Hailing from Queens, New York, powerhouse vocalist MARi is bringing a musical tapestry of texture, color and style to the Contemporary Christian Music arena with her upcoming debut album, Treasure. The album will be available on May 27th via Nashville-based Elevate Entertainment and Syntax Distribution.
Q: Thanks for doing this interview with us. Tell us a little bit more about yourself and how the Lord has guided you thus far to the release of your debut album.
A. Thank you for having me!
It's really amazing how God has brought me to this very moment. The doors that have opened for me, the people I'm working with, and the journey I am on is like my very own fairytale... except it's real!
I am a girl from New York and I love fashion, music, and anything art because hey, I take after my Father, the greatest Creator ever.
I have been a worship leader for the past 15 years here in NYC because that's my first heart but I felt like it was time for me to go beyond the walls of the physical church building to reach every crevice worldwide like it says in Mark 6:15. Though I am still an active worship leader, I took the time to create my debut album Treasure after getting an amazing production, management, creative, booking, and everything else team...here we are!
Q: You have said in your press release that you do not like to be pigeon holed in one style of music. How then would you describe your sound to our readers who may not have heard your music yet?
A. My music is like a piñata, there's something in it for everyone!
Just like I change my wig from the grocery store, to the post office, and airport but still have the same face so that you can see that it's me, I like to change it up with my music as well.
I guess you could say Spanglish pop with a lot of "sabor" (flavor) if you needed to pick a genre. You will hear a little reggae, fiery Latin tunes, hot dance tracks, moving ballads, and worship. Though they are different styles, you'll still always hear MARi through each song.
You may find yourself singing, dancing, laughing, or crying at any moment because musically and lyrically it takes you on an adventure that is my story.
Q: Which artists would you say influence you both as a Christian as well as a musician?
A. I've loved Toby Mac since I was a little girl because he has always been cutting edge without losing himself or going over the edge. I love his heart for bringing amazing artists with the gift to really touch lives through music and how he hones their gifts and sets them forth. I definitely want to be able to open the doors for amazing new artists one day as well.
I'd also have to say I love Jaci Velasquez because hey, she's Jaci Velasquez! But really she is beautiful inside and out and I love her heart to reach the Spanish and English community. I grew up singing her songs in church with my little "pistas" (instrumental tapes) from the Christian bookstore.
Q: You have also said that your music is your message. What is your message that you are trying to convey through your new album?
A. I would love for people, when they hear my music, that they hear wholesome sounding Christian and commercial music without compromise. The message in my songs are a lot of faith and trust in God no matter what circumstances look or feel like. "I believe in Jesus" speaks about having faith in the unseen, hope in what I believe.
These songs are meant to inspire and cause people to dream and ask God big questions. I was always that dreamer and knew God would bring me all over the world one day for His glory but we are all human and our faith falters sometimes, so it's awesome to hear and see someone else who has gone through the fire and made it out even better and stronger, more than one could have ever hoped or imagined.
Q: Tell us more your new album "Treasure." Why did you entitle the record "Treasure"?
A. Treasure is my heart's story and the core of my album. The greatest treasure I ever received was Jesus, the day He came into my heart at 9 years old and it was the best day and the first day of the rest of my life.
I remember the day He first gave me the chorus to "Treasure." It was so quiet and I was just praying in a moment where I just wanted God's confirmation and reassurance in my life, and like a Good Father, He answered me with those lyrics and that melody. He has literally taken my ruins and turned them into treasure. Joy has truly come in the morning just like it says in Psalm 30:5.
Treasure is my promise and has helped me get through some tough moments, where I felt like letting go of the rope. I am so happy I went through a lot of the challenges that I had to face because it shaped me into who I am today, and allows to me now be able to go and spread the message to others that they are also God's precious treasures and that any dreams they may have buried, or any situation or mess they seem to find themselves in that God can, and will, restore and renew them.
Q: What are you most proud of when it comes to this new album?
A. I'm amazed at how fast these songs came forth, the quality, the art, and everything happened like boom, boom, boom. Over half of the songs on the album I wrote in one night and then next thing I new my heart was on a disc, and it was incredible!
Q: How has the making of this album deepen or strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ our eternal treasure?
A. When I tell you any and every obstacle came up out of nowhere physically, spiritually, and emotionally, it was no joke! This was where I had to stop and remember and put into faith those lyrics that God gave to me for others into practice for myself.
Job 23:10 was my best friend for quite a while because it says "And when He tests me, I will come out as pure gold."
I was that coal, rough around the edges, but in the end He made me shine bright like a diamond. Which was also my inspiration for my song "Shine Brighter."
God made me make sure that I wasn't just putting out great music but was going to use my platform for His glory. Before He could give me the keys to the kingdom, He needed to make sure I was ready.
Sometimes we think we are, and we are not.
I went through a physical and spiritual transformation getting myself healthy in both areas after a major illness and weight loss that caused me to have to truly cling to Jesus and trust that just like it says in Psalm 118:17 that I would live and not die and declare the works of the Lord.
Just like my anthem song "Alive" relays, I know that today I'm alive for this purpose, and what I went through causes me to never forget that and to stay the course.