"I guess I wanted to be a doctor, and a lawyer, and an olympic athlete when I was a kid. There was always something else I wanted to become. The only constant that I had was music . I lived next door to my elementary school and would go home during lunch time and sing because I loved it. I really didn't like the attention so much. My grandmother who was a classically trained singer would join forces with my mom and make me sing everywhere even when I didn't want to most of the time. I was extremely shy about it. I still have stage fright when I perform."
Mariannie Alcantara Ompoc a Philippine native, began singing in church at the age of four. Her grandmother who lived in Chicago would request cassette tapes of her grandchildren's recordings from the Philippines as a frugal means to communicate with her family. "My mom would get the church to record me singing on stage and we would send it back to my grandmother. In return, she would send us school supplies, gifts and chocolates. It was an awesome exchange."
At the age of nine, her family immigrated to Canada. She began participating in school plays, theatrical productions, and competitions. Much to her dismay, she also began taking vocal lessons to hone her skills as a vocalist.
Her list of influences include Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Queen, Eva Cassidy, Sting, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin among many others. Although her sound is a hybrid of years studying and listening to these greats, it was not an easy task: "I wasn't allowed to listen to secular music when I was living with my grandmother because she was extremely religious. To solve that problem, I would record the radio at night while she was sleeping and listen to it with my walkman the next day. One time when we were living in Vancouver, I was outside singing while listening to Whitney Houston when this man came up to me and asked me to sing at one of his clubs. My grandmother came out of the house freakin' out. I think I was only eleven at the time."
Mariannie penned her first song at 14. "It was about love even if I had no clue what that word meant at the time. It was so simple and the wording was obscure. From then on I was hooked. I was writing on beats at first, The Fugees beats namely because I loved their songs and I thought that they had the most amazing beats. I started collaborating with other artists all over the country who needed hooks for their rap songs, or who needed a singer for their project. After that I started making my own music to go with my lyrics." With a desktop computer mic, and a very primitive software on her computer, she began sampling genres from hip-hop to classical music's Habanera to emulate her sound. This eventually lead her to pursue audio engineering at Toronto's acclaimed Audio Recording Academy. Her compositions are recorded and refined by herself: "I have been making my own music to my songs for years now. It's not that I prefer it, it's just that I enjoy doing the recording and editing aspect of music in general. I started recording my music in my basement room using a five dollar mic and a midi synth. Although I have better gear now, nothing much has changed." She attributes her writing style to gospel music, often referring to her songs as 'dug deep and sometimes painful'. "I would much rather reveal something about myself based on experience or whatever than sing songs I think people will like because it's trendy. It's easier for me to sing the words that I can't say and there's the honesty aspect of songwriting that I'm drawn to. Music is the medium that translates those feelings best for me, and I know that other people can relate."
There's no denying what the future has in store for this aspiring artist. Make way for the lady
Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Queen, Eva Cassidy, Sting, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin
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