Don’t focus on perfection — If you continue to push yourself, you will see growth. If you sit around waiting for perfect, you’ll never get anything done.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tara Hack.
Singer, song writer and musician, Tara Hack, realized the power and symbolism of music from an early age. Through her songs, Tara is documenting modern life and love, observing characters and their stories, chronicling all of it and setting it to music. “I try to write empathically,” Tara says. She found an early affinity for classic music from the 1940s and 50s, dancing around her living room to the likes of Bing Crosby, Etta James, the Rat Pack, and Glenn Miller Band. Tara is currently in the studio, writing and recording her debut original album. The process has been an empowering one, with Tara firmly in control of her creative process, incorporating the music of her childhood influences, as well as more-current artistry from Coldplay, John Mayer, Avril Lavigne, Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch. When asked what her ambition is for the release of her new music, she says “to make someone’s day better. Whenever I’m performing, that is the goal.” In these unprecedented and pressing times, that seems to be exactly what is called for: music that makes someone’s day better.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in West Babylon, a suburban town on Long Island about 40 minutes from NYC. Living close to Manhattan gave me the opportunity to be close to the city’s creativity and I was able to approach a career in music in a unique way. My dad was a conductor for the Long Island Railroad and would notice musicians busking for tips. He came home one night and suggested that I give busking a try.
I took his advice and would often ride with him into the city. I started to bring my guitar and perform for the commuters. This decision forever changed the course of my life as a performing musician.
My parents were always supportive of me and my music and before I was able to drive, they brought me to all of my local gigs. I wanted to pursue a career in music. The only other career that I contemplated was in TV/entertainment. I hit a point in my life where I felt I needed a back-up plan and Hoda Kotb, from the Today Show, inspired me to pursue a career in television. After graduating from college with a degree in radio and television production, I briefly worked as a production assistant at NBC Sports, which I loved, but realized that music was the path I needed to continue on.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Since an early age, I was always singing and performing. My older brother had a guitar that I would pick up and play. Although there are no other musicians in my family, I was always surrounded by music. From Billy Joel to Bob Marley, I had interest in various genres and started to embrace all types of music. My first CD was Sheryl Crow’s Tuesday Night Music Club. At the time, I was so young that I don’t even think I knew who she was. I simply just picked it up and said, “can I have this?” Little did I know that her music would have a strong influence on me and my career.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I would often play for commuters in New York Penn Station, (one of the busiest railroad hubs in the U.S.) and meet people from all walks of life. My goal was simply to make someone’s day better. I liked to cover Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah,” and one day when I was performing this song, a former marine came up to me with tears in his eyes to tell me that he was touched by my performance. My music was resonating with others and that was all the proof that I needed to know, that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Another time, I was playing U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and a woman in a wheelchair was being spun around by her boyfriend who was dancing with her. These moments are what motivated me to continue playing.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was meeting with the manager of a coffee house in Lindenhurst, NY, that hired local talent to play live music. He asked me about my repertoire. I was so young and nervous, I had no idea what repertoire meant. I told him that I never heard of that song, but I can learn it and would definitely play it if given the opportunity to perform at his shop.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am currently in the studio, writing and recording my debut album, and I am excited about my first two singles.
“Let Go” is a break-up song and one of the first produced songs on my debut album. I love this song because it is an homage to Avril Lavigne, who has influenced my music deeply. “Let Go” is a follow-up single to my debut song, “She Wants To Be Loved,” which is about a woman who is ready to find her way in life and move past a hardship. My music is a commitment to my storytelling. I’ve always wanted to mix Billy Joel’s storylines with Ed Sheeran’s instrumentation style.
A little teaser…I am super excited to release a song called “Only Got One.” We recorded part of it at Abbey Road Studios (the most famous recording studio in the world). When I wrote it, I pictured it being something John Mayer might sing.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity in the entertainment industry is imperative. Music, in particular, should accurately depict society, and there is no question that music is the universal language.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Get a mentor — I feel that I am surrounded by incredible and influential people at this stage in my career, but realize now that I could have benefited from having a mentor earlier on.
- Do not split your focus — it’s important to focus 100% at the task at hand before moving on to something else.
- Invest in marketing — I am currently doing this, but wish I knew more about it, and committed to a program from the start.
- Push Yourself — you have to outdo yourself every single time
- Don’t focus on perfection — If you continue to push yourself, you will see growth. If you sit around waiting for perfect, you’ll never get anything done.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
It’s easy to burn out in the music industry. There will be up’s and down’s and you will have to adjust to new challenges each day. Before you give up, remember how badly you want it. Some days you might work 12 hours; other days will be shorter. I believe that if you accomplish even one small thing a day, it puts you further ahead from the day before.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
To me the most important thing is to spread love and happiness. I want to live my life in a way that I wish others would live.
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?
First and foremost, I am extremely grateful for my parents. Their love and support has helped shape me into the person I am today. I am also grateful to my business partner in this music venture who I met in Atlantic Terminal while performing. From the start, he believed in me. I wouldn’t be where I am in my career if it wasn’t for him. He gave me a life-changing opportunity. With the support I received from my train station performances, along with his help, I was able to book a trip to Abbey Road Studios in London for a set of recordings to be released in the near future. That has been another life-changing event for me and a major turning point in my music career.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Barbara Corcoran is a true inspiration to me and her quote, “Don’t you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct,” is something that will forever resonate with me. It’s always been better for me when I follow my gut instinct then when I go against it.
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, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I don’t think that I can narrow it down to only one as so many people have inspired me, and I would jump at the chance to get to know any of them. On the creative music side, I would love to meet Chris Martin of Coldplay. He is extremely talented and watching him work would be the lesson of a lifetime. Avril Lavigne is the reason I started playing guitar. I would definitely love to meet her, and I think we would get along really well together, and might even be good friends. On the business side, I would be honored to meet Barbara Corcoran and have the opportunity to take in all of her positive energy and wisdom.
How can our readers follow you online?