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From Pennies to Video Games: New England’s newest rapper, MIRAYA

This summer, Miraya Shah, aka @mirayavibes, a 10 year-old rapper, had her stage debut alongside Chachi Carvalho. Diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 7, she had been writing stories and songs for a while, and when it came time to choose what she wanted to do after treatment ended, she chose a creative endeavor.

On her website, she writes, “I had written some songs in the past but I hadn’t really taken them anywhere. Make-A-Wish hooked us up with a famous hip-hop artist, Chachi Carvalho and his buddy, Edgar Cruz (Vertygo), who is a world class musician. They are both super nice and super talented artists. They helped me bring my song to life.”

Thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Pawtucket’s own Beatbox Studio (@beatboxstudio401) and Providence-based HAUS studio, her dream of recording a song and making a music video came true, and became a way to celebrate being in remission. She and her father chatted with me on a regular ol’ Monday after school…

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Mayté: How did the song “Video Games” come about?

Miraya Shah: I play video games, like Roblox and V-bucks,  and I was just singing in the shower…

Sidd Shah: We found out later that she had actually written other songs too.

M: Oh that’s great, and what were those songs about?

MS: Um, there’s this one other song I wrote called “Pennies”. And it’s basically about me building up money. From a penny.

M: Are they all rap songs? Is that your style of choice?

MS: Because my video game song turned out to be rap… It [kind of] just happened. I figured I’d make all my other ones rap instead of just going all over the place.

M: Do you have a favorite rap artist?

MS: Um, the Kid LAROI. I don’t know if he’s a rapper though. He might be something like hip hop.

M: In doing some research on Instagram I noticed that you went to see Maroon Five at Fenway?

MS: Yeah, yesterday.

SS: It was her first show. And you saw Blackbear [too]… That was kind of hip hop. It was the first concert for her, so it was nice.

M: It was your first concert ever!? What did you think?

MS: Mhm, it was… It was a lot of fun!

M: Was it more or less than what you were expecting?

MS: More!

M: What was more about it?

MS: How loud the music was…

M: Yeah, it is very loud, haha. So, in your website it says your family is from New Jersey?

SS: We were based in New Jersey when she was diagnosed. Me and my wife were working in New York. We lived in Jersey for 11 years. Prior to that, I was in Massachusetts. I moved from Mass to New York for work, and then we moved back three, four years [ago]. Me and my wife were born in India… and Miraya was born in New York, like her little brother.

M: How old were you when you were diagnosed with leukemia?

MS: Seven or six, well seven.

M: Being in the hospital was difficult because you couldn’t see your little brother, is that right?

MS: Yeah.

SS: I think when she was seven, he was almost five, a little less than five. It’s the time when the kids are at an age where they are kind of bonding really. She was quite sad that she couldn’t [see] him because, you know, her immunity was low.

M: So you couldn’t see each other.

S: They couldn’t see each other because of her immunity… He was going to school… [and] we don’t know what he’s bringing from school.

M: Of course, that’s so hard and at such a young age. So, in watching your music video, I assume that’s your little brother in the video with you?  

MS:. Yeah. Ayaan.

M: How did you decide what was going to be in the video? How did that happen?

MS: Um, so, the people who recorded the video, they basically just told me the plan and the idea along with that. They had the idea, and I added a little bit (i.e., her own dance moves).

SS: Yeah, that’s the way it worked out. Make-a-Wish got us in touch with Chachi first. We had some video calls with him. And we started the discussion. Miraya gave her song idea, what she had thought of and the tune she had. We had Chachi hear it. And then he was kind of coaching her in terms of where to put the hook or where to change the verses and what to do. And then Make-a-Wish connected us with Providence-based company, HAUS. They had never done music videos, but they’ve done a lot of photography and stuff… So myself and my wife, we were brainstorming with them in terms of what to do in the video and [how to]… match with the wording she had. But we couldn’t say some of the [names of the video games]. We wanted to stay away from any copyrighted stuff, right? So we couldn’t say either Roblox or we couldn’t use Fortnight, which were actually part of what she had in her song.

M: Oh I see, the names of the videos themselves.

SS Yeah, the video games. Roblox was actually at that point going through its IPO (initial public offering). We didn’t want to get into any issues, because there’s so many players. You have the foundation, HAUS and [Beatbox]. So we were thinking what to do, and we were like, we’ll just play with what Miraya wants to do. Just let her have fun. We’ll just take a few plots. We took one in their studio, one at the house, and one of the persons from Make-a- Wish (a volunteer) apparently had a videogame parlor in his basement. He [had] this collection of old video game machines, you know… They recorded the song there and it came out well, so we kind of combined one part that you see–where she’s sitting on the couch in our place, you know, and one in the studio with the lights, and then the other one was in the basement for the video games.

M: And so were the names of the actual video games changed in the song?

SS: Those are the words of the lyrics, so in fact, the song name she had earlier was Roblox and V-bucks (in-game currency).  Basically, the song is about- [the] Roblox and Fortnight video game[s], and they have the money that they use in those games. Robux is the money used in Roblox and V-bucks is the money used in fortnight, you know, the virtual currency.

M: Ohhhhhh, ok! (I suddenly understood it all, I’m clearly not a gamer ).

SS: The song is about the money and video games. She has money to play these games. So she had [the currency] as the name [before] but then we changed to the name “Video Games” because we didn’t want… those copyright issues.

M: Miraya, I watched the video of your first performance with Chachi (available in her Instagram profile) and then I watched the music video, and I noticed there’s a part in the song where it slows down a little bit. I think you say something like, “I don’t want you to think that I’m just getting this easy… I’m getting this because of my hard work” or something like that. Where did that lyric come from? How did you write this stuff?

MS: It also just [happened] overtime. I just wrote it because of things I saw. The song didn’t just happen in one go, it took a lot of time to write. So I guess that was just part of the song that just came to my head and thoughts.

M: Watching you perform with Chachi, I didn’t realize that was your first ever stage performance. I heard from people that were at the event that you were great! So how was it? How was it being on stage?

MS: It was fun, but it was also kind of… I was also kind of nervous.

M: Yeah, what were you nervous about?

MS: Like what other people think of the performance, all the eyes watching… cause there’s a bunch just looking at you and nothing else.

M: Exactly! That’s the thing about being a performer, you’re the person in the center of the stage, literally. How was it to have Chachi do it with you, though?

MS: Yeah, it was helpful.

M: And what happened once you finished the song? How did the people react?

MS: They all just cheered at once.

M: Do you remember how that felt?

MS: Yeah, it felt really good.

M: And do you wanna do it again?

MS: Yeah.

M: Yeah, it’s fun when you get to do it more and more. What’s the next thing that you’d like to do in terms of music?

MS: Um, I want to keep writing songs. And I want to keep publishing.

M: Very cool. And are you gonna write new songs or are you going to use any of the old songs that you have already?

MS: I’m going to write new ones.

SS: [And] the old one, her second song “Pennies”, which she also sung partially on that (performance) day, we’re gonna publish that one. It’s recorded, again, with Beatbox Studio with Chachi and Edgar Cruz (Vertygo)… It’s ready so it’s just about [taking the time] to publish it. We’re going to try to see if we need to make the video for it or not, or just publish it as a song. I want to at least get the song out so you can get it.

M: And so, dad- you manage her Instagram account and website?

SS: Yeah I’m doing that. Depending on how she does and how far she takes this, we’ll see if we can actually have it professionally managed. Right now, we’ll see how it goes. I mean she’ll keep studying and all, but if she keeps writing and she does more, and she makes some good stuff, then maybe it’s worth getting her the help. I believe it’s a lot about promotion. Promoting a song is the hardest part. And for a young singer, it’s harder.

M: Yeah, I can tell you that seasoned performers will say that the easy part is recording. The hard part is once you’ve recorded everything… Then what do you do?

SS: I did what I could—publish it in different places and stuff. But, there’s only so much you can do, as individuals. I mean, I don’t have any connections to the music industry. So that’s one thing… we’ll discover.

M: Miraya, so in school are you taking any kind of music lessons?

MS: Um, no. I’m just doing band, it’s going to start soon. I’m gonna do the trombone.

M: That’s so cool! Why the trombone?

MS: Because when they were showing how it worked, um, one of the people who knew how to play it knew how to do this racecar kind of sound. So I want to learn that.

SS: What about your guitar?

MS: Yeah. And I play the guitar. I [learned] when I was nine.

SS: Yeah, during the pandemic she was like, I want to start learning the guitar. So we started giving her a coach. I think the coach is in Texas, and she gets the virtual training. She’s so far doing well. She understands the music. And she’s gonna continue. That’s one thing which she’s happy about. Because of this I think her brother’s also starting to like music, so he also plays the piano. So [I’ve said] you know, get inspired by Billie Eilish and her brother.

M: Yeah, totally. So Mariah, what is it about music that you love?

MS: I like that there’s a bunch of different varieties. And there’s so many things that could be about. It could be like a sad song or a fun song. There, there’s so many different types of music to go with words.

M: Yeah, to go with words and how you feel.

MS: Yeah, mhm.

M: Last question, the first stage performance happened at what event?

SS: Chachi had an hour-long workshop where he was trying to just educate kids… everyone about music. And he was emphasizing this, these words that he used. And what it is about being an MC, and how you could have etiquette, musicianship, you know, contact, energy. Those words. He broke it up and he was explaining the kids… Then after that workshop he had, he was basically performing. So, Miraya had the opportunity to kind of perform during the initial part when there was workshop and also… after.

M: How was it for you watching her perform?

SS: Amazing. I mean… we were a little nervous, like how is she going to do? You know? And it was more, how would she think about it? Not how others would think about it. But I think she did very well. The comments I got from others [were] that she did good.  At this age, doing it and performing and having people look at you that way. I’d have stage fear. I have stage fear for my work presentations… And I think it’s great- because at this early age, if she’s getting this exposure, whether she goes into music or she goes somewhere else, it’s going to help. That’s what we’re happy about- an opportunity. If she gets more opportunities like this that’d be wonderful. It [would] help her grow…  

If you’d like to follow Miraya as she navigates music and performance, go to @mirayavibes on Instagram and check out her website at www.mirayavibes.com  Wanna book her for a show? Fill out the contact page on her website!

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