Singer Mieka Pauley’s husky, enchanting voice rang through the aisles of the Greer on a recent Friday night. In this age of auto-tune, many students found it refreshing to hear someone perform without special effects as a reminder that there are true artists out there.
During her performance, Pauley sang covers such as “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley, but mostly stuck to her original songs.
Linda Anael Kegne ’14 described her performance, saying, “I felt like she sang the same way as she sang on her music video, and even better. The songs that she sung seemed to reflect her personality. One could feel her connection to her lyrics. As an audience member, I could sense her trying to engage us with her songs.”
Pauley explained that her writing process defines her music, noting that the music she writes herself is generally very dark and personal. Whenever she faces a struggle, Pauley said, “I let it marinate in my subconscious or unconscious. It comes out later when I am not actually in that moment. I am not inspired by external things, things that happen outside of me.”
On the subject of influences, Pauley said, “I am very inspired by female vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday.”
For Pauley, the plus side of the music industry is the feeling of being on stage and connecting with her audience. She also loves the community of musicians that she meets. “I initially thought music would be a solitary pursuit. It’s not,” Pauley said.
When asked about the challenges Pauley faces, she said, “I don’t understand business, and business is a huge part of music. I wish I had a more inherent feel for it. A lot of times I need to trust other people to make decisions for me. Pay attention to business early on, because people can really take advantage of you.” She noted, “I hate the idea of treating yourself like a company. You earn money and you put it back into yourself. It’s not just artistic creativity.”
Though she has opened for Eric Clapton and featured on billboards across the country, Pauley marks more personal experiences as the most rewarding. “Twice I got to sing the national anthem for the Red Sox at Fenway. That was huge, because it was like my life coming together. My family are huge Red Sox fans. To be able to tell them that I was singing the national anthem for the Red Sox actually meant something to them,” remembered Pauley.
Despite her great talent, Pauley said, “Singing has always been a part of my life, but the first time I actually realized that I could sing for a living was after college.” She noted, “Knowing that I had a Harvard degree let me take chances that I would not have otherwise taken.”
Pauley added that although she is not exactly where she would have envisioned herself as a singer, she is extremely grateful that she can make a living by doing what she really loves to do.