Mali Woods is a classical pianist, self-taught guitar player, songwriter, producer and recording artist publishing music. She has released her music through the Indie label U-Neon. You can download her new album and listen to her cover of Eminem's Lose Yourself here.
I left Minnesota ten years ago for Los Angeles with only a backpack, $300, nowhere to live and a dream to make a new kind of folk music. Through the help of those who believed in me, I was able to start a record label called Maternal Records. People unexpectedly came forward with support. Giving me a computer and helping me buy music software, a guitar, a drum machine and keyboard to produce and compose. But, just as I started to make progress, things fell apart. Jobs were lost, money ran out, and everything was sold to prevent going homeless. What appeared so promising had evaporated.
That was eight years ago.
I tried to move on, but my heart wouldn't leave me alone. Keep trying it said, even when I strongly disagreed. So, eventually, slowly, again, I started. This time partnering with someone who shared the same dream as me, my fiance Moe Johnson. We co-founded Uneon a multi-media company, and Indie label. We saved up and bought laptops from craigslist. Months passed…a guitar…months passed…recording software…months passed a keyboard…months passed a microphone. Like a drop of water we slowly wore down the blocks in front of us, determined to make our way along a path strewn with defeats and triumphs, deaths and births. Our love for one another, and our dreams, helps us persevere — a love that may never have happened had I not made the hardest choice in my life.
While growing up in the midwest, I had dated someone outside of my race. My family did not approve. They gave me the impossible ultimatum of continuing to date outside of my race, or remain a part of the family. Though it appeared to be a choice, deep down I knew there wasn't one. I knew my love of diversity and unity was thicker than blood. My family was only doing what they thought was best for me, but if I hadn't left, I would have never met my fiance nor would I written this album. Not only because he was living in Los Angeles but because the true love of my life, my soulmate, is African American.
Some believe my fiance and I shouldn't be together. Even with Obama as president there are still black and white people who don't approve. I know that on the outside we couldn't appear more different. I grew up on folk and rock in an upper middle class white suburb of Minnesota, and he grew up on hip hop in a lower income urban black neighborhood of Los Angeles. But on the inside, we couldn't look more alike. We share the same heart.
We Are One and Until We Love are two songs on the album that address the reasons I came to Los Angeles. Until we see that separatism and duality are an illusion, there will continue to be conflict in ourselves and the world. It's a simple message, but the deepest, original truth…the only purpose of everything we experience in life is love. Without that, there is no way out of our problems.
The soul of Hip Hop, Folk and World music (e.g. Lauryn Hill, Ani Difranco, Neil Young & Timbaland) inspired me to be courageous in my life, songwriting and business. But it was my heart and my fiance that proved to me that the smallest dream can still manage to grow with only a little “bread and water” and that those are the bread crumbs that lead us “Outta the Woods.”
Though I am not really into folk music, I find Mali's music interesting, upbeat, and perhaps most importantly, authentic. Whether you love folk or not, will you tell her Atta Girl for not giving up on her dream?
What music inspires you to be courageous?
If you were to write a song, who would be your musical influences?