Biography

My music had roots which I'd dug up from my own childhood, musical roots buried in the darkest soil.
- Ray Charles

Let me preface this biography by saying that I have a very long, complicated and interesting life story I could share with you. but I want to get straight to the point with my biography in a different format by answering the three questions I am most often asked by fans and friends. I have put some additional personal information in the last section of this biography.

 

The first question usually asked is where am I from?

The easiest answer is to say I am from Southern California. I was born in Laguna Beach and although I moved out of state by age 2, I returned to Orange County to attend college at age 18 in 1999 and made my way to San Diego in 2003. I have since married and settled in the city of Oceanside since 2005.

The longer answer of where I am from and how I grew up could easily be a novel, but I'll tell you I was adopted at age 5 and from age 2-18, aside from California I lived in Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Washington, Australia, Texas, and Virginia. My adoptive Mother worked for Continental Airlines as a flight attendant for almost 40 years.We traveled across Europe, North America and Japan. I have since traveled to many other wonderful places and hope to continue traveling the rest of my life. My goal is to do a world tour with my music someday!

Another question I am often asked is when did I begin singing?

There is no short answer to that. I've been singing as long as I can remember. I sang in the church, I made up songs for my little sister, I sang along to old musical films and with my parents who both played classical acoustic guitars.

I joined the church choir around 10 years old and soon became the lead soloists. Soon after I began singing at church, I was invited to sing for other churches in the community who had heard about me. I also sang in my school choirs, community choir and the prestigious Seattle Girls' Choir.  I won numerous local and state competitions from 6th-12th grades, however moving as often as we did really made it difficult to get established.  I pursued advanced musical studies through high school and decided I wanted to major in classical voice for college. I discovered that I had a huge, powerful, dramatic mezzo soprano voice perfect for opera.

By the time I graduated high school I was offered numerous scholarships for music and academics from organizations and institutions across the country.  I always felt like I belonged in Southern California and I really wanted to a small private college with a personalized education. These reasons among others are why I chose to attend Chapman University where I was offered a full scholarship. At Chapman I was able to tour the Western US and Italy and even sang for a private audience with Pope John Paul II in the Sistine Chapel. I loved my experiences at Chapman.

Lastly, people often ask how did I become a full time singer?

When you have a gift and a passion I feel it is a tragedy when you keep it to yourself. For many years I suffered from insecurities derived from my childhood and bullying. This kept me fearful of doing what I love for fear of criticism about my appearance, but I felt a gaping void in my life. Although I worked various day jobs and even owned a successful corporation, my heart was always in the music.

My bassist friend Nam Chi Vu, whom I knew from high school in Houston and I started my first band, a trio called Femme Fusion in 2004-2005, but we parted ways. I didn't get back into music until 2010 when I was invited to join a vintage surf rock band called Superwave that had me sing a few songs during their sets (background photo is me performing with Superwave). Soon after I began performing, I had my own fan base and I was in a big band called High Stakes Swing Band, started another female jazz trio called Menage A Trois Jazz and I made some other attempts at establishing group projects. None of these bands worked out for the long term for reasons I had no control over. In 2013 I started performing at a local vintage and farmers markets, coffee shops and art galleries on weekends and evenings singing solo with tracks. This gave me a lot of practice, confidence and exposure. Soon I was being asked to do weddings, private events, and venues across Southern California. By 2014 I had turned my side gigs into a full time career with the help, love and support of my spouse and community. I have since been established throughout the county as a succesful solo vintage vocalist. I also finally brought together a talented and dedicated group of musicians to create a retro rock band that does oldies, rockabilly and blues called Celeste & The Upbeats whom I performed with from 2014-2016. I do not currently have a band or live musicians that I work with. I am open to possibilities though.

 

What else would you like to know? You can ask me anything.

I live my life as an open book because I want to inspire others through honesty, integrity and dedication to my career, community and marriage. I have been domestically partnered since 2005 and finally married my wife Rene Cosby in 2008.  Rene enthusiastically attends all my events as my assistant and right hand. We live in Oceanside with our parrot named Oiseau who is also a big fan of my music and occasionally even gets to attend a show.

Singing for Seniors

My adoptive father, who passed in 1997 at the age of 59, was my first and greatest fan. He was so proud of all my achievements both in music and academics. I sang to him in the hospital during his last days and saw that not only did he have a peaceful expression while I sang, but that his heart rate stabilized, blood pressure lowered, breathing became more even and oxygen levels elevated. This inspired me to want to study music therapy and use music directly with those suffering. I chose Chapman University because of their music therapy degree program. Sadly, I disqualified for the program as I was not proficient in piano, guitar and percussion. Life has a way of coming around full circle in unexpected ways when you are passionate about helping others. After I began performing, I had senior living activity coordinators contacting me which started my side career performing for over 2 dozen senior communities.  I have been witness to miracles through music. Memory care residents who no longer known their own names never forget the lyrics to these great songs such as "It Had To Be You," "Sentimental Journey," or "My Funny Valentine." Singing for seniors and those who are sick is something that brings me great joy. I had 2 grandmothers suffer from Alzheimers, one of which I lived with as a companion for 2 years. I wish I knew then what I have learned now about the mind's relationship with music!

Experience

In early 2016 I became a proud member of the prestigious Weddings of Distinction. I have performed for NACE, SDABC, MPI, EWI, NOW, South Bay Pride, North County Pride, Bless Your Heart Burlesque, Lola Demure's Burlesque Variety Show, the MCASD Monte Carlo Gala, and numerous prestigious organizations and events. I am an entertainer for Epic Entertainment, Innovative Entertainment and Bollotta Entertainment Companies and a preferred vendor for the Marriott Marquis & Marina, Humphrey's Half Moon Inn & Suites, The Westin Gaslamp, Grand Pacific Resorts, Flagship Cruises & Events, Cohn Restaurant Group and more. I am a regular monthly entertainer for Flagship Cruises & Events, Vintana Wine + Dine, Rancho Bernardo Inn, Grand Pacific Resorts, Mr. Peabody's Bar & Grill and 2 dozen senior living communities.

All My Gratitude

I mentioned earlier that I had insecurities relating to my appearance brought on by my childhood experiences. I was fearful of rejection, but today I rejoice in the fact that I have been embraced, loved, and cheered on every step of the way by friends, community members, strangers and fans. I am so amazed, overwhelmed and humbled by all the support I have received. Nothing could mean more to me than to have others who believe in me and want to see me reach and maybe even exceed my potential. If anything, I hope my story is seen as one of perseverence, inspiration and gratitude. Thank you so much taking the time to read my story.

Summertime - Celeste Barbier
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