Ibrahim. Hours earlier Mohamed Jourmani, a mayor died in a similar blast.
My friend, whose name I cannot mention for his protection, bears a story shared with so many of his countrymen. He, a Sahrawian living abroad in Warsaw did nothing to be driven from his homeland at age 8. Arriving after months of sufferance to the camps at Tindourf. His sister was only 2 when their father died. Their mother still alive in the camps lives with his two sisters and brother. His oldest sister has a very serious disease that is untreatable in the camps.
He tells me of how the cost of food items can rival that of Europe. That camel meat costs about 4 euro ($7), a Kilo of potatoes and Milk equally prohibitively expensive.
But my heart is most touched by his kindness and goodness.
That of his wanting for so long to take a wife and have a family.
Many nights in Warsaw filled with despair upon returning home from a day's work, alone.
A feeling shared by many… only he did finally marry and now has a beautiful and spirited 3 year old daughter but he is unable to bring them to join him in Warsaw.
He is unable because the Western Sahara is not recognized by the UN nor are documents and passports.
They say when one prospers, another falls. Why?
We must realize it takes all facets to make the world, a diamond.
The Sahrawian peoples' strength of living in self-determination is not only an example for but to all.
We have brokered peace in the region due to the Sahrawians. This must be encouraged, not the reverse.
We must look beyond traditional methods of aid. We must look to the private sector to partner with this aid with commerce.
The governing body of the United Nations cannot continue to standby and watch an entire society be slowly delineated from the human map of the world.
You, who are the chosen few - the ambassadors that unite nations must stand up and be accountable.
We must see that micro-economics be encouraged within the camps. We must see that the water is drinkable. We must see to this as the Sahrawians are a needed and viable part of our world.
Thank you for your time~
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and gentlemen -
They say it's never about the actual event but what it forces one to process.
We must send a message that the UN helps and empowers people's at peace and with self reliance. Rather than continue to install the reverse.
The Sahawrian people live in a futile faith over their future. Why? They agreed to a UN peace accord over 16 years ago. And for over 30 years, the majority has lived in the most inhabitable outpost of the Algerian Sahara desert. And if for a moment, global warming flashed into your thoughts, imagine it with its severity increased immeasurably for the Sahawrians that are "free" in the camps.
The others live within Morocco's government bounds. They are bound to live with threats, harassment, jailing, and brutal assaults. Once again, why?
I challenge you before me to undertake a new mission for the UN. One of positive for positive. What better opportunity than for the needs and promises of the Saharwian people to be met.
The UN is the most respected and largest political governing entity in the World. You must continue in the light of recent years' events to set forth a new system. I challenge you to develop a system that allows for the faster progress of peaceful resolutions.
It is time to cycle back and revisit the Western Sahara issue, as it is one of Africa's longest unresolved conflicts.
Let it not be in vain that I address you. Not in vain for all the representatives that address you.
Life is indeed so short. How can people be relegated to a life, nearly 3 decades with no home? No sovereign state. And yet, they HAVE! I implore you to utilize and encourage the Saharwian peoples' steps in peace, in self determination.
I am here today because millions of people put faith in me, invested in my little microeconomic plan launched via the internet. The Saharwian people deserve the right to the same. It is unethical and immoral to limit peace and economic progress in this, the 21 century.
Aside, from the lack of progress on the voting referendum, they have had no progress, economically. These are self-determined peoples; they need access to the Internet for education, micro-economic loan sites and commerce. They need to be able to participate in this World. And we need, that they do.
We need to send this message of positive for positive. Allow the Saharwian and other displaced/conflicted societies this same opportunity. They need quicker resolution to both political and economic strife.
I stand here before you with this appeal, as the Saharwians stood before me. We can no longer determine a society's value based on physical worth or "assets"… in this new century. it is the strength of mind, it is self-determination, it is peaceful resolution. All the things the Saharwian people embody.
The world is a diamond, all facets making it shine… let this facet shine.
Let them participate in their fate.
The Saharwian people living in the camps must have made available for them the ability to solicit their needs and commerce. They need a way to educate their children in a more communal way. They a) need a new school bus b) need access to computers at each of the camps. This can be done.
They need medical supplies, metal siding, blankets, sunglasses, hair brushes, pens, and dictionaries. They need solar powered Generators. They need Computers and Remote access. They need a way to market what they do produce.
This is such a micro-economic and politically solvable situation. This can be done.
Again, I implore you to utilize your ability to aid their ability to aid our ability.
Thank you for your time.
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Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to starta new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats.. take a look
Ten years after the huge success of Cynthia Basinet's Santa Baby comes a Christmas classic with the release of The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) available for preview and purchase at CDBaby
Cry Me A River by Cynthia Basinet is as sweet & smooth as the finest wine, but hits you as deep as a few shots of tequila.And it is available for preview and purchase at CDBaby