The name Mara Hruby flows off your tongue like a beautiful melody, so it’s only fitting that she chose music as her career. Starting early — singing in class and listening to music constantly at home with family – it was her natural path.
The singer, who has a wide variety of influences that range from James Brown and Joni Mitchell to Bossa Nova music, burst onto the scene with her debut 2010 EP From Her Eyes. A selection of cover versions of tracks by her favourite male vocalists including Van Hunt, Andre 3000 and Jamiroquai.
Since that time, Hruby has made a name for herself as part of The Romantic Movement along with the likes of Jesse Boykins III, Melo-X and Chris Turner. The singer has also headlined shows at the historic Yoshi’s Oakland Jazz Club, performed as part of Sartorial Sounds, as well as performed for a select group of industry professionals during Grammy Weekend.
Who is Mara Hruby?
Part of Hruby is the bright eyed, curly haired beauty that calls Oakland, California her home. Despite the area gaining a negative reputation in the media where negative aspects of protests were highlighted, many forget that Oakland is a beautiful and diverse place.
“I think everywhere you are in your life has a reason. I always say we create within our own experiences because I feel like what we see in our lifetime is what we know. I think I’ve been fortunate to have the outlook that I have because growing up in Oakland I’ve always felt there was great music.
“I never looked at music like where it came from on the planet but, more so what it communicated to people,” says Hruby. “Being from Oakland, it influenced my music a lot. I think our culture out here is really diverse. I think or weather is beautiful. I think we have wonderful food and all of those things are inspiring.”
Vintage Style x Ventures
Another part of Hruby is a vintage, style fashionista. When people look at Hruby, the first thing that they will see is her unique style. Her style is vintage to a tee and very feminine. Beautiful up-dos and funky dresses and shoes.
“Clothing and style and all that are the way we can express what we feel inside to display on the outside,” explains Hruby. “Growing up, a lot of people always told me, I had an old soul and I’ve always had an infinity for things that were vintage.”
“I collect vintage suitcases and all of my favorite movies are from the ’20s-’60s. My favorite music a lot is from that era, so I always have kind of gravitated towards the ’40s-’60s and it’s just been a part of me. I like everything about that era so, when I dress everyday it comes natural. I love wearing dresses. I love feeling feminine so it’s really just a combination of what influenced me my whole life.”
Taking her style passion further, Hruby started a handmade beaded bracelet line which she sells from marahruby.bigcartel.com as well as after all of her shows. Even legendary drummer Sheilia E is a fan of her beads ["She’s a phenomenal woman. She’s powerful"].
“I started making them two years ago, maybe it was more so a thing that I saw, You know, when you go shopping and you see things you like but they aren’t exactly what you want them to be?” says Hruby. “You go home, and you kind of recreate that and that’s basically how it came about.”
“Everything I do is from the heart, and everything I love comes from my soul” –Mara Hruby
The success of her debut EP From Her Eyes kind of spread like wildfire (it’s still spreading) and catapulted her to a level she was not expecting or worried about during the creating process. After the release, Hruby appeared on blogs all over the world.
“I was doing something that made me happy. I was doing something that made my heart content. I was doing something that felt right and that I really, really wanted to do and I adore music,” says Hruby.
Hruby turned to songs that had sentimental value to her dating back to even middle school. Another key selection factor was songs where she wouldn’t have to change any of the lyrics; Hruby believes the writer of the songs wrote the lyrics for a reason, and she didn’t want to alter any aspects of the originals.
One of the first releases of From Her Eyes was her cover of “The Panties” by Mos Def, now going by Yasiin Bey, from his sophomore solo album The New Danger.
“I really, really do love Mos Def. I think he’s so wonderful,” Hruby enthuses, as with Outkast ["they’re amazing"] plus Melo-X and Moruf. “Both of these are my Romantic Movement brothers,” she says of the latter. They’re really good lyricist and poets and speakers and thinkers and everything they’re doing right now I’m totally drawn into. I can’t wait for Moruf’s music to come out and everything that Melo-X does is just phenomenal.”
On the EP Hruby covered D’Angelo’s classic “Send It On” from his Voodoo LP, reworking the song into a beautiful cover. Hruby believes this was her hardest cover on the EP; “D’Angelo is D’Angelo. You don’t just touch his music so, it was a little intimidating just because I knew I wanted to tackle the song and I really wanted to do it in the right way.”
Prior to releasing her EP of cover versions, Hruby had already started working on her debut album; from which listeners and fans have somewhat gotten a taste of what they can expect with the original track, “Lucky I Love You.”
With no set release date thus far, Hruby has been working with guitar player Nate Mercereau (who she shares with Shelia E) on writing both music lyrics and guitar compositions for her debut album – which will explore a wide variety of topics “that everyone will be able to relate to at one point in their life or another” – and for Hruby, they are all topics that she has experienced herself.
“The whole inspiration for the project has been my life,” she says. ”I did all the songwriting. Everything I’m writing about has been a part of my life, so writing about love, writing about heartbreak. I’m writing about family and just writing about things that make your emotions go up and down.”
“I just wanted to be honest and tell stories that I’ve experienced first hand because we do create within our own experiences. That’s the only way people know what we experience is by saying it or singing it—anyway we can get it out.”