Zita Barbara's music is back with another great single!
With excellent releases such as “Rich & Beautiful,” “Walls,” and “Too Little, Too Late,” Zita Barbara showcases her incredible talent both as a songwriter and as a recording artist. With her unique voice, outstanding performances, and memorable melodies, her songs stand out, becoming a clear picture and testimony of our times.
Today, at Planet Singer, we have the great pleasure of listening to her latest singles and discover more about her music with an exclusive interview!
Hi Zita, thanks a lot for being here with us today at Planet Singer. Your recent singles, “Rich & Beautiful,” “Walls,” and “Too Little, Too Late,” are truly outstanding! We are thrilled to know more about your music and your artistic journey so, let’s start from the beginning! How did you discover your passion for music?
My mom will tell you that I started singing at nine months old. My first song was “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Most people have “first words,” while I had a “first song.” I don’t come from a musical family; no one plays instruments or sings well. I was known as “the family radio.” I put myself to audition for school choirs to find other singers. In 8th grade, I was bullied by a group of girls that decided to corner me into “singing competitions” after choir. I would always lose the competitions. These competitions were excuses to say whatever they wanted about my voice to give me a complex. They mainly said it was “too ugly and loud” nearly every school day. If I tried out for any solo parts, they would cough insults while I sang. This led me to songwriting. The bullies had no clue that they actually helped me… by making me feel that my voice was so “different,” I started writing songs I felt “fit my unique voice” rather than totally giving up. This bullying also led to opera singing voice classes with the chair of the San Antonio Opera Company (at the time). Opera gave my “loud” and “projecting” voice a place… finally. Attention from an encouraging voice teacher helped undo a lot of the damage and false beliefs I had about my voice due to the bullying. By college, I regarded getting bullied as one of “the worst-best things that ever happened to me.” The opera lessons led to a music scholarship in college, and that led to a first recording of a song I wrote that was reviewed by a local newspaper… and here I am now.
“Rich & Beautiful” is more than a great song; there is much more behind this track. Can you tell us more about this project?
“Rich & Beautiful” started out as a song called “Friend-Zone.” I am so happy that I did not go in the “Friendzone” direction. Imagine where the “Rich & Beautiful” chorus is belted out and replace those lyrics with, “Get me out of the friend-zone!” Now I think, “Yeah, there is no way belting that at the top of one’s lungs is gonna get a person out of the friend-zone.” (There is another song about the precarious friend-zone coming.) “Rich & Beautiful” was reworked for my fashion shows.
Where do you find your inspiration?
With “Rich & Beautiful,” a model in one of my fashion shows complained that the music I was performing was not good for the catwalk. This complaint, paired with an invitation to take one of my musical-fashion shows to Los Angeles. (My shows are like the “Victoria Secret” fashion shows where pop stars perform alongside the models.) This had me “cat-walking” in the studio and constructing lyrics around fashion to debut the song at one of downtown LA’s premiere clubs, “The Exchange.” With other songs, I draw my inspiration from my life. For example, when I was in Hawaii, I listened to “island pop music.” A couple of months later, I was inspired to use island-pop sounds in a song called “Butterflies.”
Your songwriting is truly unique, and we are very curious to know: how do your songs come to life? Can you reveal what your creative process is?
Well, it all starts with a melody that will suddenly “pop” into my head. From there, it festers. I feel that it is my task to “bring it to life” if it starts becoming annoying. For example, I could be just as normal as anyone else, doing something mundane… then “pop” a melody will pop into my head. If it decides to stick around, I’ll start humming it… and eventually, I invent some words so I can start singing it like a song. This is how “Rich & Beautiful” was at first called “Friend-Zone.” I believe it even had ridiculous lyrics saying “friends-with-benefits.” So, the first set of lyrics may not even make much sense to me, or for the song. I am thankful to have a good set of people I use to bounce my first ideas off of… because they save me from my bad ideas. At one point, not only was I committed to the “Friend-Zone” direction, I was actually more excited about that over “Rich & Beautiful.” The rest of my construction process is a series of in-studio scratch recordings in order for me to listen to what I am saying outside of my mind’s voice. Lyrics will come easy to me, or in some cases, it can take two years… It all depends on what happens to “pop” into my mind. With “Too Little, Too Late,” the lyrics came to me while in the recording session, and I wrote them down on a plain sheet of paper. Another song, “Turnaround,” took about two years of stand-in lyrics until one day, the perfect chorus lyrics came to me while taking a bath. There is no real “formula” except for an inner-knowing when I stumble on something. My whole energy locks into a state of “that’s it.” After I record my vocals, I will also intuitively know through how I feel which recording is strongest. I “go with my gut.”
Memorable melodies, excellent songwriting, but also a strong message. Your music is not only aimed to entertain your listeners but to deliver a message as well. How important is it for you to express yourself and resonate deeply with your listeners through your music?
When the music is good, it feels like a “spiritual bath.” One of my favorite albums is Dido’s “No Angel.” I can listen to the entire album, and it puts me in a calm state. Her voice is calming, her music is mellow, and each song is well-constructed. I can count on this music to put me in a “better mood” after a long day. Especially her one song that blew up in the 90’s “Thank You,” that speaks about having a hard day, but it is all okay because she gets to come home to the person she loves. When it comes to my own music, I want listeners to experience being “lifted away” for just a little while for their own “spiritual bath.” I want to give people what my favorite artists gave me, a refuge, a sanctuary. With all this brand new technology, humans are the most “connected” they have ever been, and also…the most disconnected they have ever been. Situations like go out to eat with someone but texting under the table. Brand new concepts like “ghosting,” where we give another person a very abrupt and hard-to-understand message that we want nothing to do with them without much explanation… maybe no explanation at all… and leaving them to “pick up the pieces” of an emotionally shattering situation while figuring all that out. Online bullying is also something that people have to deal with now. A very “connected” world is a double-edged sword. Finding a good sense of self is harder than ever (it seems) because of a need to project “Rich & Beautiful” online while also dealing with “Walls” privately. This is why I choose lyrics and messages to help heal, boost confidence and have a deeper level of meaning. I know what it is like to be bullied, so for my song “Walls,” I chose to write lyrics about a person looking into the mirror and telling themselves a positive mental script. For “Too Little, Too Late,” I chose to write about “the one that got away” as more people have the ability to know when someone they want has moved on to someone else (thanks to social media). My desire is to use “connectivity” for good with my music. I feel that strong messages give an extra layer of complexity so that listeners play the song more than once and extract more from it each time they play it.
Your single, “Walls,” is another incredible track you released this year. Intense lyrics and powerful melodies make the song go straight to the listeners’ hearts! Can you tell us more about this song and the story behind it?
“Walls,” as I mentioned above, has to do with the need to isolate in order to protect oneself from “getting hurt.” We build walls when we get rejected, by peers, by love, by parents… whatever the case may be… someone expressed to me that it is about the decision to “come out.” I don’t mind when people make the lyrics apply to their situation. Lately, I have been writing in a way that “leaves it open to interpretation.” For me, “Walls” has to do with all of the incidents in my own life that caused me not to express myself with my musical talents, in love, or playing-it-safe by not taking a chance. Playing it safe is like a cage. On the one hand, a cage will give you the protection you desire, and on the other hand, it will keep you locked inside. This is what happens when people decide to construct “walls” to protect themselves from getting hurt. Yes, for sure… there is no pain… and for sure, there is the pain of not truly expressing yourself. Oprah Winfrey once said that the point of life is to become the fullest expression of self. In that respect, if a person is hiding behind “Walls,” it is a painfully painless place to be.
Are you planning any live gigs or live streams anytime soon?
I did about two years of traveling with music, and fashion shows…and then COVID put a cap on that. In the meantime, I have been recording new material, getting music videos done, and designing. I signed on for Fashion Week New York for next year… so I am sure that another bushel of shows is in the works!
Fantastic! If you could collaborate with an artist that influenced you and your music, who would you like to share a song and the stage with?
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. The song “Too Little, Too Late” was partly inspired by meeting them. I had the opportunity to actually get up to sing with them… but I didn’t take it because this was in a very “polite” environment. I was afraid the party I was with would have frowned on it, even though it would have been a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for me. That day, I didn’t miss my opportunity to “slip” my music to them. I even took my chance to “elevator pitched” my song “Until We Meet Again” to Garth Brooks. Which I don’t even mind if he doesn’t sing it, I applaud my own bravery! It was after this meeting; and getting to listen to his explantation of how he felt torn after meeting Trisha Yearwood that I felt I knew what he was trying to explain “the one that got away” scenario of meeting the perfect person at the wrong time. I understood that emotion pretty well as the writer behind “Walls.” A culmination of things led to the lyrics of “Too Little, Too Late” being so deep… and the Garth/Trisha meeting was one significant element to bring that song together. If I had some fantasy play out, Garth and Trisha actually listen to that song and are like, “we want to do a duet.” In fantasy-land, this song wins a major award, and then they are like, “we heard you missed your shot at singing with us… so now… we are inviting you up to sing now with us as we accept this award.” That would blow my mind!
What are your plans for the future?
I have more music coming out as a result of isolating during COVID. In fact, having the opportunity to sit with myself and reflect has given me the opportunity to construct some major projects. I will be participating in Fashion Week New York to introduce my fashion and catwalk song “Rich and Beautiful” to New York. I have a lot of exciting plans coming… but also a lot of work!
Zita, it was such a pleasure having you with us today. We can’t wait for your future releases! Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
If there is anything you take from my music or this interview, is to keep pursuing your dream in spite of bullies… internet trolls… other people’s opinions… I could have “stopped” several times in my own music journey, especially after getting bullied. Those “unfortunate” events lent me the material for my songwriting. The bullying led me to take another path that made my vocals stronger. I took everything in stride and used the bad events to my advantage. In a way, it gives me a positive message to share now for someone out there who is also struggling with themselves. Life presents us with many opportunities to construct walls and isolate… especially now. If you learn anything from my experience, it is that you can make the most of even the worst-case scenarios. You might be going through something painful at the moment… it is just a moment. Life is a series of “ups and downs.” When you are down far enough, reach a rock bottom, there will be nowhere to go but up. One day, through your own journey, you will be able to impart your own wisdom to someone else and find meaning in the struggles you have survived.
Check the links below, discover more about Zita Barbara and her music, and don’t forget to add her tracks to your favorite playlists!
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