We had the good fortune of connecting with Priya Mani and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Priya, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve felt very connected to music since I was a child, and my interest only grew stronger with time. I grew up surrounded by a very musical atmosphere at home, with Bollywood, Indian classical, western pop, and other genres of music playing in the background! When I think about what inspired me to dream big and pursue a career in the field, I’m reminded of the simple moments from my childhood. I used to sit on the balcony of my apartment and sing with my guitar for hours everyday, imagining myself singing on a stage to an audience. Moments like that made me realize that I’ve always been at my happiest when I’m singing or playing music. Music is how I express myself, and it’s always been a part of me. One of the reasons why I chose to pursue it is because my mind is always wandering in a melody! To be true to myself, I dedicate all my time and energy towards music. Growing up, I took music lessons and performed in some school and local events. But, when it came to choosing music as a career, I realized there were many factors to consider. When I was younger, I didn’t personally know anyone who had a career in music, so I wasn’t sure how to go about making it happen for myself. The only thing I was certain about, was that I wanted to be a singer and perform live, compose, and learn music for the rest of my life! I feel more connected with the world and the people around me when I am able to express myself and share experiences through music. It has the power to connect people from all over the world through just a simple melody. Even if we don’t speak the same languages, we experience music in similar ways.
Being a professional singer/musician has always been the dream, and luckily my family has always supported my passion for music, which is what has made my journey so much easier. I’m beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to study music and build a career in something I absolutely love!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a vocalist, singer-songwriter, and arranger who is passionate about music from all around the world! My goal is to create music that is emotional and sonically unique, drawing influences from music of different cultures and genres. I released my first single “SHE” a few months ago, which was written in honor of single mothers and mother figures. It is stylistically a blend between a western pop/ballad and contemporary Indian music. I believe this song kick started my career as an artist! I realized my passion for writing or arranging music that blends different genres of music, while focusing on expressing emotions and stories.

Growing up, I took voice lessons in Indian classical and contemporary western music. I would perform at small local events to gain performance experience, and I loved every minute of it! I knew that I wanted to gain a higher level of education in the subject, so I decided to pursue a Bachelors in Music at Berklee College of Music, where I am majoring in vocal performance and minoring in Mediterranean music as well as Recording and Production. In my time at Berklee, I have had the opportunity to perform with many groups including the Berklee Indian Ensemble, Balkan Choir, Flamenco Fusion, Treble Threat Acapella, and Contemporary Middle Eastern Ensembles. I have done live performances in over ten different languages and worked with professors from over eight different countries. I am so grateful to have shared the stage with musicians like Zakir Hussain, John McLaughlin, and Amira Medunjanin. I also had the opportunity to study abroad in Valencia, Spain, where I studied Mediterranean music. These have been great learning experiences and have contributed to and influenced my artistry.

Recently, musicians have been faced with the unique challenge of navigating the performance world during the pandemic! My first single was recorded completely remotely due to this, and it was an interesting experience. Despite the unfortunate situation the world was faced with, musicians were able to adjust to this change with the help of technology! This inspired me to pursue a minor in recording and production, and to learn more about that field.

There is a lot of uncertainty in this career. As a musician, I try my best to work hard and improve my skills, and get more experience performing and recording, but when you make a career out of something you love, sometimes it can become a source of stress due to deadlines and pressure that comes with the job. That said, I have found comfort in the fact that I absolutely love what I do, and that at the end of the day it always feels worth it because of the end result, whether that’s completing an arrangement, the release of a song, or a live show!

Something I want to prioritize in my music and artistry, is the importance of a story and a purpose behind it. Music can be therapeutic, and a way for us to channel our emotions. I’m very excited to share that I’m in the process of recording new original music, and I can’t wait to release it and share it with the world!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Good views and good food with the right people make for the best experiences! Here are a few places and things in Orange County that I would add to the itinerary for the trip- The beaches are absolutely incredible! Ruby’s Shake Shack at Crystal Cove would be a perfect place for a meal. Top of the World is a wonderful viewpoint, so that would definitely be on the list. Downtown Disney is a great spot – they have an amazing jazz cafe with the most delicious beignets, it’s a wonderful place!
One of my favorites would be to attend a concert at the Observatory in Santa Ana!
And for the perfect end to the day- Seaside Donuts at Newport Beach, maybe with a nice beach bonfire!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to thank my family for their love and support through every step of the way! My parents have always encouraged me to pursue my passion. My father sings as well, and seeing his love and passion for music inspired me to start my musical journey. My mother introduced me to many contemporary bollywood songs that I loved to listen to and sing growing up! My sister helped me with every aspect of building a career in music. She’s the reason I was exposed to pop music when I was younger, and she helped me gain the confidence to perform, write, and release music. I wouldn’t be here without them and I’m grateful for the opportunity to give them a shout-out! I’ve been blessed with incredible music teachers and mentors in my life, and I’d like to thank them for the time and energy they have dedicated towards teaching me music.
I am currently in my senior year at Berklee College of Music, and I wouldn’t be where I am without the wonderful experiences I’ve had here. I’ve met some of the best musicians I’ve ever heard, and I’ve learned beyond what I expected to take away from the experience. I’d like to give a shoutout to all my professors and wonderful friends who have helped me build my musicianship and artistry!

Website: https://priyamanimusic.weebly.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/priyamanimusic/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/priyamanimusic/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/priyamanimusic/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJpOKahkbRXqIdoQE7fNuhg

Image Credits
Shweta Mani, Suresh Mani, Rachel Pac

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