Maggie Verderame of Magareeshi: “One issue that bothers me more than most is world hunger”

One issue that bothers me more than most is world hunger. I just don’t understand how we can live on such a giving planet and have so many people go to bed at night not having eaten enough nutritious food. I’m passionate about eating nutrient rich, plant based foods and I’d be honored to someday […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

One issue that bothers me more than most is world hunger. I just don’t understand how we can live on such a giving planet and have so many people go to bed at night not having eaten enough nutritious food. I’m passionate about eating nutrient rich, plant based foods and I’d be honored to someday partner up with intelligent people making a difference, getting healthy nourishment to those in need. I actually make a line of organic loose leaf herbal tea on a very small scale as well as share my own vegetarian recipes for which I’d love to make a cookbook someday. I dream of being able to grow my natural foods-based product line and use it to support this effort!

As a part of our series about music stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Maggie Verderame.

Founder of Magareeshi Productions, Maggie Verderame teaches, writes, sings, cooks, makes and shares good things inspired by yoga to brighten your life. She is an expert in sacred self care, a yoga teacher, and the creator of the Seven Dollar Songs Project shedding light on the plight of independent musicians in the digital age while making music that does good in the world. Maggie has used yoga and music to overcome incredible physical challenges and childhood trauma, and is now considered an inspiring musical domestic goddess of holistic homeyness.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?

I have kind of funny time when I look back over my childhood because it’s such a mix of mayhem and normal. On one hand, I grew up with the joyful heritage of my Italian mother and her family. I’m quite close with my sister and have really fond memories of cooking extravagant holiday meals, baking cookies, and enjoying big family events. I did all the normal things a kid who loved theatre does like taking acting classes, singing, and performing in every play. I entered the social studies fair every year and was basically friends with everybody. On the surface my life was very normal. But I also grew up with an abusive stepfather and a drug addicted older brother. They both wreaked havoc on our lives. I’m the baby of the family, but I always felt like a grownup because I was managing so much beyond my years from about the time I was eight.

Then when I was ten I was diagnosed with scoliosis (a curvature of the spine) which required me to wear a back brace and progressed intensely enough that it caused a number of health problems and warranted surgery when I was a teenager. Due to an insurance debacle, I never got surgery. When I was nineteen, after working so hard to overcome my childhood traumas and set out on my own path, my entire life came to a halt when my back problems became unbearable. I was in constant pain and eventually I lost all the feeling on the surface of my back and experienced major mobility loss. I could no longer continue attending college or working as a singer and performer. Because of this I was introduced to the world of natural living and yoga and my life was forever changed for the better! I never got surgery and, even through it was challenging, over time I used yoga to improve my spinal alignment, thus improving my overall health immensely.

I’ve learned to be grateful for where I am now and to always look for the blessing in everything. My scoliosis gave me my biggest gift: the foundation of yoga under my whole life which helps me to be compassionate, healthy and flexible. And any of the negatives from my earlier life have led to some good songwriting! I have one song called “The Angry Family” in which the lyric goes, “…love, love, a mystery, it had to be in my family tree…because all I can see is love.”

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was six or seven years old my Catholic church brought in a gospel choir from L.A. to perform. I had never seen anything like it before and I was instantaneously hooked by the boldness of the singing. Afterward I declared that I would grow up to be like “one of those gospel singing ladies!” Later I had the chance to perform in musical theatre and I fell in love with the idea of expressing oneself through song. I began writing music when I was thirteen and did every musical I could get into. I didn’t go far professionally because of all my back issues so when I met my husband who had toured all over the world as a musician, I was fascinated! He kind of de-mystified music as a career for me and we’ve collaborated musically ever since. I unexpectedly became a yoga teacher in 2001, opening a yoga studio in 2003 and I mostly focused on that while chiming in with him musically where I could and doing small gigs or house concerts here and there. For a long time it felt like I could only be known as one thing; a yoga teacher or a singer-songwriter. I felt split. Somewhere around 2013 I heard Marie Forleo use the term “multi-passionate entrepreneur” and it was like a fog lifted. I loved owning a business. I loved music. I loved yoga. I could do all those things and I could make the world brighter while doing them as long as I found the through line. And for me, the through line is always yoga. Yoga is union. Music is unity. I wanted to entrepreneurially figure out how I could use both things to do some good in the world.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?

Now I do most of my work online, but during the years I owned a brick and mortar yoga studio in Las Vegas we used to get really creative with the space. I launched a concert series, housed artists’ work, hosted all sorts of workshops, facilitated teacher trainings, and ran daily classes. All these things forced me to constantly be reaching out to my local community and in doing so, I met every kind of person you can imagine from scientists and college professors to mystics, circus performers and professional-grade nomads. I learned a lot about meeting people where they are, managing groups and individuals professionally, and honoring the fact that everyone has a story. Yet nothing prepared me for the time one of my most dedicated yoga students stormed into my office after class demanding that I do something about the “man in the short shorts with no netting and no underwear underneath!” Having that awkward talk and countless others like it really made me wish I had instead become a rockstar with a team of people to do the managing for me.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

I think people benefit most from being patient, trusting the process, and being honest. Patient with themselves. Patient with how long things sometimes take. Trusting that you’re always growing and learning even if it seems like you’re not doing big things. Notice if you’re being inauthentic or feel like you need to seem like the smartest, most amazing person in the room. Trying to be the coolest person only makes you feel inferior to others with more experience. When you show up humbly and real, curious about what you’re going to glean, you’ll actually feel more empowered and add to the experience for everyone you’re working with.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

The very simple, three word phrase, “Be here now” is a quote that serves me every day, no matter what I’m doing. It’s so easy to get caught up in distraction, overthinking or negative mental chatter — to become really stressed about what was or what might be and lose presence of mind. When I say, “Be here now” I’m reminded of what’s right in front of me in the current moment and how grateful I am to be living this moment. I immediately connect to my truth. These words instantly calm me down and bring me back to what’s real. As a songwriter it’s really easy to judge your words harshly and stop the creative flow by editing yourself too soon based on how you imagine someone might perceive your writing. There’s a time and a place for editing, but when lyrics are first flowing, I have to let them be and capture them as they come before trying to change anything. As a singer it’s easy to get caught up in trying to determine if what you’re singing is any good. When I remind myself to “Be here now” I set myself free, allowing the song to flow naturally and that’s where the real magic and connectivity in music happens.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The person I’m most grateful for in regards to my career is my husband, Vincent Verderame. He is the first person I collaborate with musically — I make all my music with him because he is a genius composer and musical arranger who is incredibly gifted at patiently meeting people where they are, giving them space to expand and experiment comfortably in order to bring out their best. He’s so skilled and holds a degree from University of Miami’s Jazz Studies Program but is also formally schooled in classical music and has impressive roots in Latin and rock having toured the world as a gigging musician for years. He’s a drummer in Blue Man Group and drums are his main instrument, but he plays a number of other instruments which makes him a great person for me to bring a song idea to. I’ll sing what I’ve got and he’ll immediately pull out a guitar or sit down at the piano with my melody and start noodling to transform it into a thing of beauty. When it’s time to record, he always knows just who and what are going to be the right fit for each song. In addition to our musical collaborations, he is the sounding board for all my entrepreneurial ideas, holds the position of Magareeshi Tech Guru making all the online and video things in my business go, and he’s the first person to help make everything I’m trying to accomplish happen. I’m really lucky to be able to pop into my kitchen on any given day with my next crazy idea or tune and have such a pro willing to partner with me.

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

I’m so excited to be running the Seven Dollar Songs Project! This project is a unique combination of yogic philosophy and music in that its intention is to create unity and do for others. Seven Dollar Songs is bringing awareness to the general public about the shockingly low rate musicians are paid when their music is streamed as well as fundraising for charitable partners. Each season, on the solstice or equinox, we release a new original song that’s sold exclusively at 7 dollars. From each sale we take about 5 dollars to pay a more fair wage to the musicians who’ve created the song and give the remaining 2 dollars to charity. Currently, we’re raising money for Musicians Foundation a 107 year old New York based organization that supports musicians in need. We plan to support different organizations annually as we grow, helping spread the word about the good work they’re doing in the world and giving back to them as much as we can.

Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?

When we got our first check for less than 5 dollars from a prominent streaming service back in 2012 after oodles of streams of our children’s album, “1 Frog Leg” it really sunk in how much the music industry had changed and how difficult it is to make a living as a musician in the digital age. There have always been challenges, but the fact that independent musicians are essentially being forced to give their music away and use it as not much more than a marketing tool by sharing it on streaming services really is unfair. Because we recorded our kids album as a passion project for our daughter and I was busy being mom to a wee girl, plus the album wasn’t our main source of income, I kind of let the subject drop. But I never felt okay about it. My husband and I would have lots of conversations about this topic. We’d discuss it with other musicians who agreed it was a horrible circumstance that they didn’t know what else to do about, and we’d watch people’s mouths drop open when we told them about the hundredths and thousandths of a penny we’re paid per stream.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

When the pandemic hit and my husband was unexpectedly unemployed along with countless other show people, we became gravely aware of how the streaming industry would negatively impact musicians with no other means to make a living. It was time to do something about it. We started small, just reminding people that if they love entertainment they had a responsibility to support entertainers and buy music whenever possible. As time went on and more and more people were getting sick or struggling, I wanted to use music to uplift my Magareeshi Virtual Studio members. As a gift for them I wrote and recorded a song based on one of our mantras of the month, “Love Is All.” The song became such an anthem of hope during a dark time that I wanted to share it with a larger audience. One of my core values is to be as charitable as possible so from there I started connecting dots about how we could share music, increase awareness, and help out others in need.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

We’re still raising money for our first charitable partner, Musicians Foundation, but I can tell you we are over the moon-excited to be able to give them a donation when we reach the end of our term. They’ve been doing good work for musicians in need for over a century, but when Covid hit they saw a 600% increase in grant applications. We know every little bit they raise now will allow them help those who are struggling.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Yes! The simplest thing individuals can do is buy directly from independent musicians. I’m not suggesting you cancel your streaming subscription. I’m just saying that when you find music that moves you, go directly to the band’s website and see what they’re offering that you could purchase from them. Many musicians sell merchandise and even memberships online as well as their music. Purchasing anything directly from, and spreading the word about them can really make a difference. Societally, we have to change the way we view music. We need to respect the craft and all that goes into making music for our enjoyment enough to value it monetarily and educate ourselves on just how musicians are paid. And, in terms of governmental support, I’d love to see more of a push toward regulations making sure musicians are directly paid a truly fair wage. Even the biggest names in music are basically being swindled by the current state of things. Streaming companies have deals with record companies and those entities are making all the money from subscription and ad revenue with a very small percentage trickling down to the musicians who are actually making the commodity being distributed. It’s possible to make these changes pretty easily and it all starts with a simple mindset shift.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.

1) Move, breathe, or meditate in some way, everyday.

Set up your days with your wellbeing in mind before anything else. This will make it possible for you to show up for all you have going on in the absolute best health and mindset. It’s really common for creative entrepreneurs to wake up in the morning jazzed about the next project or ready to jump back into yesterday’s work. Before you know it, hours have passed and you haven’t attended to yourself personally at all. You become unclear, ungrounded and exhausted — incapable of tapping into your creativity and brilliance. This is less likely to happen when you begin your day from an intentional place. Small breaks for movement, breathing exercises or mini-meditations are also great things to do at transition points throughout the day, or just before starting any new project so you can get yourself centered and be ready to act on inspirations.

2) Be authentic and from your own authenticity, take confident action.

There’s a difference between ego and authenticity, confidence and cockiness. It’s important to understand all these aspects of personality so you can be aware of where your motivation comes from, and be fully who you’re meant to be in life and work. Ego is often based in fear; you’re trying to be someone or something you’re not because you’re afraid of being perceived as less than. Authenticity is all truth! Get to know yourself and embrace your talents, skills, weaknesses, passions and ingenuity. When you trust yourself you’re able to make decisions and take creative chances with confidence. You’re able to ask for help or feedback. A confident creative person is a resilient person. You recover from mishaps gracefully, you learn and pivot from failures. You also inspire others you’re working with to be themselves and collaborate well.

3) Celebrate your accomplishments.

When you’re a creative entrepreneur it’s easy to hop from one project to the next without acknowledging what you’ve accomplished before moving on. When you don’t acknowledge yourself for what you’ve learned or created — even the tiniest wins, you don’t gain confidence and clarity moving forward. But when you take a minute to really celebrate how you’ve grown, you train yourself to be aware that you’re always expanding and that you’re capable of really cool things. Celebration creates joyful momentum!

4) Be discerning about who you share your vision with at the beginning stages of any creative endeavor.

Think of your ideas and inspirations as newborn babies. They need protection, nourishment, time to grow and change, observation, love. Sometimes even the most well meaning people will immediately offer advice or poke holes in your ideas before you’re ready for that. Anyone shooting down your idea early on has the potential to disempower you so you can’t see for yourself what works or think through how you’ll do things. They may cause you to stop moving forward on something that really could have been great. Even though you’re excited, take time to get to know your idea so you can share it confidently. When you do share your idea, you’ll have a clearer vision and a thicker skin to be able to receive feedback. When the time is right, be sure the people you choose to share with are truly on your team. That doesn’t mean they won’t inquire in ways that could change or enhance your idea, it just means they’re going to listen responsively rather than reactively right up front. They’re the kind of people who want you to succeed. The kind of people who’ll let your unique creative energy flow and trust that you’re only going to act on your most fully formed ideas, willing to change and grow with them.

5) Look for inspiration everywhere.

Inspiration lives in the most unexpected places. Be open and awake as you go through your days. Don’t limit yourself to receiving inspiration from the types of people, places and things that you think a creative person like you is “supposed” to receive it from. Meet all walks of life. Listen. Watch. Observe nature. Songs, poems, business ideas, problems to solve, and ways to pitch in are all around you. You just have to be aware enough to notice.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

One issue that bothers me more than most is world hunger. I just don’t understand how we can live on such a giving planet and have so many people go to bed at night not having eaten enough nutritious food. I’m passionate about eating nutrient rich, plant based foods and I’d be honored to someday partner up with intelligent people making a difference, getting healthy nourishment to those in need. I actually make a line of organic loose leaf herbal tea on a very small scale as well as share my own vegetarian recipes for which I’d love to make a cookbook someday. I dream of being able to grow my natural foods-based product line and use it to support this effort!

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Gosh, there are so many people who fascinate me and I want to say something really deep like Thich Nhat Hanh or the Dalai Lama because I know just being in their presence would remind me of my own vast inner peace. Or, Dolly Parton because: Dolly! But if I could only pick one person to meet at this point in my life I think I would choose Marie Forleo. I know she’s a person with inspirational stories from her own experiences and from working with so many amazing people. I’ve already learned a lot from her in the virtual space that has supported my mindset and career, so I can only imagine how much more I could learn about entrepreneurial-ship and being multi-passionate from an actual conversation with her. If there was ever someone I wanted to look at my body of work and give me feedback and guidance, it would be Marie Forleo!

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!

    You might also like...


    Olivia Chessé On How To Leave a Lasting Legacy With a Successful & Effective Nonprofit Organization

    by Karen Mangia

    When Food Waste Meets its Cure

    by Neel Venkatesh

    Nena Dimovska On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

    by Karen Mangia
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.