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Reaching Down As Far As You Go

Mitra DjaliliMitra DjaliliJust after I had the pleasure of being invited to write this piece for TW, my husband Edward White who is a film composer and my producer called me to the studio to add some vocals for a track he is currently working on.  Feeling nervous but weirdly confident at the same, we worked on some very simple melodies enunciated with some oo’s and aa’s. Edward is immensely talented and I sometimes feel totally inadequate, but he is my number one fan and someday I hope to be able to perform with the likes of Hans Zimmer or with Quincy Jones.

Although I was on stage acting and singing since the age of 5, which you could argue was my musical education, I have never had any formal training.  We left Iran with nothing and had since always struggled to make a living. Dance classes which I always craved for, were just a financial impossibility. I remember being taken to one, just to appease me but that was the only one. In my teenage years, my father bought me a very old ‘untuneable’ piano which kept me going for a while.  I took some kooky piano lessons from an 85 year old woman which combined with the practically unplayable piano, did not suffice to build on my aspiration and I just gave up.

 Mitra Djalili - "17th Raindance Film Festival Trailer" by Rowland KimberMitra Djalili - "17th Raindance Film Festival Trailer" by Rowland KimberNevertheless I was always the leading actress in all school productions and when I got cast into West Side Story with Opera Northern Ireland at the age of 17, I felt validated for the first time. Although I narrowly missed out on the role of Anita – the character I actually wanted to play, I was just so thrilled at being involved with a professional musical company. The next year I was cast in the Ulster Theatre Company by the same director singing the most famous song in the musical Gospel which was ‘Day by Day’.  I even got a write up in the paper and was recognized in the street.

Going through a Performing Arts degree with a semester in the States, and making some seemingly ‘wrong’ decisions along the way, I didn’t really know what to do after University– pursue acting or pursue singing. Trouble is, I just loved both and still do.  So I came to London and spent about 4 years gigging and going from one producer to another, never really finding the one high class producer I was looking for.

Mitra DjaliliMitra DjaliliMeeting, marrying and working with my husband has been a Godsend and a challenge at the same time. Whilst he comes from a solid education in music and has developed an astounding technique in sound recording, I’m not comfortable in a studio environment – it’s kind of foreign to me;  I feel restricted, almost nauseous and psychosomatically develop a sore throat if I know I have to do a recording session.  But I so want to sing!  I sing all the time – in the car, on the train, walking down the street... So, I reach down as far as I can go and give it what I can because I cannot afford to let my fear take over completely. If I do, that’s it. It’ll all be over. My life as I dream it will be over but working hard is always worth it.

Thank God I have a husband who loves me no matter what and thank God we are both on the same page, riding this journey together. I want to make music for the rest of my life. I want to do well, to succeed and to be a shining star! Should those aspirations come true, I hope to become an ambassador for UNICEF. They may be lofty aspirations but they are my aspirations and I encourage anyone who has similar goals to pursue them with all the strength and persistence they have inside of them. And ask friends and family to pray for you.  Pray for yourself.  Pray for me. And above all, persist!

Persian born and raised in Northern Ireland, Mitra Djalili’s life experience and artistic sensibility stretches the confines of contemporary popular music defying cultural and idiomatic boundaries. Appealing to young and old alike, Mitra’s music blends adult sophistication with youthful exuberance addressing the universal questions of life and love. This is a woman whose music builds from jazz and R’n’B roots to a world music emotional intensity, that coupled with a polished, commercially appealing production aesthetic, makes for a truly unique listening experience.

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