By Joy Ramirez
MOI: Music To Feed The Soul
Born in Southern California to missionary parents from Mexico, Moisés “Moi” Navarro is aware that his parents’ journey is not the usual trajectory for immigrants. Growing up in a bicultural and bilingual household, he remembers the radio always being tuned to a Latin station and music being a big part of his childhood.
The singer/songwriter, fresh from competing with L.A.-based a cappella group Kinfolk 9 on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” is forging his own path to a career in music and, like his parents before him, doing it in an unexpected way. “I hate genres,” he says, noting at the same time that his music is usually categorized as indie rock or pop. Citing influences as varied as the Beatles, Maná, Sting and Café Tacuba, Moi wisely decided early on not to put his style into a pre-determined box.
Competing on the hit TV show in front of millions of people, he says, “was an amazing feeling.” But he also noted that a cappella is hard work: “Singing together with 8 other voices is the hardest thing I’ve had to do,” explains the singer, whose voice can reach heights most people can only dream of. After the group’s elimination from the show he wrote on the NBC website: “When (a cappella) works and it all comes together, it’s magical. And we found that feeling! It feeds your soul like not (many) other things in life do.”
Since appearing on the show, things have started to pick up for Moi, who performs solo and with his self-titled band. He continues to make appearances with Kinfolk 9 whenever possible, while at the same time garnering a following as a solo artist. He was recently named by LA’s Examiner.com as “one of twenty to watch in 2012,” and last year he released his EP Reveal, his first full-length album to follow soon. He kicked off a nationwide tour of 300 colleges in February.
In his “spare” time, the industrious songwriter works for Disney English, writing songs as part of a curriculum to help children in China learn to speak English. Asked how the chance to work on such a unique project came about, Moi tells the story of how he was on his way to the unemployment office when a call came in from a friend who had
recommended him for the job. Lucky breaks like that seem to be a pattern for Moi, who is humble about his successes. Before the chance to compete on national TV materialized, the musician had fallen on hard times and had to make some sacrifices, like moving his family into a friend’s garage in order to pursue his dreams. But instead of letting that experience defeat him, the obstacle seems to have improved his songwriting and strengthened his resolve to succeed.
“When you’re able to put yourself in a place where you’re vulnerable, you can see that maybe you’re not the only one and other people are touched by it,” he says. Putting himself - and his struggles - out there for the world to see is part of the songwriting process, he adds. It’s fair to say that whether or not life keeps presenting challenges to the talented artist, his future will be nothing but bright.