- Written by David Glowacki
I had the pleasure to meet the 23-year-old Detroit native exactly 1 year ago this week at the 2019 Abilities Expo at the LA Downtown Convention Center. That day, Ali performed her original music on the main stage and I was so impressed with her vocal, piano and guitar playing that I encouraged her to apply for the 2020 Anton Yelchin Artist Grant in Music.
When did you start playing music?
I started singing when I was 7 years old and then around 12 years old I began learning piano and guitar. During my medical treatments, I had a lot of time at home and I gravitated towards the piano in our living room. Pretty soon afterwards, I found out that I loved the piano and started taking lessons, and I still do. There’s still much I need to learn. I feel as long as I live, I still won’t learn everything. There’s so much to learn.
What style of music do you enjoy playing?
When I was younger, I started with beginner books and simple songs. But I wanted to learn more contemporary music rather than classical. I started learning chords and eventually I started writing my own songs with those chords. I wanted to write in the style of contemporary, pop, Americana, and folk music, like Ed Sheeran and John Maher.
When was your first concert performance?
The first ever performance was when I was 7 and I performed in choir. I didn’t even know I could sing!... and neither did my family! I sang a solo, and afterwards everyone was coming up to me crying. I said, “Was it that bad??”. But it was totally opposite. They were blown away. Once I saw how people could be affected by music and singing, I knew right then and there, at 7 years old, that’s what I wanted to do in life. My family was always very supportive. At 13, I performed my first gig out on stage, and it was really awesome. It was amazing to see the reaction, and it kept me going from there.
Is music therapeutic for you?
When performing a song, it’s my 3 minutes of no pain. When I was younger, I wasn’t very good saying how I felt out-loud. But, I could sing it in my songs. When I was 13, my lung capacity was around 19%. Because I was singing, I was exercising my lungs, and music actually helped save my life. It went from below 19% and now I have 30%. The doctors couldn’t even figure out how I could sing like I could. They would say, how’s that even possible?
What are your music plans for the future?
I just released a new cover song called, “Someone You Loved” by Louis Capaldi. I have been constantly writing new music and songs for my next album. I hope to be more prevalent in the music industry, and to be making more of a living with what I love to do. I just want to get my music out there, and inspire people with my music. I plan on releasing one new song each month.
What kind of music gear do you use?
First, I started off on a beginner guitar, and then my first real guitar was a mini Martin acoustic. I picked the mini Martin because Ed Sheeran has that model. Ed Sheeran really inspired me to play guitar. I really hope to meet him one day. Then, a fan contacted me and actually wanted to buy me a new guitar. He offered to buy me ANY guitar I wanted and wouldn’t take NO for an answer. So, I picked out a custom Taylor T5 made of Koa wood. It’s the best piece of equipment that I own. I also play a Yamaha weighted keyboard. Nothing special… I’m actually in need of a new keyboard soon. And for microphones, I have a Blue Baby Bottle microphone that I use in my home studio.
How will you be using the grant money?
Thank you so much for the grant. As I mentioned before, I’m in need of a new keyboard, so it’s likely I will be using some of the grant money to buy a new one. I’ll probably buy some additional new musical equipment as well! Thank you again.
Congratulations again Ali. You are an inspiration!
Ali’s McManus’s Website https://www.alimcmanus.com