As the director of the thriving musical services and education agency, Gospo Enterprises, and leader of the Gospo Collective, who have performed at almost all our peak artistic festivals and who will soon collaborate with the renowned Chong Lim AM on Superstar ‘The Carpenters Story’, Charmaine Jones appears to be on the top of the world. It hasn’t always been that way, though, and she still must remain vigilant to stay on top of her demons, lest she return to the path that claimed the life of The Carpenters front woman, Karen Carpenter.
Charmaine Jones was born in Sri Lanka in the early 1980s, where she spent an idyllic three years playing in the garden and singing along to the hits of The Carpenters.
In July of 1983, though, Jones’ world was thrown into crisis, as Sri Lanka descended into civil war with the onset of the Black July riots; a conflict that forced her family to flee to Australia and never return home.
For Jones, the trauma and chaos of her forced relocation as a toddler, when combined with thoughtless comments by family members about her weight, triggered a teenage battle with anorexia, as she explains.
“People think that anorexia and bulimia are just about the way you look, and it’s not. It’s actually about control, which you never realise when you’re in it. Putting that control on your food is because other aspects of your life are out of control.”
While Karen Carpenter sadly succumbed to anorexia, Jones made it to the other side, but not without further tragedy along the way.
“What people don’t understand is you when you start eating, you put on more weight because the body starts hoarding fat. I went to the other extreme and became very heavy for my frame, and you’re going to think I am very strange for saying this, but then a miracle happened.”
“… My child, in the short time he was present as a life form on this earth, he changed my life more than anyone.”– Charmaine Jones
“I fell pregnant and gave birth to my son, and he was a stillborn, and it was really after him that I hit the gym, because I needed to find a way to cope with my depression because I certainly didn’t want to go back to my anorexic phase.”
“Knowing full well that I have an addictive personality, the last thing I wanted to do was get addicted to anti-depressants, so every morning, even if I was still in my pyjamas, I would hit the gym. Slowly, from that, I discovered the routine of good exercise. 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, I discovered the routine, the consistency. Even that took a while.”
“Knowing my personality, I went the other way, and became addicted to the gym, but it’s only been in the five years that I think I have got the balance right, but still occasionally the anorexia demon calls, the need for control calls.”
Jones’ solution, then, has been to recognise the need for control that has stemmed from her early childhood traumas and channelled that urge into productive, healthy and healing habits.
With the Gospo Collective, she has created an environment for others to heal along with her.
“I’m pretty sure that we have a lot of people in our choir and a lot of people in our audiences who have body image issues and the need for control for a variety of reasons, and I hope that they are inspired to face their better selves through the music.”
Superstar ‘The Carpenters Story’ plays the Brenton Langbein Theatre in Tanunda on the 26th of June and at Plant 4 Bowden on the 29th and 30th of June.