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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

From page to performance: Suffolk’s Manuela Maria rocks on

Gary Gellman
Manuela promoting her new music.

Musical magic begins for Suffolk University’s Manuela Maria as inspiration hits, transforming journal entries into songs heard around the globe.

Music is intertwined in the sophomore accounting student’s life, from performing around Boston with Suffolk’s rock band, The Common, tackling covers of songs from various genres, to creating original music from writing to production.

“If I’m ever going through something, no matter what it is, [music is] kind of my escape. I would just sit down and find my own space and write journal entries and then right next to it I’ll write a song and everything kind of just comes natural like that,” said Maria, who uses Manu as a stage name, inspired by a nickname given by her family.

As a child, singing in church choirs, Maria was hesitant to sing in front of other people, even her parents. All that changed in an instant with a video submission to The Voice Kids.

“It went from zero to 100. I was 10, and I found a sign-up for The Voice Kids on my mom’s Facebook. All of a sudden my parents get a call and they’re like, ‘We’d like you to come to Florida and everything and do this’. We figured out it was real, we sat down and had a whole talk. That’s my earliest memory of music,” Maria said.

Over the course of three seasons of The Voice — one at age 10, the next at age 13 and the final at age 18 — Maria learned skills and tricks of the trade.

“It taught me what I know now and I’m very thankful for that. When I was 10 they were throwing me into interviews and everything and it was crazy, but it definitely helped a lot and then it prepared me for not even just music stuff, but life stuff,” said Maria.

These skills have transferred to Maria’s life nearly a decade later. Since her first performance on The Voice stage at Universal Studios, Maria has released six singles, performed on countless stages and has a sharpened passion and dream for her future.

After song ideas flourish from Maria’s notebook or from a riff played with her dad or friends, collaboration begins with producer Pedro Vengoechea.

“Producing music with Manuela is a true partnership built on trust and creativity. Manuela comes to the table with her fresh ideas, powerful lyrics and a clear artistic vision. As a producer, my role is to help bring those ideas to life, refine the sound and to give the technical expertise required to create a professional track,” said Vengoechea.

Maria took on uncharted territory this past summer with one of her recent singles, “Ilusa,” as she took on writing, producing and releasing her first single in Spanish, her first language. Throughout this process, Maria had to navigate balancing both English and Spanish music trends and lyrics, a process she described as “experimental,” ending in a final product that both she and Vengoechea are proud of.

“She works super hard and never quits, no matter how tough things get. She’s always up for trying out new musical stuff, and she’s just herself, which makes her stand out big time. She speaks both English and Spanish perfectly, and she can blend American and Latin styles in her music like it’s no big deal, thanks to her connection with both cultures,” said Vengoechea.

At Suffolk, Maria has seized the opportunity of performing alongside other musicians as a singer of The Common. Maria has already made an impact on the university’s rock band through both her musical ability and constant support and positivity for her bandmates.

“I [finished singing] one rehearsal and she looks at me with the most genuine smile and was like, ‘Carson, that was incredible.’ It just made me feel so good. You could tell it was genuine just by the fact that she didn’t have to say that,” said Carson Stiles, The Common’s secretary and fellow singer.

Singing with The Common has brought Maria joy and belonging at Suffolk with the opportunity to perform in different ways than she had in the past, especially during her favorite show of The Common’s last year at Ned Devine’s.

“That was the first time that I was just able to get up on stage and have fun with the band. It is such a nice community and I just love them so much,” said Maria.

Maria’s most recent release, “Over You,” brings her full circle: she wrote the song, alongside a journal entry, at age 14, a culmination of everywhere the artist has been, where she is now and the dreams she’s working every day to achieve.

“Manuela breathes music. Manuela lives music. Manuela is music,” said Vengoechea.

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About the Contributor
Maren Halpin, News Editor | she/her
Maren is a sophomore print/web journalism major with a minor in political science from Milford, Massachusetts. When she’s not in The Journal office, you can usually find Maren in Suffolk’s orientation office or at an on-campus event. In her free time, she loves to go to her favorite coffee shops, listen to Noah Kahan, Hozier and Taylor Swift on repeat, explore the city and spend time with family and friends. Maren is passionate about politics and hopes to go into political journalism in the future. 

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    Claudia DiazOct 4, 2023 at 5:56 pm

    Genial !!!