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Meet Mai-laya

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

The sun shines through the half-open window, its rays providing small warmth to contrast the occasional gusts of wind filling the room. A tapestry hangs on the wall alongside paint residue creating a small gallery in the college dorm. Instrumentals play in the background, loud enough to be able to recognize the song but soft enough not to disrupt the chill vibe throughout the space. Three blue couches, various musical instruments, a game console, and television made this room feel cozy and comfortable.

Mai-laya Govia walks across the room to pick up her musical instrument of choice: an acoustic guitar. She begins to play tapping on the guitar and gently plucking the chords to not disturb its fragility. When she is finished, she begins to play tapping on the guitar to keep the rhythm. She warms up by playing chords. “Give me a chord,” she says before playing the request flawlessly.

Then she challenges herself by accepting song suggestions from people in the room. She’ll begin to play and sing, swaying to the sound that she is creating. The experience becomes fluid as she entertains her audience for a while before allowing the guitar to rest.

“I was inspired by a friend to start playing guitar in my sophomore year of high school. I admired how he could perform in front of an audience a song that he wrote himself.” Mai-laya is now a 19-year old sophomore in college. While studying in school, she is pursuing a career as a musician and artist.

In addition to her friend inspiring her, Mai-laya receives motivation to pursue music from the support of her family. “My dad has been my biggest influence in terms of my music taste. I remember as a kid he would play almost everything under the sun, from Simon and Garfunkel to Earth, Wind, and Fire and Andrea Bocelli,” she says. Her family’s interest and deep affection towards music really allowed her to be free as a musician herself.

The constant musical talent that surrounded her life helped Mai-laya accomplish one of her biggest achievements: performing in public. “I performed a few times back home at local shows and those were some of the best ever.” She recalls how she feels before each show she’s performed in saying, “My stomach would have butterflies the entire time before and I’d get extremely anxious. It really does turn out fine and nobody cares if you messed up on that one chord. I’m working on getting the courage to keep performing, but I am proud of myself for having done it before.”

Though Mai-laya receives constant support around her from family and friends, she understands that as a black woman in society, she may experience struggles. “As I am still understanding my own culture and growing into myself, there are definitely some difficulties I have come across, being a black woman in this society.” She continued to speak on the lack of support that black women have.

Mai-laya does want to combat this negativity surrounding her culture. “By building myself and others up,” she says. “Why do we always put each other down? It allows other people to do the same and there’s no way we can rise up if we’re constantly hating each other.”

Years down the line, Mai-laya hopes to be performing or putting out art for people to experience. “I am inspired by other artists and we build each other up thriving more than we could on our own.” Mai-laya wants to become successful in music and art doing what she loves and supporting the people who motivated her throughout her career. Her impact is truly spectacular.

For more Mai-laya, follow her Instagram at @mailayaa !

Copyright©Naava Dae 2020


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