Mira Stroika, New York's coolest young cabaret singer, to perform at the NYC Triad on March 7th.
She might very well be the brightest young star rising over New York's vocal skyline, but if your age is a little past thirty, you might not have heard of Mira Stroika, the Big Apple's newest singing sensation. Younger audiences, however, those on top of the latest and the greatest, wouldn't miss her show for anything, now that the word is getting out.
Frankly, with all the “buzz” created around her name by the young fans, a skeptical and discriminating ear might expect something simply loud and shallow, but instead you are amazed by a boundless voice, full of color and character, that brings to mind only one iconic name: the great Edith of France.
Indeed, with such a truly unlimited vocal ability, it is easy for a young artist to fall into the trap of simply impersonating the singing legends of the past, but when she sings, you realize that what you see and hear is not another copycat or sound-alike, but a true artist in her own right, with her own style and substance, easily recognizable and unmistakably modern.
Mira Stroika's eclectic neo cabaret style features a dazzling repertoire of French, Russian and Yiddish material, as well as her original whimsical story-based songwriting.
Shortly before her March 7th. performance at one of New York's chic theaters – the NYC Triad, Mira Stroika has agreed to share with us her thoughts on music, modernism, the art of singing and life in general.
- Mira, with that striking similarity, I am sure you have been asked this question as many times as you have performed: the singer recognized as the voice of Paris, the woman whose vocals gave her a true greatness and the status of a national icon – do you think it was just due to her voice?
I think it was a lot of things. It was definitely her voice but it was also her ability to use it to express herself in a way that transported her audiences. It was her strength as a person, her courage, her compassion, her intelligence, her zest for life — audiences responded to the entire being that they could feel embodied by her voice and the music. Her voice was cinematic.
My goal as a performer is to bring as much of myself into the moment and into the performance as possible. Everything is at stake when you are onstage, and I actually find a lot of joy in that.
- What do you think would have happened if the young and penniless Edith Giovanna Gassion hadn't been noticed and brought to fame by the genius of Louis Leplee, her first manager?
I am sure she would have been discovered by someone else! Of course, working with someone like Luplee enabled her to reach her full potential.
I certainly wouldn’t mind working with a manager of that caliber! But no matter what, I am sure she would have continued to sing for the public, regardless of whether it was on an international stage or not.
- When did you discover your own singing talent and how did you feel about it at the time?
I always knew I could sing but somehow kept it secret for a long time and only felt comfortable singing when I was by myself. In my teens, I started singing and accompanying myself on piano.
My first experience singing for a few thousand people was when I was 16. I sang at my synagogue, and something really clicked in that moment. It was a kind of a shock, not only to me, but to everyone present: today I still have people from my congregation bring up that performance.
Having performed professionally in New York for several years now, I have developed a sense of responsibility to the art and to my audience. It is overwhelming and exciting, because I cannot imagine being in service of a greater cause. I am also very proud to have such a multigenerational audience.
- In concert you sometimes play the piano, sometimes the accordion. Where did you study instrumental music?
The piano I studied with my teacher back in California where I grew up, and I am self-taught on accordion.
- Could you tell us about your teachers? Did anyone teach you to sing?
My greatest teacher in music was my piano teacher Nora Ayzman, who is from Odessa.
I have small hands and had been told by a lot of teachers that I could not play at a high level. Nora not only taught me technique, but she turned me into a musician and an artist. I learned what it means to hone your craft and to express your soul. I think I would literally be a different person, had I not studied with her.
I also studied Bel Canto technique for a few years, with an Italian master Nicola Verussi, and now study voice with Don Lawrence.
- What other musicians have performed with you?
Later I moved to New York to perform with world class musicians, and was really lucky to do just that. I had the honor to collaborate with people like Klezmer giant Frank London and to perform at Lincoln Center with a fabulous jazz band, the Hot Sardines. My main musical “partner in crime” is Gabriel Lit, a phenomenal clarinetist. The first time we played together, it was clear to both of us that we were on the same musical wavelength.
- With Edith Piaff, it was Louis who chose a stage name for her to reflect the image of a tiny woman with a huge voice. What is the story behind your own stage name and do you know exactly what it means?
I am the child of Jews who emigrated from Russia and I grew up speaking Russian. I do know what it means in Russian and if you flip the words around, it means something else! Names are complicated and their meanings unfold over time, so I will refrain from going too deeply into it [Smiling]
- I know that you are in graduate school. What are your plans?
My plans are to graduate this May and to attack my music career with Type A vehemence. I plan to be singing into my 90’s, and along the way I would like to grow as an artist and person. I want to work very hard and offer the world extraordinary music and performances.
- Do your fellow students and professors know that they are sitting in the same classroom with a star singer? Do they ever ask you for autographs?
[Laughter] There are a lot of people in my program at school, but the ones whom I know are definitely aware of my music career. They come to my shows. Never been asked for an autograph yet!
- Have you recorded any albums?
I’ve recorded on soundtracks and have some tracks available on my website. I am currently making plans for my next recording project.
- Besides your fans, who are very familiar with your style and manner, we hope that on March 7th. a lot of others will come to the Triad to hear you for the first time. What would you like to say to them?
Welcome! I look forward to our journey together.
- You probably realize what a difficult life awaits an emerging singer, how much hard work, dedication and even sacrifice is invested in every success on stage. Are you willing to accept that challenge? Would you accept this destiny, should today's Louis Leplee discover you?
I have already accepted that challenge! I haven’t met my Leplee, but I’m sure that I will, or today’s equivalent. The road ahead is not an easy one, but I have spent my life working hard and beating the odds, so I see no reason why I shouldn’t do it again. I have been lucky enough to be educated and have a lot of other paths open to me, and the path of least resistance is not the one that feels true to me. I have always known that I was meant to be in music. Denying that is like denying that I have a right hand. At least in my case, it’s impossible.
- Many thanks for this interview, Mira, best of luck with your singing career, and could we please take a picture together? And may I ask that you sign it for my children?
Of course! I would be glad to.
- Thank you again, Mira.
You never know, after all: within the next couple of years this young talent could easily become the new iconic figure and the official voice of New York, especially since she already has every characteristic of a future singing legend. So why take chances?
Whether laughing, crying or something in between, her loyal fan base knows that with Mira Stroika, they can expect an unforgettable night of entertainment. In the meantime, the tickets to the March 7th. show at the NYC Triad are selling fast.
Elena Kogan, New York
To purchase tickets, go to TRIAD website: