She considers her mother as her pillar of strength. A woman who once didn’t even know English worked herself up to become a teacher through sheer hard work. She taught her kids to be humble and caring.
Her personality is clearly reflected in 16-year-old artist who garnered attention through her presence and participation in “The Voice”. She was a part of Blake Shelton’s team.
We got a chance to talk to catch up with The Voice Season 12 finalist Aliyah Moulden who talked to us about her music and her projects. Today, the singer will be having her first big performance in Hollywood with a show titled “Rock Back Your Hair”. Check out the interview below:
Please tell us about your musical journey. How did you acquire an interest in music?
I started singing when I was three, that’s the first memory I have of singing. My mom put me in singing lessons when I was 6 years old. The first song I learned singing was “Over the Rainbow” and I performed that song everywhere.
My first performance was at 4th-grade talent show. I told my mom that I want to perform on stage and she put me in acting class and another singing class. I started performing more and more and now I am here. Rest is history.
You started quite young. How do you manage your projects and school?
It is actually very difficult to manage your projects with school. It was a lot easier in the beginning because opportunities were sparse but as you become busier and busier, you kind of forget about school and then you get a call “Hey Aliyah, where is your work” and I don’t know where it is.
When I got off The Voice, it took me some time to adjust to school work and that’s what I am doing. I want to continue with it because I do want to go to college.
It’s very difficult to balance both the things but if you have a good teacher and your parents aren’t pushing you, you get caught up and you just keep on doing your work.
Which subject would you like to choose as your major?
I would like to choose a major in commercial music and minor in business or vice versa. I think those two go hand in hand because you know, being a singer you are in an industry which is a huge business.
Being a major in commercial music, you learn so much about music industry. I am really passionate about those two majors.
Every artist has her or his perception and vision of art? Do you have one for yourself? That is, how do you perceive music?
When I was growing up, I had a difficult time fitting in school. I was not playing soccer; I didn’t do any of the sports. I was smart but I was in chess clubs and other clubs because I was taking singing lessons outside of school, performing outside of school but I never told anybody and kept it to myself. Singing is what I am passionate about.
Like basketball is to a basketball player and soccer is to a soccer playing, singing is all that there is. This is my love and this is my dream. Being able to perform was a huge honor for me. I will never forget to perform on The Voice stage. Every song that I sang, I put my soul into it and my heart into it for people to relate and for them to see who I am. It worked out and I am very grateful.
Your performance of the single “Jealous” was really heartwarming. When we went on to read the comments on that particular performance, we saw a positive response. For any particular performance, what is your mindset at that moment?
Jealous was the first slow song that I ever sang on the show. I picked that song because that song actually meant a lot to me before I was on the show and it was one of my favorite songs and it meant the absolute world to me. I have always been attached to that song but after singing it over and over again over the course of the week, by the time I had gotten on to the stage, I was so full of all these emotions, it built up. I had never sung that song before but I knew that song and once I was singing it over and over again and constantly talk about what it meant and how I felt about it, it just kind of built up. You know, right before you perform, they play a video of your rehearsal, about you talking above the song, what it means to you, and right before I went on to the stage, I was reminded of everything that I felt. While singing, I kept on telling myself not to cry. By the end of the song, I had been crying so much. I was so attached to the song and it meant a lot to me and it overwhelmed me so much.
After I got off the stage, I was still crying, I cried for an hour and they had to put me in a room because I was crying so much. I wish that I had kept it together a little more but I am very glad that I sang it.
Who do you look up to when it comes to music?
I have two. The first one is Rihanna because she is the reason why I started singing. I saw Rihanna’s video when I was six and that’s when I started going to lessons. She inspired me and I owe it all to Rihanna honestly. I really look up to her. The second one is Frank Ocean. I discovered about Frank Ocean when I was 10 and I have been listening to him ever since. He is unafraid to be who he is and he is very honest about who he is and I really admire that about him.
The third one is Chance the Rapper. Chance the Rapper and Rihanna cares and contribute so much to the community. Rihanna is very family oriented; the same with the Chance the Rapper. Both are very family oriented.
Chance the Rapper went through a very difficult time when he was in high school. His experience was a lot harder than mine. He started doing some bad stuff and he found God and he found his religion. He does so much more for his community. I can only imagine what he might have been through, he got himself involved in drugs and he cleaned himself up, found God and he is a great person today, doing so much for his community. They are people I really look up to.
Aliyah, here we see a common thread where it seems that you love the people you mentioned because of their personality and not just for their music. Do you have certain plans in mind and will you contribute to your community when you grow up?
Yes, definitely. Me and my friends have been talking about going to Africa and doing some charity work there. I know we can do that with churches but we wanna go there and do that over the summer. Also, in my personal community, even though we have a great school system, I would really like to improve the art program so that it has enough resources to fund anybody and I think that’s very important. In elementary school, middle school and high school, I didn’t feel like I belonged there because there was no commercial music program. They had the choir which had classical music. There was no commercial music like the music in the present that we have now. I felt really out of touch with my schools because I felt like I didn’t fit in because I didn’t have a group of people who love doing what I did. Even though there were people out there, they were afraid to say “hey, I want to sing. I have a good voice and I want to sing for you guys”.
If I get to improve commercial music and arts program in my community then, a lot of people like me, people who want to pursue their dreams will start pursuing them more. So many people will be out there living their dreams.
When you say commercial music, people like to listen to a variety of genres. When you say commercial music, where exactly is your focus?
My personal style of music, I would like to do gospel inspired pop music, still pop music but with gospel influences. I love gospel music so much; I wish that I had sung more on the show. It’s really what I am passionate about and what I really like listening to. I would like to incorporate gospel music in modern day pop and spread positive messages. I know everyone has different beliefs and I don’t want to impose my beliefs on other people but I think there is something so positive about gospel music, not only because it’s just about God but that about being happy and thankful. Those kind of messages are universal and I would rather spread those messages than any other message I could possibly spread because I feel like being thankful, and being part of who you are, working hard for your dreams, I think those are messages I would want to spread to people. Those are the messages that are commonly found in gospel music and I feel like that’s what I wanna share.
Please tell us a bit about your EP.
I am actually still working on it because I spent a lot of time doing school, focusing on school. I want to tell people that it’s going to be difficult from what I sang on the show but it’s gonna talk about who I am as a person, how I felt growing up, and what my dreams are. A lot of people of my age will be able to relate to it, especially those who feel distant. I am really excited to start working on it. We hope to release it next year but I am really excited.
What was it like being on Blake Shelton’s team? How is he as a mentor?
He was a great coach and amazing person with the kindest heart. I felt really close to everyone in the team. I think I made the right decision of picking him and I am grateful because had it not been for him, I don’t think I would have made it to the finale. He was an amazing coach and he wanted the best for everybody in his team. I am very grateful that I got to work with him.
Gwen, Alicia Keys, and Blake turned chairs for you. How difficult was it to make a choice and why did you end up choosing Blake Shelton?
I feel like just curiosity made me choose him. I respect them all equally but I knew so much about Gwen and so much about Alicia because I have grown up listening to them. I didn’t grow up listening to country music. So, I didn’t know much about Blake but I did know that he was a very good coach and that he has won the show many times. He spoke from his heart when he talked to me; he was so genuine and nice. I instantly felt like that was the place that I was supposed to be and he was the person I was supposed to pick as a coach as soon as I saw him. I am very grateful that I picked him and don’t regret picking him at all. I feel like that’s the best decision I could have made.
Was he able to make you listen to country music? If yes, do you have any favorite artist from the genre?
I do listen to country music now. I don’t listen to it as much as I listen to other music but I definitely appreciate country music now. My favorite song is the new Blake Shelton’s song. His song is so good and I really loved it.
What is the best advice you received from him?
It was just- constantly be positive and be happy because I was very nervous all the time. He told me that when you are nervous, it means that you care. I was very nervous because I wanted it so badly, and I feel like that’s the best advice I got from him. Because that’s the kind of message I want to send out through songs and I love singing happy songs. He constantly reminded me that even though it was a competition, I shouldn’t get caught up in my nerves.
We have read that you have been going on tours. Have you got a chance to interact with your fans?
Actually, my first big performance will be on 30th Sep in Hollywood. After I got off the show, I did school and that’s what I dedicated myself to. After I got off the show, I was doing school and filming movie. But I really wanted school to be my focus for a while.
But before The Voice, I did go on tour and I did open a show for Jesse Mccartney, Caroline Sunshine and I am gonna start doing more tours and I am gonna start performing more because I am getting more comfortable doing things as well as school and I feel like that I really want to pursue it.
My first big performance is on September 30th in Hollywood. It’s called “Rock back to school”.
Who is your go-to artist at the moment? That is, which artist’s song are you listening at the moment?
Right now, I am listening to Daniel Caesar. He kind of reminds me of Frank Ocean from couple of years ago. I still love Frank Ocean but he kind of changed his style. I really love his old style. Daniel Caesar reminds me of old Frank Ocean and I have been listening to him a lot.
You have been chosen to play a role in “Anastasia: Once Upon A Time”. How did the event come about and how do you feel about it?
I actually booked that movie, the day after I got off The Voice and I am really grateful that it happened and I am really thankful that I got to step into another project right after I did The Voice. I am grateful that they offered a role to me and we went on to film in August. I had a lot of fun. I am playing a pop star from the 80s and I am really grateful that I got to play it.
What can viewers expect from your character?
She is very much like me, very positive. She’s just a sweet girl who got very lucky that she got to live her dream. I think she knows that she lucky and she is really grateful for the opportunities that she’s been having. She is positive and uplifting and I am really grateful that I got to play her.
Aliyah, earlier, you mentioned that during school and even in The Voice, you were a self-doubting kind. Today, there are a lot of teens who face that kind of problem. Teens get overwhelmed with the opportunities they get. After what you have experience, do you have any advice for teens out there?
Yes, I feel like once you stop caring what people think about you, life becomes a lot easier because I realized no matter what I did, people were gonna judge me regardless. There is no right decision, there is only your decision, the one you are comfortable with and I also feel like that people who matter most to you have your best intentions and those are the people whose opinions matter.
You want everybody to like you but you don’t know everyone so well. Your mom’s opinion should matter, your grandmother, your brother, your sister’s opinion should matter. Everybody in school is insecure even though they don’t show it. Once you realize that everybody will be going to do their own thing and you should just focus on yourself, your family and your close friends, life becomes a lot easier. That’s what I started to focus on. I stopped worrying what people in school thought about me and what anybody thought about me. I focus on being happy and a good person and just being comfortable in my own skin.
Aliyah is currently focusing on school but 2018 seems to be a year of projects for her. So, we will be seeing her more. Have you seen her performances on The Voice? Did you like them? Share your thoughts via tweet @CelebMix.