You’ve probably heard Dolly Parton’s classic song “Jolene” countless times, but have you heard it coming from Maris with Postmodern Jukebox? Stop right there and prepare to be blown away by the 17-year-old aspiring singer! She blew us away by her epic cover showing off her range. Fun fact: Maris self-produced her own debut album which is now up on SoundCloud and this December, she’ll be taking center stage at Carnegie Hall in New York City as the 1st-place winner of American Protege’s International Music Talent Competition.
We interviewed Maris to talk about her career, her confidence, and what her ultimate goal she wants to accomplish!
The Young Folks: First things first, how did you get your start in music? As in, when or how did you decide that music was something you wanted to seriously pursue and create?
Maris: I’ve been singing since before I can remember, and my mom sang to me when I was little, but I decided to seriously pursue it when I was in 6th grade. I had entered a talent competition when I was in that grade, and the way performing made me feel was outstanding. My stepdad then insisted I go into voice lessons, and I began taking those. Now I can’t imagine life without performing and the connection I get to have with people while doing so.
TYF: Did you ever have any vocal lessons or any instrumental training?
Maris: Yes, I had a couple years of vocal training and a couple months of guitar lessons.
TYF: When did you decide it was time to push your talent out to the vast internet? Were you hesitant at first or didn’t even think twice and let fate take over?
Maris: The first cover I actually posted was before I had even taken voice lessons or anything, and it was an a capella cover of Katy Perry’s, “Teenage Dream”. I had put a ton of video effects on it that made my face rainbow and everything, then I put it on YouTube. It got around 50 views, and for me at the time that was significant. So, as any 11-year-old might, I got anxious and pulled it down. I don’t think I was super comfortable with anybody being able to watch it, at the time. Looking back I wish I would’ve just privated it, or something.
TYF: You do tons of amazing covers on YouTube, what has been your favorite song to cover so far? What songs do you hope to cover in the near future?
Maris: Thank you so much! My favorite song so far to cover was probably “Electric Love” by Borns. The song is just super fun to sing, has incredible lyrics and everything, and it has a higher chorus that lets me wail. Even though because of how loud I get, the mic always peaks.
TYF: You seem like an incredibly confident and positive person. How did you gain that confidence? How do you steer clear from any negativity?
Maris: Thank you so much again! I actually often feel really insecure, and like I don’t know what I am doing at all. What I have learned though is that once I started to fake it, and also once I started to empower others, I started to empower myself more. Once I was able to compliment someone on their strength, or maybe their creativity or their generosity, it made me realize that these are values I like in myself. I started to appreciate the deeper things I like about myself, stuff that doesn’t ever fade with age or with money or with social status, etc. That’s when I became truly confident, I think. I also had to cut a lot of negativity out of my life in order to assure that I was only surrounding myself with people who made me feel worthy, wanted and loved.
TYF: Currently listening to your debut full length album on Soundcloud as I write this. How long did this entire album take you to put together? What was the most difficult part of the process? What did you learn the most?
Maris: I would say that album took about 8 months to put together, with a few songs written ahead of time. The most difficult part was definitely the production, because I am just not very skilled or experienced in that area. I tried my best with drums and guitars and piano and everything, but it’s definitely not my strong suit. Hopefully, though, through the process of that album, I learned how to produce much better.
TYF: Major congrats to you for your upcoming performance at THE Carnegie Hall! What did you have to do to land a spot? What are you doing to prepare for December?
Maris: Thank you so much! I actually submitted a video of me singing my original, “Liar” to a talent competition called American Protege on a whim and they seemed to like it. I had actually forgotten about it, and then a couple months later I got an email from them. I had won a first place spot, and the prize for that was a showcase at Carnegie Hall! So that kind of blows my mind and I am so so excited.
Also terrified, but mostly excited.
TYF: Absolutely LOVE your cover of “Jolene” with Postmodern Jukebox. How did you two connect and collaborate to make this happen? Did you get to decide the song you wanted to sing? If so, why this particular song?
Maris: Thank you so much, it was an absolute honor to work with Scott Bradlee and that entire team. They’re wonderful at what they do, and it shows in the quality and genuine talent of their videos and performances. I had gotten involved by submitting to the PMJ search, and I placed in the final four. I was honestly crushed after I had gotten my hopes up that maybe there was a chance that I could win. However, Scott followed me on twitter and said that he would love to collaborate anyway, and so a couple months later we had set up a date and everything. We had a day for a creative meeting, which is where we decided on Jolene. I originally wanted to do an “Eagles” song because my dad and I loved them, but any of the songs were either too long or didn’t show off my range enough. Scott suggested “Jolene”, and that’s what we ended up choosing because of the range and the classic element of the song.
TYF: Once your done with high school, what are your plans afterwards? What are your biggest goals you want to achieve whether it be in your career as a musician or goals you want to achieve in life?
Maris: So, I graduated early, which is nice because I now can focus on my career as a musician. I was supposed to be a senior in high school this year, but high school wasn’t really my bag. My biggest goal in my career is just to make the best music possible for me, reaching my full potential. I’d also love to be able to live off of it, make music my sole endeavor. I work at a pizza place right now, and that’s fun and everything, but it’s just not what I wanna do forever. In life I just want to be happy, and to make sure the people I love are happy, and continue to connect with people through my art. That could be 2 people or 1,000,000 people, it doesn’t really affect the level of soul I put into anything.