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Meet Ilaria Cerini

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ilaria Cerini.

Ilaria, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story starts with my first recital 5th grade. Or maybe even before, singing for my grandma while my dad played guitar. Whichever the case, since I was a kid I always felt like singing was part of who I was, of my personality. But I had to wait my 16th birthday to start taking singing classes, since my mum wouldn’t let me start too young, afraid of some vocal damage. Music started to be part of my life in a way that it literally becomes sort of a best friend before I could even experience what a best friend was.

American and English pop, soul and rock music from the 50s to the 80s got my attention and my heart pretty soon. Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Queen. But only after my graduation from college I finally decided to pursue a career in the entertainment business. I got accepted in Rome in a professional musical academy and found a new passion in acting. Still, nothing was as strong as what I felt for music. So I started auditioning and participating to singing contests, realizing that people were really enjoying my vocal timbre as something very special recognizable.

In 2015, I finally decided both for personal and artistic reasons to move to Los Angeles. The day I got here, I did not know anyone and I still wasn’t enrolled in any school. That’s how I started writing. Bought myself a Casio Keyboard for $299 and started my adventure in Los Angeles. Throughout these five years, I had the opportunity to meet with some amazing professionals. Some of them were my teachers at UCLA Extension (where I completed three certificates: Independent Music Production, Music Business and Acting) and that’s how I started working as a session singer, giving my voice to songs for commercials and movies. I also started singing in jam sessions around town, like the Viper Room one.

I have had the honor to collaborate with musicians like producer David Campbell, arranger and mentor Dave Isaac (who throughout his incredible life worked with artists like Micheal Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Whitney Houston), co-writer and piano player of ‘A star is born’ soundtrack Alberto Bof, with whom I co-wrote and performed three tracks for the documentary ‘Unposted’ about one of world’s most famous influencer, Chiara Ferragni.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest struggle has always been within myself. Being Italian, coming from a different culture had me often feeling different: ‘weird’ enough to feel misunderstood and lonely but not enough to be able to use it in my art and feel ‘seen’, noticed, outstanding. I often felt that I wasn’t good enough, mostly because adapting to a new culture is not as easy and requires a great dose of humility. Not being able to exactly understand what the other musicians are talking about, what your producer is asking from you or simply trying to fit in in certain music contests without understanding references or maybe choosing the wrong words: it’s all part of the process, and for how open-minded and diverse Los Angeles is, the cultural shock is real. Also, wanting to write and perform soul and rnb music, which are not part of my native culture, made things harder on my self-esteem. The other big obstacle for the foreigners are the visa issues.

There’s also another kind of challenge that’s dealing with a sense of guilt towards the place you left behind, your people, the things and situations that shaped you, in good and bad. It comes with the awareness that you just won’t be able to come back ever again.

Nonetheless, you will get older in a country that wasn’t yours in the first place.

You will ultimately have to accept that the new world is never really and deeply going to understand who you are. And this is strictly connected to music from the moment you need to pick a language to write your lyrics. You want to be understood, so you write in English, but in that way you won’t be able to express your inner world as good and as precisely, because a language is indeed reflection of a culture: if a concept or habit or idea doesn’t exist, there won’t be a word for it.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I consider myself a performer. I am a studio and live music session vocalist. My style is defined by great dynamics, technical precision and a great stage presence. As I have been told before, “there’s an incredible strength in the sweetest parts of your voice”. I sing with honesty, I practice until I know that the message that I am sending within the song is real, necessary and not expecting an applause. Although I have been writing my own material, I love to sing and interpret songs from other artists.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think that it is fundamental to embrace where you come from and your history in order to really tell something that connects with people and that they’d be interested to hear. Other two very important points are:

Never compare yourself to anyone else.
Never think that it’s too late.

Always practice your instrument and always be curious of the music that comes from all around the world.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Vanessa Crocini, Marco Sari

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