Detroit-bred singer-songwriter MoZella has been making waves in the music scene over the past few years. Her tale is one of hard work and determination. Moving to the West Coast after graduating high school to pursue music, when things didn’t develop as quickly as she hoped, MoZella found herself decorating cakes by day and performing in coffee shops at night. All her hard work eventually paid off, as she was signed to Madonna’s Maverick Records in 2004.
Since then, MoZella toured with notable acts including Dave Matthews Band, Lifehouse, Michelle Branch and Colbie Caillat and has had songs featured in numerous television series and commercials. Her most recent release, Belle Isle has received much praise for it’s infectious vocals and catchy beats. Additionally, MoZella combines her love of older classics with a blend of pop, soul, and jazz for a truly unique sound.
To find out what inspires MoZella as well as her songwriting process, read below. Be sure to catch her June 10th at Santos Party House for Girls Who Rock, a benefit concert for She’s the First.
What first sparked your decision to pursue a career in music?
I think my love of music is hereditary. My mom loved music. My grandfather (her father) was a great singer and would play me Stevie Wonder, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Roberta Flack records when I was little. I was obsessed with music at a really young age. I had a pretty mature CD collection by the 5th grade filled with Nirvana, Snoop & Dr. Dre, Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Metallica, and Sheryl Crow.
By the time I was 13 I was going to shows regularly. I breathed music. Then I started playing the guitar in high school and playing at local coffeehouses once a week. After writing a few songs and playing them for an audience, I knew that is what I was meant to do. So, I guess it was a series of tiny sparks that created this burning desire to make music the rest of my life.
What inspires you?
In life, my mom inspires me. She just got her masters online while working a full time job in traveling medical sales. What woman in her 50’s has the courage or the desire to even do something like that? (She put herself through nursing school then anesthesia school as a single mom when I was a kid as well)! She’s always looking for ways to better herself. I really admire her. If she can do all that, then I can also ride the waves of my career with courage and optimism.
Creatively, I’m inspired by everything I come into contact with on a daily basis. Movies, books, children who make me laugh, photographs, art in a gallery, sunshine, good food, my friends funny stories, etc. They all fuel my songwriting process in different ways.
What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced? How did you overcome them?
I’ve faced quite a few obstacles (being dropped from my first label was one of the hardest) but I try to be thankful for those lessons every day. They’ve made me a more compassionate person and a more heartfelt songwriter. After moving to LA at age 18, I was alone and scared. I prayed for courage and kept moving forward. This is what I do every day. At times when things don’t go my way, I tell myself to never quit and stay determined to have a victory. I turn the poison of mean people, harsh critics, and self doubt into medicine that helps me grow.
What’s your songwriting process?
Every song is different. Sometimes I hum a melody and then grab the guitar. Sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes a title comes to me and I have to save it in my notebook. Sometimes I get with a fellow songwriter and we just start playing the piano and singing and 30 minutes later a song is born.
What was your favorite class, besides music?
I loved physics. I had a great teacher my senior year who let me teach the class an entire lesson on how objects fall at the same rate. I’ll never forget that. He really believed in my knowledge and ability to explain things. It gave me a big boost of confidence.
I also loved Spanish class. I’m bilingual now thanks to taking four years of Spanish in high school! I feel bad that I gave my teacher such a hard time. Sorry Mrs. Powlakowski!!!
What were you the first to do or what will you be the first to do?
I think I might be one of the first Buddhist female pop singers.
What’s the next big thing happening in your career?
I’m writing for a new record, writing for other artists, and playing lots of shows including my first show in Paris in June.
What’s your favorite ‘girl power’ song?
“Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett.
Why did you decide to get involved with She’s The First?
It’s the right thing to do. I’m the woman I am because people believed in me, gave me a chance, and encouraged me to follow my dreams. It’s only right to pass that on to other girls.