Posted On 26 Mar 2018
Ali McManus is a dynamic 21-year-old singer-songwriter / pianist / guitarist and inspirational speaker. Confined to a wheelchair since the age of 7 due to a rare bone disorder, Ali’s exceptional musical talent has served as a healing source not only for herself but others. Ali was named “Youth Ambassador” for several charities, and also earned the title “Patient Ambassador” during her time at Shriner’s Hospital, where she would deliver effervescent performances for the other patients.
Her debut album Unbreakable is an uplifting collection of songs about strength, perseverance and the human spirit.
Learn more about Ali McManus in the following All Access interview with her:
Ali, let’s talk about your debut album, Unbreakable, shall we? What does Unbreakable mean to you?
My album Unbreakable means a lot to me. The songs on it tell about the challenges I’ve had to go through in my life. The lyrics in every song were words that I had a hard time saying out loud at those hard times. It was truly an escape and freeing experience to write these songs. With this album I can show people that no matter what physical or mental state you may be in, you can get through it and follow your dreams! Also, I want to spread the message that you are Unbreakable! Never give up!
What was it like writing and constructing this collection? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? Did any emotions come up for you?
Writing these songs became my way of therapy, to get my emotions out on paper and then into music. One thing that surprised me…I was writing a song in someone else’s point of view, but then I realized it was about me all along! It showed me something that I didn’t even know that I thought of. It showed me a different side of myself.
What message do you hope this album brings to all the ears that it lands?
I want to give the message that there are going to be hard times, and you know that your heart and bones can break, but your spirit can never break. You just have to keep going and never give up! I hope that by writing what I’ve been through, I can impact the listener in a positive light and give them a new or better outlook on life!
How do you think your new single, “Unbreakable” compares to the rest of your collection?
I think my single “Unbreakable” is the perfect way to start off the album because the meaning of being unbreakable resonates with all the songs that come after it!
If you could pick one single from the album that is your personal favorite, what would it be and why?
My favorite song off my album is “Wings,” because I wrote this song at Interlochen, where I attended a singer/songwriting camp on my own. It was my first independent trip away from home. As someone in a wheelchair, I found that some people doubted that I could go to camp on my own, but I proved them wrong. This showed me that I could live independently on my own and go to college someday.
Growing up, did you ever think that this would be the kind of life that you would have? Has music always been a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
At the age of 7, I sang my first choir solo at school. After my solo, people came up to me with tears in their eyes. After I saw how much you can affect people with music, there was no turning back from there! Music has been a huge part of my life ever since, and I will never forget that moment of my first musical experience.
Overall, how do you think 2017 was for you and your career? What are you most excited about for this year? What is one big goal you have for 2018?
Overall 2017 was a great year for me, it brought many new people into my life. In fact, one of them was Jack Douglas. Jack produced John Lennon, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick and many others. Now he is my producer! Working with Jack on my album Unbreakable was the best experience of my life. He and the other musicians taught me so much! I will forever be grateful for that! This is the first launch of my career. I am so excited to see what is to come! One big goal that I would like to achieve in 2018 would be to uplift and spread my message to as many people as possible. Also, to create and write more songs for my next album!
Where do you find that you have the most fun – on stage performing, making music videos or recording in the studio?
I have the most fun while I am on stage, because I love relating with my audience. Once I get onto that stage, all of my hard work and message can be shared. I love the energy that I get onstage. The feeling of applause and standing ovations is the best feeling in the world. It’s hard to describe. Also, I have an equal amount of fun in the studio because I love working with professional musicians and producers. I learn so much every time! Recording my album “Unbreakable” was the best experience I have ever had in a studio! When I heard my first mix of “Unbreakable” I started to cry. I was shocked how a song that I wrote at home on my piano could grow to that level of greatness!
How active on are you on all of your social media platforms? How important do you think it has been to your career so far? Do you find that it’s hard to update all of them all of the time?
I am very active on my social media platforms. I try my best to update everyone as much as I can. Social media has been very important to me. It helps me connect with my fans and grow new fans and engage with them. I do find it hard sometimes to update and keep up with everyone in their own unique way.
We are living through a very trying and politically charged time right now, so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that music is going to reflect these challenging times?
Music acts as a way of escape, to forget for just a few minutes the hardships we may be facing. I’ve said that “Music is my 3 minutes of no pain.” Being a musician brings me great joy, because I can help the listener look past the challenges. Music can open people’s minds and hearts. Music can open people’s minds.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
The artists that have inspired my music the most are Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Stevie Nicks, and Adele. It would be an absolute dream to work with Ed Sheeran because his lyrics are so vivid, and they truly paint a picture into your mind. Also, the music that he writes to go with the lyrics is incredible! He is actually the person that inspired me to learn the guitar!
Is there anything else that you would like to share about yourself or your music?
Music heals, music uplifts, and music matters! Music saved my life. I’ve been in a wheelchair since I was 7 years old, and I’ve been through a lot of surgeries. But I’ve always had a positive mindset, and that saved me too. I’ve continued to follow my dreams and move forward to make them a reality. I make music to express myself and my emotions. I make music to inspire others to recognize that deep down, we are really resilient and Unbreakable.