Powerhouse vocalist MARi brings her own unique style to the holiday season with her new EP, Have Yourself a MARi Little Christmas. Produced by David Mullen, Gregatron and Paul David, the bi-lingual 5-song EP features a fresh take on MARi's favorite Christmas classics.
Always red carpet ready, the Latin diva's explosive style and vibrant wigs perfectly match her larger-than-life personality. Hailing from Queens, New York, MARi blends pop, dance and Latin rhythms into a highly infectious package that's uniquely her own.
Without a doubt, MARi is quickly becoming recognized as one of the most groundbreaking and authentic new artists in the Christian, Gospel and Latin music genres today. Her robust schedule includes her own solo headlining excursions, opening slots with artists like Grammy winner TobyMac, and a plethora of appearances on TBN and JUCE-TV.
Q: MARi, thanks for doing this interview with us. I have been reading your biography on your website and I was saddened to hear about the abuse you suffered as a child. Can you tell us what happened there?
A: Thank you for having me again, love mi Hallels familia :)
To keep a long story short (which is super hard for latinos lol) I will tell you briefly a piece of my back story.
It is sad that myself and so many children around the world suffer such abuse. I was physically, and emotionally abused. I would get hit if I tried to duck from the punch coming towards my head or if I cried because I was told that I was fat, ugly, and would never be anything.
I had to grow up at a young age, 9 going on 29. I wasn't living but surviving.
God was right there with me and helped me through, but we also have a choice. I chose to not be like my biological mother and I am an amazing mother to my beautiful daughter Mychal Esther Valencia. I chose not to live the hopeless words she spoke over me and fought to be something great. It's a process and journey that we will always be on but can make it through with love and unity.
Q: Not only did you forgive your mother, but she even accepted Christ. How did these two events happen?
A: It took many years to forgive her. It was not overnight. She haunted my dreams for years so much that I wet the bed until a grown age of 15! I would think I would see her in the street and bolt the other direction, I never wanted to see her or know anything of her again. I forgave her with words but my heart took longer and when the time finally came, I felt such pity and sadness for her. She looked and sounded terrible and I couldn't help but think that was punishment enough and she just needed to be truly forgiven. I prayed with her and she accepted the Lord and welt and wept because I forgave her but more importantly God forgave her and she felt a huge release of guilt.
The Bible says to be wise, so let's be realistic, I forgave but she is not totally in my life because she is still quite toxic and I am guarding myself, my family, and career.
Q: How did you get to know Jesus as your own Lord and Savior yourself?
A:I met the Lord when I was 9 years old. These two men came into the projects where I would visit my biological mother on and off and they came up to me and told me that God had sent them. They said that I would sing all over the world and that my story would impact the masses. They said that I would go through things along the way but that God would send people always to guide me and tell me the next step to take. Exactly as I was told, everything has been happening since that day. Religious or not I have a relationship with God and I believe He is so real because I have seen, felt, and heard Him myself.
Q: How then did you get involved in music? Did you always want to do Christian music?
A: I started singing and playing the keys as a little girl on my grandfather's piano. It's uncanny because he was also adopted and I learned from him and on the same instrument. I love him so much, he has been a major key in my life.
Jajaja, NO I did not always want to be in Christian music. Here's the part where I say what everyone is thinking and because I already look, speak, and act different then those of this industry, eyebrows raise so far they wrap back around and become a mustache!
So....I love everyone dearly and am a Christian and was a worship Pastor for 12 years, I would turn on Christian radio and turn it right off. I did not want to be a part because I don't think just because you are a Christian that means you have to dress in a potato sack up to your neck to be modest or to sing songs that make you even more sad. We are in the world, not of it. Be a Greek to the Greek and a Jew to the Jew...so, we can take hot beats with a positive message and have fabulous fashion and we will touch a lot more lives.
My amazing CCM Magazine did a review I will never forget of me, called 10 Feet out of the box. I mean, that's the best title ever! People asked if I was offended, and I said no, that's great! I never want to be in, near or anything to do with the box.
There's a difference between pride and confidence (trust me I know, I've been humbled and squashed many times). But you have to be confident that if you step out of the box and just be you, eventually man has no say, and God does what He intended with you even if it makes sense to no one.
I don't want to be labeled in any market, I make music, art, that is global and I live and love every person. I want to reach those in the bar, the tranny's love my fashion, the image abused, food addicts, everybody, through my music and message.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your new Christmas EP. Considering that there are thousands of Christmas songs out there, how did you narrow down your choices?
A:Yesssss! Gracias! This is my favorite project so far. I love everything about Christmas, I am a walking shiny Christmas tree! I honestly didn't narrow down on purpose. But I wanted quality and not quantity so we settled with an EP for this year. I have originals and some more classic twists up my sleeve for next year.
But on this EP, it came down to picking some of my favs that gave a taste of everything I love about Christmas with some classics done in MARi style.
Q: Not did you include some Spanish songs on it, but I love how you put Latin rhythms to some of the classic Christmas songs. Why is it important for you to bring out your roots in your music?
A: I think we should always be proud of who we are and where we came from. Go big or go home. People appreciate more when you are true to you because they can hear it and see it.
Q: What are your hopes for this Christmas album? How do you wish this record would impact the lives of your listeners?
A: I truly hope this Christmas music makes people laugh, dance, and dance some more! Christmas is a hard time of the year for so many and I would like to lighten the mood a bit for a moment and bring some joy and peace. It's also freezing and for those of you that are not able to travel to Puerto Rico or Cuba or somewhere deliciously warm then I will bring the heat to you. I would like it played on every station, every Christmas party. It literally is for any scenario and every age. I love people and this is my gift to everyone this year.
Q: What does Christmas mean to you personally?
A: I love the how Jesus was born into a humble place where there was no room for Him and He became the Savior.
I take that to heart because my beginnings and many of our beginning stories are like that.
Thank God it's not about how we start but how we finish. People and life will mock you along the way at times but you are valid and important, just keep going.
We feel there's no place for us when really Jesus being born paved the way for us to have not just a place but to be something great.
Merry Christmas everyone, Feliz Navidad a todos!