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20 Questions With Maria Manna

The Canadian jazz dynamo on reinvention, street racing & giving the drummer some.

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Maria Manna kicked up her heels with a message of love on her sassy single I Like It In The Water, which showcased HERE a couple of months ago. Today, she dives into my stupid questions. Read on to see if the veteran singer-songwriter and musical dynamo gets in over her head:

 


 

What is your musical origin story?
Ha, my father, coming over from Italy by ship, was asked to compete in a singing competition. He did and won. The winner had an opportunity to go to New York and basically get discovered. He said, ‘No thank you, I have a welding job in Vancouver.’ Good Lord!

What do we need to know about your latest project?
My latest project is my song I Like It In The Water and pumping it out as much as possible. I think our music video is pretty cool too.

What truly sets you apart from other artists?
I constantly reinvent myself, like Madonna. You have to in this business. I am a team player, only a diva when I need to be. I schlep equipment with everyone else before and after a gig. My gigs are always about the audience.

What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
I will inspire, educate and entertain you. You will feel good after you listen to my music. Whether it’s happy, light, smiley, you will feel good!

Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
The first song I wrote was an Italian song called Solo Noi (Only Us). I was inducted in the music archives of Alberta as the first Italian-Canadian female to record in Italian. My first gig was with an Italian wedding band in Edmonton and the musicians decided, depending on how well I was received, what I would get. I think it was $50 in 1979.

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you gave?
Best was most recent when I sang Airmail Special, one of the toughest songs to sing — it clips at about 200 bpm, all scat. I studied that song for three years.
Worst was when I was singing for a wedding in front of 400 people and the zipper on my gown blew apart. The drummer had a good view.
Strangest was when I performed at Butchart Gardens in Sidney B.C. to a group of 350 people and an audience member brought her own lawn chair and read a mystery novel as I performed. In the middle of the show, I asked if the music complemented the story.
The most memorable was singing for former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1978 at the Jubilee Auditorium. I sang A Star is Born. The funny thing about that story is that two years before that, I had asked for singing lessons and my parents said no! Mom said in her broken English, “Watchu gonna do, sing for the prime minister of Canada?” Then she laughed. Well, then I did hahahaha.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
Performing, hosting a tv show, cooking, and enjoying my grandchildren.

What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
I love opera and classical Music. I also love anything from the ‘70’s

What are your favourite songs / albums / artists right now?
I love Moonlight Sonata and anything by Chet Baker and Natalie Cole.

How about some other favourites: Authors, movies, painters, you name it.
Barbara Coloroso, Maya Angelou, It’s Complicated, Meet Joe Black, Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Boticelli, Michelangelo.

Who would you be starstruck to meet?
Jesus.

What do you drive and why?
A Fiat, of course! And I don’t care who revs up beside me, I’ll race ’em!

What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
Well, I wouldn’t call it a superpower, but when I was six years old, I bled to death in a hospital and crossed over. I still see on the other side.

What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
Well, I was a private investigator for five years. I have my Police Sciences Diploma.

If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
Something Italian; probably a pasta dish or stuffed peppers.

What current trend or popular thing do you not understand at all?
Instagram and Twitter, I stink at them.

Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
Ciccio is my singing Maltese. He is my soul dog, 12 years old.

If you could have any other job besides music, what would it be and why?
I would be a TV talk show host. I love it, and I love interviewing people.

What’s the best advice and/or worst advice you were ever given?
To separate myself from me the product. This way you never get hurt.

Watch the video for I Like It In The Water above, hear more from Maria Manna below, and keep up with her via her website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.