August 31, 2017 • Anonymous
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It was at a day camp talent show in Bozrah, Connecticut where 7-year-old Raina Mullen ’15 sang Christina Aguilera's “Come on Over” for an audience of parents, counsellors, and fellow campers that she instinctively knew she wanted to be a musician. The catalyzing rush she felt that day led her to Philadelphia after graduating from Manhattanville, where she took an offer to sing and tour the country with the indie rock band American Babies.
Just this past year the band stopped in 21 cities across America during their tour, “An Epic Tour from East To West.” Their last stop on the road was at Sweetwater Music Hall, where they played with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. Although Mullen enjoys the excitement of hopping from venue to venue and playing for fans, she admits that she doesn’t get to spend much time in each destination as she’d like.
“We don’t often get to actually explore the cities that we’re playing in because we have to sound check, find dinner, prepare for the performance, and then play between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m.,” Mullen said. “The rest of the time is spent sleeping and driving the next gig.” Still, the vocalist says her favorite city to perform in is Boulder, Colorado, where the band has gained a large following in the local music scene.
Mullen was first exposed to music early in her childhood when her father, a fan of oldies hits, sang along to his favorites while driving and also played them at the classic car show he hosted at Ocean Beach Park in New London, Conn.
“I would dance around and chew bubble gum while I listened to the music and learned about vintage cars,” the singer fondly remembers. Among her influences, many of whom stemmed from the music she heard during her childhood, are Levon Helm from the Band and Joni Mitchell, who has inspired her not only in her vocal approach, but her lyrical style as well.
“I was also involved in school choir,” she stated. “I found I was happiest when I was singing with a group of people.”
The singer found the encouraging and supportive community that she needed to pursue music at Manhattanville College. The curriculum in the College’s music program also helped Mullen refine her vocal capabilities and prime her for life as a musician.
“I felt truly connected to many of my professors at Manhattanville, and I’m grateful for their genuine interest in their students’ development and their personal lives,” Mullen said.
Even after graduating the former student makes learning and practicing an integral part of her daily routine, spending time practicing and listening to music when American Babies isn’t on the road.
“Practice more than you think you should,” Mullen says as important advice to anyone looking to follow in an artistic or musical endeavor of their own. She attributes her success as a musician to the many hours she spent poring over lyrics and rehearsing her songs, and also to the inspiration she draws from her life experiences.
Mullen’s cover of “Come on Over” may have won her a glittering crown and a sash that read “Little Miss Acorn Acres” at the day camp’s competition, but life performing on the road is not the sole reason she chose this path. She also suffers from anxiety and Seasonal Affective Disorder, and copes with them through her music and channeling her energy into writing songs and performing.
“I mean, have you ever been to a concert where there are 10,000 to 20,000 people singing a song together? It's magical and I love that music is my little piece of magic in this world,” she said.
To keep up with updates about Mullen’s music visit her website and follow her on Instagram.