Alisha Zalkin’s musical quilt is patched by her Jewish and Mexican heritage, which are sewn together through the commonthread of music. The Mexican side of her family showed her at an early age the sacred power of music, setting aside background chatter and side conversation to pay homage to Ave Maria whenever it played at family gatherings. Already learning the unifying power of music, Zalkin carried this with her, authentically exuding it in her debut album March to a Different Beat.
To no surprise, Zalkin has always gravitated towards breathtaking female powerhouses like Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Carole King, and Gloria Estefan. Also evident is the message of Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, as her words spread positivity while acknowledging the weight of life’s struggles.
You’ve got quite a soulful and powerful voice. Did you have any formal training, or have always been singing?
Yes! I’ve been studying voice since I was 8 years old.
March to a Different Beat seems to embody your own life-story coming from two completely different backgrounds. How have your Mexican and Jewish heritages influenced your music and message?
I feel extremely fortunate to have grown up with two completely different cultures, both so rich in history. Music was very much a part of the Mexican and Jewish sides of my family. My Jewish grandmother was an opera singer and put on many benefit shows for Hadassah (A woman’s Zionist movement) in Yiddish, and my Mexican grandmother constantly had mariachi music playing in the house. She and her sisters would always sing along, and anytime Ave Maria would play, they would all close their eyes and bow their heads. Music was very sacred to both sides of my family. As someone of mixed cultures, music was the common thread and was what made me complete. It helped me understand that music is the one language that we all have in common, and it is through music that we can create peace in the world.
Your web-site states that the two Bobs (Dylan and Marley) come out through your music. I’m not sure if Springsteen is an influence, but I do see a connection in the way you both are able to tackle the struggles of every day life while also making the listener see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
I like to say I am in the business of inspiring others to find courage and inner peace. Music is just the tool I’ve been given to express that. Who I am as an artist and what I’m committed to is empowering my listeners so that they can find light within themselves no matter what the circumstance is.
In the past few years, there’s been a resurgence of powerful women songwriters who are now finding their own voice. How do you feel that you fit into that?
I feel like I fit in perfectly! I am certainly someone who marches to a different beat, and I have so much to share and give to the world. It is a very exciting time for powerful women songwriters!
When did you first decide that performing and writing songs was a career that you wanted to pursue?
I was always very involved in musical theater when I was younger. Once I hit high school and was seeking an outlet where I could express myself authentically, I knew I was going to pursue this is as a career.