Frederick, Maryland-based artist Mia Celeste has a voice that will stop you in your tracks. Drawing from her Latino roots, classical, and jazz, the 17-year-old pianist, singer-songwriter, and producer creates an enchanting world with her music that rises effortlessly above the surrounding landscape.
Read to learn more about Mia Celeste’s early influences, including the role of her father Jaime Paredes, an established poet, her vision for the future of women in music, and the most important message that she wants audiences to take away from her new EP, The Songs That I Wrote Just For You.
Mia Celeste began playing piano at age 5, and her earliest memories of music are intertwined with her supportive family.
Describing the piano as her “forte instrument,” Celeste explained, “One of my most memorable memories is having my dad sitting down next to me and teaching me the very first few notes and measures of sheet music. And so, I guess I consider my dad as my very first piano teacher before getting enrolled into official piano lessons, and that just really captivated me and really motivated me to pursue my music furthermore.”
“We started off like super, super generic and easy like ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,’ ‘Happy Birthday,’” she laughed. “And once I got more comfortable and started enrolling into music lessons, I started getting comfortable to playing more classical music like Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach.”
“I also remember that my dad always included traditional Spanish boleros (romantic ballads) in his piano, guitar, and vocal lessons. For example, one of my first memories of me singing was with the classic ‘Bésame Mucho,’ the song by Consuelo Velázquez, Mexican concert pianist and composer.”
Given Mia Celeste’s otherworldly, one-of-a-kind sound, it comes as no surprise that she draws from diverse influences. Primarily, she takes inspiration from “more contemporary, more jazzy” styles, as well as her Latino roots and heritage.
Her current playlist includes indie gems such as Cuco, a Mexican American artist from California, and Clairo, an “amazing” alternative artist. “I also have a little bit of an old soul to the oldies but goodies music – like my father introduced me to Leonard Cohen,” she added.
When asked what attracts her to a particular artist, Celeste shared that she goes beyond the art and considers the whole person.
“I think my personal favorite artists, what they contain is a sense of authenticity, not only to their music, but also to themselves as well,” said Celeste. “And the way they explore different elements of music and convey that into their own music really, really captivates me and inspires me to also look around me and explore different types of music genres – as well as getting comfortable with my own style and just mixing all that and conveying my own establishment of style of music.”
On Jan. 12, Mia Celeste released her latest EP, The Songs That I Wrote Just For You, a 5-track masterpiece that evokes nostalgia, wonder, and mystery. Taking a listen to the album feels akin to revisiting a musical era in all of its grandeur.
Celeste started composing “Daniel,” one of the EP’s lead singles, a little over 2 years ago.
“I was being captivated and engrained into the music from the 50’s, and because of that, I’ve gotten some takeaways of that lovey-dovey type of style that the music from the 50’s convey, and not only from the musical aspect of that certain era, but as well as its lyricism, as ‘Daniel’ conveys a very personal and very – you know, that lovey-dovey type of style.”
Such a stunning, sentimental composition naturally begs the question: who is Daniel? A person? A representation of multiple people? A persona?
“To take a deep dive into the lyrics and its deeper meaning, yes, I did get inspired by – it’s an actual person,” Celeste shared.
“At that time, I was reminiscing of my past and, specifically, my earlier years of education. And yeah, I brought up to that that specific person, and I started writing about all the things that I felt for and about this person. And I just convey a lot of my feelings and emotions. Not only what I felt at that time, but just conveying that feeling of that love and intimate moment of what I felt.”
Daniel, I’m here thinking of you again
The times when we were once friends
The things you made me feel
When times felt unreal
It was lovely while it lasted
Mia Celeste is proud to have her father, Jaime Paredes, an established poet and songwriter, serve as her manager. Listening to the lyrical phrasing in Celeste’s own music (e.g., “plinth of your ascendency”) suggests that her father’s art form has made an impression on her own work.
“I’ve taken admiration of his wondrous body of work, of his many different albums, CDs, and his poetry books,” shared Celeste lovingly. “And taking the time to really sit down with him and co-write with all of these original songs, I take in admiration into his own style of lyricism. And it’s just, it’s very mind-boggling for me of how his line of work really, really conveys in his own style.”
“And not only in the musical aspect, but as well as him just as a father and a friend,” she added. “You know, when we have these longing conversations about life in many different topics, and sometimes it can go into a more philosophical type of aspect. I still take the precious time of listening to his words – his words of wisdom and his persona of him as a poet. It has really captivated me and really inherited of my own style and just taking in his words and also experimenting with my own style.”
Mia Celeste’s process of composing and recording her latest EP, The Songs That I Wrote Just For You, differs from her debut project, and she considers the collection her best work yet.
“This EP has been such a wondrous experience of exploring different sounds when it comes to not only as being a music producer, but as well as songwriting and writing my own lyrics, and the way it differs from my previous debut album is not only with its different instrumentations, but as well as connectivity and collaboration,” she explained.
“For my first debut album, I actually went out there with my father and met other music producers around in the DMV area. And we explored different genres with them. And that really conveys into my debut album, and with my EP, I’ve produced everything in here, in my home studio, as I’m getting more comfortable with my own style and how intimate and more personal this EP is.”
When asked to recommend two songs from her EP that are not to be missed, Celeste notes that “Daniel” automatically makes the list.
“Ever since the single was released, I’ve been getting so many comments from my peers around me, like, ‘Who’s Daniel? Wait. What’s this?’ And it’s just been crazy.”
“I think ‘Daniel’ is more personal and intimate when it comes to the EP, but I think the most captivating song that kind of captivates its lyricism and musical arrangement as a whole is ‘Been There Done That,’” she added.
“I am actually proud of conveying the love and loss emotions into this song, ‘Been There Done That,’ not only on its lyrics, but, you know, it’s more mellow and somewhat bittersweet and sorrowful musical arrangement as a whole.”
Mia Celeste’s music explores the pairing of joy and pain, love and loss, and beauty and ashes with a depth that exceeds her years. The Songs That I Wrote Just For You reminds listeners of the seasons in our lives and how contrasting emotions often exist in tandem as part of the experience of being human.
The most important message that Mia Celeste wants audiences to gain from her EP is similarly ubiquitous.
“I think above all for this EP is love,” said Celeste. “I am conveying that really love is universal and I explore the different perceptions and elements of love through this EP. And that also aligns with the acknowledgment and importance of connectivity. Because of these different aspects of love, people get to connect through many different angles.”
When she graduates from the Academy for the Fine Arts at her high school in Frederick County later this year, Mia Celeste has big plans.
“I’m looking forward to graduating high school and attending college right after,” she shared. “And I’m more than ecstatic to get that college experience. As I continue my education, I am also going to continue to pursue my passion of music as I continue to write and produce – and not only as a music producer and lyricist, but as well as a performer.”
Celeste values her role as a music producer, realizing that she is expanding pathways for her peers and the generation to follow.
“It’s very empowering for women to become more independent and more authentic with themselves and getting to show their own lines of work and their artistry to the whole world,” said Celeste. “And I’m really looking forward to meeting and seeing other people who understand it and acknowledge that sense of showing their true selves and showing their artistry to the world.”
Mia Celeste’s advice to women and other aspiring artists is both timely and timeless.
“Stay true to yourself, stay authentic, and don’t be afraid. Go out there and just publish, publish your own work, and keep on dreaming. Sometimes that’s the very first step to already becoming an aspiring artist, you know, just dream. Pursue your own passions and work hard and yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
Be sure to follow Mia Celeste for the latest news, including details on her anticipated summer 2024 live shows.
Cynthia Gross is a freelance writer and award-winning spiritual pop artist based in Maryland. With more than a decade of experience as an executive ghostwriter, she understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.
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