Nightlife

"There is breathing, eating, sleeping and music..."

Singer Malyssa BellaRosa keeps the torch burning for the local music scene

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Malyssa BellaRosa jokes that she has friends who marvel at the amount of energy she has. “I’ve always held down a full-time day job in conjunction with being a performing musician,” she says. “I know performers who will play in a wedding band to survive financially and then have their original project to survive spiritually, so to speak. I also know musicians who will teach music or work at a venue.”

It’s BellaRosa’s great passion for music and self-expression that fuels her fire. “Writing songs has always been a way for me to cope with everything around me. It’s very spiritual, very natural. It’s like there is breathing, eating, sleeping and music. It’s a way to socialize, a way to communicate and a way to connect,” she states. “I’m not being true to myself when I’m not writing or performing.”

She began her music career by playing the organ and singing in the elementary school chorus. As a teen, she started writing lyrics and singing with a guitarist. “I started to play harmonica and guitar, which was a real turning point for me,” she explains. “I was encouraged by many seasoned musicians who I befriended through my older sister, Lori, who is also a singer. Their feedback really motivated me.”

Once she had a dozen good songs to work with, BellaRosa grabbed her guitar and started a band called Stellar Myst (S&M). She had no trouble booking herself since. As an avid music lover, she constantly attended shows and had gotten to know the staff. “My band played monthly at the old Living Room, starting with Tuesday nights and eventually graduating to the coveted Friday night slot. Compensation was a portion of the door proceeds, which is standard in many venues even today.”

S&M’s most memorable show took place at the former Club Babyhead. “Our drummer got completely soaked by the bathroom right above the stage that was in a club called Jerky’s at the time. He just kept wailing through the songs, not knowing what had leaked on him!” Clearly to make it as a musician, you’ve got to be able to roll with the punches. These days BellaRosa performs with her current band, Malyssa & the Liberators. “The Providence music scene is extremely vibrant,” she says. “I can’t recall a time that there was such a high caliber of talent here.”

BellaRosa feels that our societal need for constant technological connectivity has led to a disconnect in true social interaction, which changes the way a performer has to think about engaging the audience. “I look around a restaurant and see people sitting across from each other on their phones,” she says. “[As a musician] you need to really stand out and grab attention these days.”

For BellaRosa, music and life are one in the same. “I’m always singing. I write my best lyrics when I’m in the grocery store. I’ll whip out my iPhone in aisle five and recite a poetic phrase I thought of while searching for Basmati rice. Sometimes people stare but I don’t care.”

It’s that relentless drive and strong sense of self that is the central theme that connects all those who successfully make a living in the Providence nightlife industry. The thread that ties this musician to the bar owner, promoter, nightclub owner, DJ and countless others who make their living in "the other 9-5" is that of tenacity. The magic formula for career longevity is simply this: Do what you love, love what you do and keep moving forward.

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