By Jim Newell
For Erica Mourad, music has always been a part of her life: her mother is a music teacher, Erica plays in a band with her friends and she has a budding solo career.
Unbeknownst to Erica, a trip to get over writer’s block turned into a big break and one of those fortuitous dream-come-true moments.
Erica, 17, a junior at Lake Orion High School, said she was having writer’s block and asked her mother to go to the CBS BMI Songwriter Series at Hockeytown café on Nov. 4, with the hopes of getting country singer Michael Ray to sign her guitar.
Adrian Michaels, vice-president of Warner Brothers, approached her and asked her if she was a singer-songwriter.
In that whirlwind moment, Michaels said “Let’s get you on stage. You have one song to give me your best.”
Excited, grinning, surprised, Erica took the stage and performed Tucker Beathard’s Rock On.
Afterward, Michaels had Michael Ray approach Erica and ask her to open up for him at Coyote Joe’s. She did, performing five songs during her set.
“He told her right on the spot,” said Erica’s mother, Janet. “It was the coolest thing ever.”
That opportunity renewed her confidence and now she’s playing locally in pursuit of a music career. She’s performed with her band, The Euphorics, at Dragon on the Lake this past summer and at 20 Front Street in November.
She’s also performing solo from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 8 at ABeanToGo on Front Street in downtown Lake Orion, and from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Royal Oak Antique Market.
She’s been playing about five years now, beginning in church.
“I started there and it just lead to what I’m doing now,” said Erica, who plays keyboard/piano, guitar and ukulele.
“I used to take lessons when I was really little, and it’s been on and off for a while, but just recently I began teaching myself and accompanying myself when I play,” she said.
Her mom, Janet, is a music teacher. “I teach piano and flute and she plays piano and flute,” Janet said.
“I used to sing all the time when I was little. I’m self-taught, mostly. When I play myself, I play mainly guitar and sometimes I bring my keyboard and ukulele,” Erica said.
“We didn’t know she could sing until she was about 12,” Janet said.
“Then she did a talent show at school and George Johnson (whose daughters and son play in The Euphorics with Erica) came up and said ‘Do you want to join our band?’ And that gave her confidence and then she started doing it on her own.”
Erica released her first album last year, an EP entitled Bright Lights, with five original songs.
“I always do pop and country and my originals,” Erica said. “Now my focus is more the country-style kind of feel. I used to do a lot of pop before I wrote my songs and I have an EP that is technically a pop EP, but since then I’ve grown into a more country kind of feel and I’m writing more country songs.”
“Most of my EP is inspirational,” Erica said. “It’s life stories that maybe I haven’t gone through, but I know that people have and they just come to me in a song form.”
She wrote “It’s What’s in Your Heart” when she was 12, saying it’s about “it doesn’t matter what you have it’s just what’s in your heart, how kind you are to people.”
Still Writing My Love Song was written by her friend, Cayenne Johnson, and is about how a young girl goes through a breakup and begins the next chapter of her life
“Everything song is different, I don’t really have a set genre. Most of them are inspirational songs,” said Erica, who credits Sara Bareilles and Ed Sheerhan as some of her musical inspirations.
“I don’t really have a set subject, it’s more like the song really just comes to me and it is what it is.”
While she hopes to pursue a career in music, Erica also has interests in music therapy and engineering, and she plays basketball and tennis.
And being on stage doesn’t faze her at all.
“I was really shy when I was younger but over the years I’ve just grown. When I did start doing this I was never nervous and I don’t know why because when I was younger I would hate talking in front of people at school. It just changed the minute I started music. I just enjoy myself,” she said.
“I’m always going to continue writing songs and have my YouTube channel and whatever comes of it…”
To see videos of Erica Mourad’s performances, visit her YouTube channel.
Her music is available on iTunes, GooglePlay and Spotify.
By Jim Newell