April 18, 2019 Atlanta - Jazz singer Chantae Cann stands in the middle of one her favorite spots to visit in Atlanta, The Battery Atlanta. Cann is the focus of the new episode of ATL Closeup. RYON HORNE / RHORNE@AJC.COM

Jazz singer Chantae Cann reveals her favorite ‘hole in the wall,’ spots to unwind in Atlanta

The vocalist sang background for India.Arie for 10 years before launching her solo career

Love perusing through social media to find out what your favorite influencers are up to? Get a closer glimpse into how they spend their time in Atlanta with “ATL Closeup,” a new AJC feature that explores the leisure lives of some of the city’s most notable personalities as they go from work to play mode over the course of a typical weekend —from their favorite places to dine to the little-known spots where they find retreat.

Push “play” on any Chantae Cann song to catch a good vibe. On any given track, the rippling percussion, smooth piano chords, uplifting lyrics and the jazz singer’s sweet melodies, whistle-like tone are sure to radiate a little bit of sunshine.

For more than 10 years, the vocalist has been developing that sound. While she started her career as a background singer for stars, including India.Arie, P.J. Morton and Jonathan McReynolds, she branched out as a solo artist to delve deeper into her artistry. And the journey has been worth it.

The Chicago-native now has two chart-topping albums under her belt. Her first project, “Journey to Golden,” peaked at No. 1 on the iTunes Jazz Charts, while her second one, “Sol Empowered,” earned the No. 8 spot on the Jazz Billboard Charts.

Her talents have even helped her secure partnerships with brands, like Kia and Essence. And everything came full circle when she was invited to open the first three shows for India.Arie’s “Worthy” tour earlier this year. 

“I was really excited about that. It’s been a long time coming,” Cann told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “When I moved here, I was super shy and didn’t want to sing around people. But I started to find outlets, and I started to become comfortable in my own skin. I owe a lot of that to Atlanta.”

When the spirited musician isn’t performing on stages across the globe, she’s carving out time to hit up some of her favorite places. Here’s where you’ll likely find the Vinings resident on any given weekend in Atlanta.

Finger-licking good meal 

Tropical Sangria at Porch Light Latin Kitchen / Credit: Wendy Rutherford Gardner
Photo: Yvonne Zusel/Atlanta Restaurant Scene

Cann is always looking for new restaurants to try, but one that keeps her coming back is Porchlight Latin Kitchen in downtown Smyrna. The eatery offers dishes and drinks from Puerto Rico, Argentina and Mexico, and nothing on the menu is ordinary. 

The last thing she ordered was the citrus brined beer can chicken, which is available as a half or whole, and it was paired with a side of red beans and rice. 

“It’s so good. I mean finger-licking good. You want to lick the bottom of the pan,” she described. “Anything on the menu is to die for. You can’t go wrong.”

Her top dining picks:

Porch Light Latin Kitchen, 300 Village Green Circle SE, Smyrna. 678-309-9858, porchlightlatinkitchen.com.

Shop-til-you-drop spot

If Cann finds a garment with African print, she’s adding it to her closet. She’s a fan of nearly anything with ethnic, bold prints, so Afrocentric Network in the West End is one of her go-tos.

“You can get dashikis, jumpers, pants suits, head wraps. Whatever you need, you can get it from there,” she raved. “They have accessories and shea butters, and I’m really into that. Pretty much my whole wardrobe is from them.”

One of her favorites pieces from the shop is a long skirt with olive and yellow patterns. She usually pairs it with a cute, white tank and has worn the outfit at shows in North Carolina and Delaware. 

Her top shopping pick:

Afrocentric Network, 576 Lee St. SW, Atlanta. 404-756-0200, iamafrocentric.com.

Social Hour

It’s safe to say Cann has an ear for good music. When she wants to hear live entertainment, there are a ton of venues she frequents, such as The Music Room and Kat’s Cafe. You might even catch her singing a tune or two on the mic. 

“Nine times out of 10, I run into someone I know, because Atlanta is a small-big city,” she said. “Everyone is connected, especially in the music world. I love the culture here.”

She also likes places that have recreational activities, like Main Event and The Painted Duck

“I like for things to be combines and you can do everything in one spot,” she said. “I love places that combine people, games, eating, drinking and hanging out.”

Her top party spot picks:

The Music Room, 327 Edgewood Ave. Downstairs, Atlanta. 404-343-0111, atlmusicroom.com.

Kat’s Cafe, 970 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-347-2263, katscafeatlanta.com.

The Painted Duck, 976 Brady Ave. NW, Atlanta, GA. 404-352-0048, thepaintedduckatl.com.

Main Event, 3101 Cobb Pkwy SE Ste. 104, Atlanta. 770-955-0717, mainevent.com/location/georgia/atlanta/30339.

The wind down 

Cann loves to soak in the sunshine when she needs a break from meetings and phone calls, so she frequents The Battery Atlanta. Although the Cobb County entertainment hub is usually bustling, it has plenty of places to enjoy warmth and fresh air, which always helps Cann relax. 

“I can people-watch, I can eat, I can be on the green or I can go to the fountain,” she explains. “There’s also this bridge that I love to walk by.”

The Battery, which is full of eateries and shops, also appeals to her, because it’s close to her apartment.

“When they built it, it turned into its own little Atlanta. You don’t feel like you have to go all the way downtown to have a good experience,” she said. “It kind of reminds me of Atlantic Station mixed with Turner Field. It’s a nice vibe.”

Her top relax destination:

The Battery Atlanta, 800 Battery Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-494-1150, https://batteryatl.com.

Octopus Bar patio
Photo: Courtesy of their Facebook page

Hidden gem 

While exploring the city with a friend one weekend, Cann discovered the Octupus Bar in East Atlanta. The late-night spot, decorated with graffiti throughout the space, serves Asian and European bites and plays hip music until 2:30 a.m.

“It was like a hole in the wall. It’s really dark, and it stays open late. They probably have the best late-night food selections,” she said. 

Think flatbreads, lobster rolls and mussels.

“When I first found it, I said, ‘I’m not going to tell anybody about this place right now, because I want to keep it to myself. 

Now, she’s ready to share.

If you go:

Octopus Bar, 560 Gresham Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-627-9911, octopusbaratl.com.

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