She’s only in her twenties, but jazz singer-songwriter Mia Borders has already released several albums, feted at major music festivals, been nominated for awards, and lauded as a bright new star. Somehow the New Orleans native managed to sneak in the time to get a college degree along the way. Despite her successes, she’s still connected to her fans through social media and this summer accepted an online challenge to write a song every week for fifteen weeks straight.
Her hectic writing schedule won’t stop her from touring as she’ll make her debut at The Kennedy Center as part of the Millennium Stage’s Happy Hour Series on August 15. She explained to Arts Post her approach to songwriting and performing, and how they are different for her as an artist.
“They’re both pretty satisfying for me since they both involve very organic creating. It’s kind of a secret, but I’m a very shy person, so I’d say that writing has a very slight edge because it gives me time to myself. It’s very rewarding to see a simple word, phrase, melody, or groove turn into a song that will hopefully speak to someone out there. I’m a nerdy introvert... I love performing so much, though. It’s kind of like going on a road trip with these great guys and we have a map and we know where we’re going and what stops we need to hit on the way, but we’re taking all sorts of crazy detours.”
“Each song is different, from conception to composition. Sometimes I’ll hear a melody in my head and without any lyrics at all, I’ll record a complete song. Then I just listen to it over and over again until the lyrics come. Other times, I’ll just start singing to myself out of nowhere, and then I’ll write those lyrics down and figure out what chords fit underneath. I’ve noticed that since I graduated with my literature degree, more and more songs start with just a word or a phrase that I want incorporated, then I just build the song around that. I think the different ways that songs come to me help to keep it interesting for me personally. I’d get bored if I followed the same formula every time. I get bored easily.”
“I write to externalize my internal feelings that I get from experiences. My music is very personal. Almost every song is based on something or someone in my life. Most of my love songs are actually about the same person, which is probably unhealthy... Recently, I’ve been pushing myself to branch out and try to write about more than love, so I’ve been getting more songs about New Orleans, having a good time, the current political atmosphere, and other things that are important to me. When it comes to listening to other people’s music, though, I find that songs about personal relationships resonate most with me, so that’s probably why I wind up with mostly songs about love. I’m a hopeless romantic.”