Folk-rock singer-songwriter Amanda Pascali returns with a ballad about what could have been. Written when Pascali, now 24-years-old, was a teenager, “Mihaela Mihaela,” out May 26, is a beautiful story inspired by love letters Pascali found addressed to her father, a soldier at the time, by a woman named Mihaela. “When I was 17, I took a trip alone with my father to his home country. It was there, in Romania, thirty years prior, that he was thrown into a forced labor camp and kicked out of the country for rebelling against the government,” she explains. After visiting her father’s childhood apartment in the capital city of Bucharest and finding the stack of letters, Pascali began to wonder how things might have been different had her parents not immigrated to the U.S. and met there. “I became fascinated with her,” she says, “I started to think ‘who would I have become if my father never left; if Mihaela had been my mother?’”
Calvin Venus, the track’s mixing master engineer, explains that the song’s content was intentionally coupled with its instrumentation. “We took a 1990s-sounding song, orchestral strings that sound like they’re from the 1800s, a 1970s-sounding bass track, a 1980s-inspired drum track and put it all together in one song,” he says. Everything working in symbiosis to add to the depth of Pascali’s storytelling, “Mihaela Mihaela” serves as a mystifying coming-of-age track. “I got the idea to write ‘Mihaela Mihaela’ when I was standing in front of a foggy mirror in the bathroom of my grandma’s apartment after I had taken a shower at 17-years-old, wondering ‘who is that girl in the mirror? And who would she be if my parents would have never come to the U.S.’” She asks questions that can never be answered, but through them, she is inherently working to capture the essence of her own identity better. “Mihaela Mihaela” surprises listeners with a twist in the bridge, in which she ramps up the track from gentle pondering to fervent passion. Quoting the words written in the letters, Pascali sings “tu sei quello del mio cuore” meaning “you are the one I love.” In this way, Pascali brings Mihaela in as a voice to the narrative, adding to the truth of what almost was. “Mihaela Mihaela” is part of Pascali’s Messenger EP set to release this summer.
From a young age, Amanda Pascali felt that she was “born to be a messenger.” Finding her storytelling medium at the age of 12 with her first guitar, Pascali began on her lifelong journey to share powerful stories with anybody willing to listen. Growing up with two immigrant parents, Pascali explains that “it is because of revolt and rebellion that [she is] alive.” Her father, a Romanian with Sicilian heritage, was granted asylum in 1986 after speaking out against the dictatorship and being forced to work in a labor camp. After moving to New York, he met Pascali’s mother, an Egyptian immigrant by way of France. Through her background, Pascali has learned to appreciate the diverse stories which make up the fabric of our lives and has set her purpose on highlighting them through her music. “When I was old enough to understand the sacrifices my parents had made for me and when I saw the effect I had on people while performing, I immediately realized not only my purpose but my platform,” she says.
Despite being so young, the 24-year-old has already released award-winning music and captivated the ears of fans everywhere by touring the world all while also garnering praise from Texas’ largest newspaper where she was voted “Best Musician of 2021.” Utilizing her music to create actionable change in the city she’s based in, Houston, Pascali was awarded a grant by the mayor in 2020 to develop an asynchronous ESL curriculum designed to teach English through music to immigrants whose ESL classes transitioned online as a result of COVID-19. Today, she is an “Artist in Residence” at Sawyer Yards Winter Street Studios and is working on a storytelling project called “The Other Side; bringing to light the stories of immigrants in Houston.” This Spring she plans to produce and curate six weeks of events to “highlight artists from Houston’s immigrant community,” as well as document stories of immigrants in her community through film, photography, and writing. In this way, Pascali’s overarching purpose as a messenger admirably informs everything she does.
Naming her sound “Immigrant American Folk,” Pascali explains that the genre represents America for its “mixed-up melting pot of flavors from everywhere.” Blending Latin, Balkan, and Mediterranean influences with American folk music, Pascali hopes to create a retro feel while also touching on relevant topics of importance today. “Had I not decided to pick up a guitar, set music to my family’s story, and build a platform upon which to tell that story as I grew older, it may have been forgotten,” she explains. “My mission is to use music to create a space for anyone who has felt as if they didn’t ‘belong.’ My art aims to unite a powerful community of people from all backgrounds by promoting togetherness and empathy through music.”