Manhattan resident Chantae’ Vetrice says she’s had plenty of people tell her that deciding to become a musical artist and converting to Judaism were the wrong choices.
But she is confident her results have proven that she was right to listen to her heart.
A versatile talent, Vetrice raps, sings, makes artistic music videos, and also models. Vetrice says it is incumbent on people to be true to themselves and stand up for their beliefs.
One of her most impressive songs, “R.I.P,” decries the shootings of several artists from Nipsey Hussle, who was murdered outside his clothing store in Los Angeles, to Takeoff, from Migos, who was shot in Houston.
“I made that song after Takeoff was killed,” Vetrice told the Journal. “There were a number of hip hop artists killed with in the last few years. It’s crazy.”
Vetrice grew up in a single parent household with her mother in the New York City and moved to New Orleans for the last two years of high school. She then attended Georgia State University.
After reading about Judaism, she felt a strong connection and decided to convert.
“I didn’t consider myself to be particularly religious to begin with,” Vetrice said. “I considered myself spiritual and I had this curiosity. The process took about two-and-a-half years. I took it very seriously.”
Vetrice said she is proud to be Black, Jewish, and a Zionist. She added that she’s experienced racism, antisemitism, and some have told or messaged her that she should not be an ardent supporter of the Jewish state.
She has more than 76,000 followers on Instagram where she includes an Israeli flag and the word “Zionist.”
“I get a lot of DM’s of people telling me I’m crazy cause I’m a Zionist,” Vetrice said. “I don’t think you can be Jewish and not be a Zionist and I’m proud to say I am one. The belief some people have about Zionism is completely false… I’m proud to be who I am.” Her connection to
Israel was strengthened in April, when she visited the Jewish State. She loved going to the shuk and speaking with different people. Tel Aviv, she said, is a “particularly beautiful city.”
When she completed her conversion at a Chicago synagogue, she got some “not so nice looks” but eventually, people could tell she belonged.
The most difficult part of her life was when she was in an abusive relationship, but she got out of it and hopes others in the same situation can do the same.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was that I had contemplated suicide,” she said. “I didn’t go through with it, of course. But just that I had contemplated that to be my only option to get out of that situation, I was like, ‘okay, this is enough.’ Thankfully, when I told my friends in my inner circle, there was great support.” While she was in the relationship, she was “embarrassed and ashamed that I allowed myself to be treated like that. I hid it from everyone. Even my mother didn’t know. What I would say to people that are in an abusive relationship is, ‘don’t be afraid to ask for help. Tell people that are close to you, because it can assist you to get out of it.’”
In her song “Elevated,” she raps the following verse:
“Cause them bills pile up, not buffalo/Screaming Black Lives Matter you don’t hear me though/Oh you put a sign on your window that’s cool/Now you think you down for the cause that’s new.”
The lyrics are based on stores or businesses putting up “Black Lives Matter” signs; Vetrice thinks many who did only wanted to increase their customer base and were not sincere in the fight against racism.
“Right when the Black Lives Matter movement became popular, every business was saying ‘oh, Black Lives Matter,” shesaid. “I truly don’t believe everyone feels like that. Some were in the moment and utilized it to capitalize on it. I didn’t appreciate that.”
She benefited from living in different parts of the country, including the South, where she likely picked up on something to put a twist on a traditional Jewish dish.
“I have Cajun spices because I like it a little spicy,” she said of what she puts in her cholent. “That’s my secret ingredient.”
A model whose image has been on magazine covers, she was selected for a prestigious Bacardi campaign, where her face was on thousands of bottles.
Vetrice has been singing since she was a child, and one of early inspirations was Prince.
“He was so talented, and I loved how he was the only guy who could wear high heels and get away with it,” she said. “He was a great songwriter and an incredible performer.”
Vetrice uses bold choices in her music videos.
“I try to surround myself with a lot of art and have been drawn to things that are obscure,” she said. “I implement that into my videos which are a reflection of my personality.”
In the video for “Remember” she is tied to a chair and there is fire coming close to her but by the end, she is free and kicks the chair over. It’s not all heavy issues; she sprinkles her songs with humor and wordplay.
In “Vain” she sings “you can’t be anti-social on social media.”
As someone whose choices have not always been easy, Vetrice believes no one should shy away from their creative impulses.
“Some people told me I’m not going to make it or I’m not good enough,” she said. “I just use that as motivation.”