One thing I love about the Person of Interest series is that I get to meet and introduce you guys to some insanely talented and awesome people rising in the music scene. And that’s exactly who we’re talking to today. Meet Petra Jarrar, a NYC singer who’s on the road to big things…
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi y’all! My name is Petra. I am 20-years-old and I’m a musician in New York City. My journey began at the tender age of 2, when my brother propped me on a piano bench and pressed my fingers on the ivory and black piano keys for the very first time. I was always obsessed with performing, and picked up the guitar when I was 6. Music really became a career to me when I was about 12. I loved writing poetry, but it wasn’t until then that I became interested in combining the poetry I had written with melodic ideas I thought about. Soon after discovering songwriting, I started producing my own songs on my laptop, eventually turning my walk in closet into a mini-recording studio.
At 16, I moved to the West Village to attend my undergrad program at The New School, and spent many of my days going to open mics and cafes to show fellow musicians the songs I had written in my lecture classes earlier that day. In 2015, I released my first single, “Glamour Girl” (which I highly recommend checking out HERE!) and from that day forward, everything changed. I got to play headlining shows at venues like Webster Hall and Melrose Ballroom. I also had the opportunity to headline my own tour in Japan. On top of these amazing things, I also attended the GRAMMYs and went on a national tour alongside Drake Bell for a few weeks this past month. All in all, I’ve been living in the most remarkable dream sequence that I don’t want to wake up from.
How would you describe your sound and yourself as an artist? Which musical artists do you admire?
My music, if I were to classify it, would alternative pop. I would say that a lot of my songs are super edgy and dance-able with catchy hooks that you won’t be able to forget. However, I also ensure my songs are very musically rewarding. I come from a classical background, so arrangements and the use of live instrumentation is very important to me. Besides classical music, I spent a lot of my childhood listening to rock bands. One of my earliest memories as a kid was my dad taking me to see Fleetwood Mac on one of their reunion tours in 2003 because I had an obsession with Stevie Nicks. I always drew influence from powerful women in music; for instance, Cher, Janis Joplin, Madonna, and Lady Gaga. They were all incredibly bold and broke every barrier in their way.
As a songwriter, I like to say the things people are terrified of saying aloud, but I know they’re thinking it to themselves. I’ve never been a person that’s been afraid to say things just how they are. My friends often know me for being blunt, and having a very twisted sense of humour. I love sharing personal stories about my life through song, and I know a lot of the things I experience are shared by many people. So I like keeping things honest, and maybe adding a twist of sardonicism here and there to keep listeners on their toes, and leave them to think “did she really just say that?”
What are your other interests and passions?
I am very passionate about opera. I work very closely with my brother, Felix Jarrar, as he is an opera composer that is commissioned for work throughout New York City constantly. Classical music and opera is where my love for music began, so I absolutely love bringing new opera to audiences and venues. Recently, I acted as Melinoe, the deranged chthonic nymph and the bringer of nightmares and madness, in my brother and his co-writer, Brittany Goodwin’s work, “Songs of Soul Beams.” This role was very different for me, because it required me channeling emotions and feelings I kept buried. It was cathartic to channel my emotions into art, especially into a work as beautiful as this one.
Besides music, one of my biggest passions is social justice. In my undergraduate program, I majored in politics with a focus in pre-law. I was very active in student government, and worked with the President of my school to reform sexual misconduct and harassment policies to provide enhanced support to survivors. Furthermore, I also ran an underground social justice newspaper called, “The Antithesis,” that allowed for students to have a platform to voice their opinions on important social justice issues within the political, economic, social and environmental realm. I still continue my work activist as a musician, and have partaken in benefits for Mount Sinai, Doctors without Borders, and UNICEF.
Within your music career, what is the one thing that you are most proud of?
Personally, the achievement I am most proud of was partnering with Guitar Center both for an advertising campaign, and my national tour with Drake Bell. It all started with an Instagram post; I uploaded a few awesome photographs taken at a rooftop party I played in Brooklyn. Shortly afterwards, I was contact by Guitar Center and was asked if I would like to team up with them for an advertising campaign that would run for the month of July. It was such an enthralling experience. Because the campaign performed well, I partnered with them once again for my national tour. While I was on the road, they allowed me to do a social media takeover and take Guitar Center followers on a behind-the-scenes look at life on the road with me. The entire diary ended up receiving approximately 17,600 views in one day.
What was so incredible about this opportunity was that I was able to achieve this feat as an independent artist. I am not signed to a label, nor do I have a team or manager behind my work. It was pretty thrilling for Guitar Center to support an independent act like myself on such a huge scale.
Word is you’ll be in Philly soon – where can we catch you at?
I will be in Philadelphia on November 15th at The Fire at 7:30 PM! The show is a part of the Women Crush Wednesday showcase. You can find more info here! This is my first show in the Philly area, and I am SO stoked to perform.
What can we expect from you next?
I am going to be acting as “The Ghost of Christmas Future,” in Gramercy Opera’s Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, a new opera by Felix Jarrar and Brittany Goodwin. For more information, you can visit Gramercy Opera’s website for show dates and information for buying tickets. Now, I am in the process of recording my debut album. This will be my first musical release in almost two and a half years. I’m very excited to share this body of work, because this album consists of songs no one has really ever heard before. More details about the album will be emerging within the coming months. Following the release, I will be making my way around the country to tour the record– so stay tuned!