Feature: Maiya Blaney
Maiya Blaney’s eyelids are two different colors. She once met a stranger who told her that such coloration is the sign of an “anointed one” in Rastafarian beliefs, meaning someone who sees the world differently. If this deduction is true, Maiya is an exceptional example. When Blaney enters a room, she is followed by an air of positivity and warmth. Upon first speaking with her, you are met with an immediate perception of her determination to spread her light. Luckily for us, she has chosen to spread that light through music, offering a beautiful, unique new voice to the industry. Studying musical theatre at Pace University, Maiya is working to gain technical training that she feels is already helping her develop the stamina necessary for success in the art industry. However, she notes that she prefers to keep her studies and her artistry separate. Maiya acknowledges the impact that New York City has on her artistry, and she calls the environment “fast, desensitizing, and primal.” She notes, “I really do think that if you know how to be alone in New York City, and still find happiness, you can be happy anywhere and at any time for the rest of your life.”
She explains that the city has been influential in the formation of her own independence and identity, certain truths that she aims to express in her music. Maiya explains that singing live allows her to learn more about herself, and she describes her artistic mission as the desire to tell those truths, and to always remain secure in them. She strongly resists becoming a pattern, and recognizes that to meet only the expectations of others is to live a limited life.
We sat down with Maiya to talk music and identity. Naturally, we asked the most pressing question first.
DM: What is your zodiac sign?
MB: Virgo, with moon in pisces and sagittarius rising.
DM: How did your upbringing impact your identity and your dreams?
MB: I was raised by my mom, who immigrated from Haiti and later moved to Queens, and my dad who was born and raised in Newark, NJ. Both of my parents came from pretty humble beginnings, and they didn’t really have that much growing up. But, both of them went on to get Ivy League educations and were both the first in their families to do so. Growing up, I’ve always had this mantra: If I want something, I’m going to make it for myself. That’s definitely something my parents taught me, that I can achieve anything as long as I actively do what I have to do to get it.
DM: Who inspires you?
MB: Musically, people that inspire me would definitely be Erykah Badu, Solange, Beyoncé, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, and there’s a new artist called Charlotte Dos Santos who is really cool. All the music in my house always had a very specific sound. My parents were big jazz people, very into neo-soul as well, so those were the sounds of my childhood. Old records by Sarah Vaughan and Miles Davis made me look up to those artists, as they made me feel so comfortable with myself and with my family. They remind me of having dinner, or being on a trip or something with my family, because we were always listening to that music at home or in the car. Outside of music, I’m inspired by Angela Davis, Maya Angelou, and other pillars of women’s rights.
DM: What does being a Black woman mean to you?
MB: It means being me. It means being beautiful. What’s very special about me coming into my own in terms of my Blackness and in terms of my womanhood is the fact that I get to write that narrative for myself every day. I can be my own representation of it, and I don’t have to have the exact story of any other Black woman in America; she can have that story, and I can have mine.
DM: If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
MB: If I could change one thing in the music industry, it would be the need to put music into a single genre, specifically for, like, Apple Music and Soundcloud. I don’t really make music with the intention of fitting it into a certain genre, because it’s always going to sound like me, and I don’t fit into one genre. I just sound like me.
DM: Where would you like to be in ten years?
MB: In ten years, hopefully I’m just happy and surrounded by people I love, trust, and respect. I hope my life is filled with empathy, music, good food, love, and travel. I hope I’ll be financially stable. [Laughter] For real.
Disruptive has had the pleasure of listening to Maiya perform, and her music is as profound as that which motivates its creation. Though she wrote her first original song just last year, her smooth vocals are poised, professional, and powerful. Maiya prefers to move quietly, and cannot reveal specifics about her next work. While the details of her upcoming projects unknown, we must rest with the knowledge that they are in the works. When we are again blessed with Maiya Blaney’s creations, they will be available on Apple Music and Spotify. Find her on Instagram, @maiyablaney.