She travelled across the world to peruse her dream of becoming a singer-songwriter in the Big Apple, but for talented Hong Konger Mara Measor, there's no place like home. The can-do spirit of her home city is what carries her through the trials and tribulations as she rallies up funds to release her first book and album, Naked Prayers.
Contributed by: Mara MeasorLast night, I was watching a TV show called Parenthood. In the episode, one of the main characters’ daughter, Amber, is going to an open mic night to sing an original song for the first time. She is absolutely terrified and stays in her room practicing for days. She backs out, then reconsiders. Amber’s mother tries to encourage her but somehow makes everything worse, before her grandfather steps in for a pep talk. Finally, at the end of the episode, we find Amber singing sweetly at the cafe, as her family looks on lovingly.
I cried watching.
I remember the irrational fears when I first started performing my original songs four years ago. I was convinced I would be exposed as a talentless fraud and a waste of everyone’s time the moment I stepped on stage and opened my mouth.
But like Amber, I’ve been able to continue because I too feel like I have a beautiful family quietly backing me. This loving family goes beyond my own parents and siblings. Born and raised in the New Territories till I left at 18, I proudly consider myself a child of Hong Kong.
I came to the US to study, and stayed here when opportunities opened up upon graduation. But New York City is a tough place for a singer-songwriter. Everyone around you seems to have twice your talent; even your neighbor the accountant is a master cellist who had toured the world at eighteen. So when I started performing at cafes and pubs around the city, I was a nervous wreck. I imagined everyone thinking, “What is she doing up there? That's a song?!”
Yet I persevere with the challenging life of an artist here, partly because I like to believe I carry with me the support of my home city. About twice a year I fly back to Hong Kong and play a series of shows (at Clockenflap, RTHK, live music venues and cafes, etc.), and I love it every time. Because after almost every show I play, someone from the crowd will approach me to spur me on in my musical pursuits. Each time, unexpectedly, someone will walk up to me, tell me they believe in what I'm doing, and tell me not to give up. I like to think there’s a “let’s go Hong Kong!” spirit that leads these strangers on many occasions to give me their little you-can-do-it speeches. Their support follows me all the way back to New York each time.
Coming up, I am facing my biggest challenge yet: independently releasing a book and album titled Naked Prayers
. I wrote the book and songs based on two years of my journey in New York, which included a time of great difficulty. Each page in the book is a real and honest prayer I made during that time complete with a simple drawing, while every song on the album is inspired by a specific prayer.
I’ve been working on this for a year and a half, and I recently took a big step forward. Through a crowd-funding platform called Kickstarter
, I am pre-selling this book and album to actually raise the funds to complete the project.
Once again, I am terrified. But I’ll keep going, and carry with me the love from Hong Kong.
Show your support for Hong Kong's songstress and donate your dollars here. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
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