Folk singer Ani Mari started out her career just messing around with her childhood friend Kora. They and their families were attending the Blissfest music festival when they created a song about the festival. As 12-year-olds they had been pretending they were in a band for years but when they played this song for their families, it shocked them.
Ani and Kora’s families encouraged them to perform for an open mic at the festival and since then they have become “Ani and Kora” a duet that has performed in numerous venues and festivals and is soon releasing an album titled, “Good Fighter.”
Currently, “Ani and Kora” are on hiatus as they are attending different colleges but Ani Mari has begun to break into the Ann Arbor music scene as a solo artist.
On Jan. 27, Mari performed at The Blind Pig along with Kelly Hoppenjans, on vocals, Jack Harris on drums, Matt Stawinski on guitar, Michael Michaud on bass.
In addition to being a vocalist, Mari has classical piano training and plays the guitar and ukulele (mostly focusing on guitar accompaniment) during her shows.
“When I first got [to Ann Arbor], I immediately missed playing music and I realized that if I wanted to do that I was gonna have to break into the Ann Arbor scene,” Ani Mari said. “We rehearsed like five times before the show and [the other performers] were all great. The show went as well as it could have, with a few mistakes but that’s just part of live performing. That’s the beauty of it, you just roll with it.”
Mari has recognized some differences between what it was like to perform in her home town and Ann Arbor, especially with the make-up of her audiences.
“In my hometown, some of my friends would come to my gigs but it was mostly people my parents’ age […] which was great but we wouldn’t have as big crowds. I really respect and enjoy getting the opinions of my parents but they are definitely biased. When someone my age who isn’t even my friend is like, ‘I love your music, you’re so good,’ it’s just different.”
Music is a significant part of Mari’s life as she is currently a freshman attending the University of Michigan’s residential college studying arts and ideas in the humanities with a concentration in music.
“Music really is my heart and soul and as soon as I got [to the University of Michigan] I think the lack of music made me realize how much I need it in my life,” Mari said. “I found arts and ideas in the humanities which I can do an arts concentration in, which is perfect because it’s not just music. I am doing other things within that major so I am not really limiting myself.”
Check out more from Ani Mari on her Instagram or listen to Ani and Kora’s latest single “F the Prom.” Ani Mari will also soon be featured in a Cold Brew Session with the student-run Empty Mug Record