Moria Mack recently performed live at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, Texas along with former Fugees member and music icon Wyclef Jean. Wyclef discovered Moria during a trip to the University of Southern California. Moria a very talented artist is currently in her senior year majoring in popular music performance in vocal. While minoring in Spanish and Web applications and technology.
Her fairytale experience with Wyclef began with a telephone call from one of her professors. He reached out to her explaining that they would have a special guest stopping by later in the week. He asked if she would be interested in performing one of her original pieces in front of the special guest. She decided to bring her guitar along as “it was better to be prepared”. The special guest turned out to be Wyclef Jean.
Moria’s professor called her up on stage to play for him and as you can imagine she was in shock she was playing for someone that she grew up listening to as a child. During her performance unbeknownst to Moria, Wyclef streamed the entire audition on Instagram Live. “What do you do after the best day of your life”? She went home and hopped on social media to share the great news after her performance.
I had the opportunity to interview Moria and discussed how her life has changed over the last three months. Being discovered and touring with Wyclef, what’s next for her as an artist, as well as when we can expect a full project from her. The full interview can be seen below.
How old were you when you first picked up your first instrument?
I started singing and I cannot tell you how far back that goes. My father was raised in a strict Irish Catholic family and grew up singing in the church. He has always been kind of a wild voice tress man. So, as long as I can remember I grew up singing. I didn’t have any formal training until the latter part of elementary school. I started playing the violin and I stopped playing very quickly. The first time I started singing in public was in high school in the choir and I rooks voice lesson, but they were more classical based. As an artist, I have always wanted to sing soul, gospel, or pop music. I would later start playing the guitar at the age of sixteen or seventeen and I did not make the decision to pursue music full time until four years ago.
Can you tell us your inspiration behind your single ‘I Worry I Worry’?
The single is about my struggle with anxiety to the point that I worry about things too much. It has been something that I have been battling since I was a child. Eventually, I sought professional help. It has improved over the years and I think this is something people do not talk about in our society. “I also think everyone struggles with some form of anxiety, worrying about your past into the future and learning to let things go”. I spend a lot of time thinking about things that I could have done better and wanting to be a perfectionist and the song is addressing those issues. “Honestly, it was very therapeutic to think and write about my health, I enjoy singing it every time”.
You are a student at the University of Southern California what is your field of study?
So, I am still enrolled and technically this is my fourth year making me a senior, but I had a fulltime job since I started. I have been going back and forth between full and part-time leaving me with a couple more credits to finish to graduate. I am majoring in popular music performance with a focus in vocal and minors in Spanish and Web applications and technology.
You had the opportunity to compete in a competition that would land the winner on Wyclef’s mixtape ‘Wyclef Goes Back to School’, which you won. In your own words what was going through your mind as you were auditioning for Wyclef?
To be quite honest I was not aware that it was an audition. I received an email from one of my professors on a Wednesday night that there would be a special guest visiting our class on Friday. He asked if I would I be interested in performing one of my original pieces. The guest turned out to be Wyclef Jean. At the time we did not know if we were invited to perform in class and of course you want to have something prepared in case they want to hear something on the spot. I said absolutely and two days later I showed up to class with my guitar and about 45 minutes into the class my professor explained that was the end of the interview with Wyclef. He then invited me on stage to perform for him.
At that moment I was losing my mind because I grew up listening to the Fugees. I literally posted on Instagram “What do you do after the best day of your life?” I thought I’ve peeked because I just had the opportunity to perform one of my songs for Wyclef Jean. He streamed the whole performance on Instagram Live and two days later I received an Instagram message from his manager inviting me to perform with him in Omaha, Nebraska with a symphony. That is when I found out they were keeping notes on students performing and during my performance I thought it was a one and done opportunity. The things that were running through my mind on stage performing in front of him was ‘Holy S***, Holy S***, Holy S***.’ I must admit it has been three months and I’m still in shock.
The single you are featured on is called ‘Sak Kap Fet, ’featuring clef and Kofi Black. Can you talk about where you drew your inspiration from on the single?
It is something that Kofi and Clef put together and they sent it to me after it was developed. I sent him back a couple versions of my verse to choose from on an audio file. I know Sak Kap Fet means what’s good and you try to keep that in mind when you are singing the song and take the vibe. Clef is all about catching a vibe I just took it into the studio with one of my friends’ in Los Angeles and ran with it.
Is there anything else we can expect from you personally heading into the latter part of 2018?
Oh, Hell yea! I am still trying to figure out what that is going to look like, but there will be a lot of music being released in the rest of the year into 2019. Hopefully, I will be hitting the road again this summer and into the fall as well. Now, that I have been able to experience it over the last three months it is something that I want to do more of as an artist.
Are you thinking about releasing an EP or a full album this year?
That is something still being decided. I plan on releasing the next single in the next month or so, but I have been writing music since I was five years old. It is just up to me to pull out the gems and present them to the world to see. Being able to travel with Wyclef has allotted me to write a lot of material. I decided not to release a full album in 2018, it will be in 2019.
How has your life changed since you started traveling with Clef city to city?
I had to adjust my dream of getting to work with an artist like Wyclef, which is at the top of my bucket list. Now, that I have been able to do that I realize anything is possible and I just need to put in the work. It has been an incredible experience and hasn’t had this much fun before in my life. Now, I am getting ready to work on more of my own music and looking forward to the next phase. Also, appreciating the whole experience that presented itself from this once in a lifetime opportunity.
As an artist how do you want your platform to create change in the world?
That is a great question! It is obviously important to me as a woman, that issues surrounding women be at the forefront in my mind. Getting the opportunity to work with Head Music, run by Maddie Nelson who is an incredible woman. This is the company that represents Wyclef, and it is entirely operated by an all-women staff. Working with them has already been a dream come true. My next single will be called ‘Here’s to Men’ describing my battle with those issues and I am really looking forward to that. Along the road eventually, I would like to start a non-profit in music education focusing on education for girls at a young age in music. I found that is something that really wasn’t available to me at a young age.
I really wish that I picked up an instrument at a young age. Being someone that went through the system, I found that there needs to be some growth and I know there are some issues that I faced that other women out there have as well. Having mentors like Wyclef who recognize young female talent they foster that growth. I think mentorship is incredibly powerful and we do not have many women in leadership positions in the music business. I want to change the landscape regarding mentorship for young girls out there through my non-profit.
What is some advice that you want to share with artists looking for their shot in the music industry?
That is tough to answer because I only know the journey I have taken, and it has been a combination of hard work and luck. I had some incredible educators along the way and I do not think there is a specific recipe to success. I think everyone has their own path but putting in the work and being prepared for anything that comes your way is the key. Also, do not be afraid to follow your dreams. I was in school at UW Madison five years ago finishing up my semester studying International Relations, metalworking, and Spanish. Trying to find something that made me as happy as music did doing this for a semester and concluding nothing was going to make me as fulfilled as music. So, I dropped out and move to Los Angeles and I know I had a certain degree of privilege in my life that allowed me to make that transition. I know other individuals out there do not have that same luxury, but you cannot be afraid to stand up for yourself and believe in your talent and skills.