There are thousands are burgeoning bands putting ads in newspapers and online sites, desperate for a shot at the brass ring. Male vocalist wanted. What's a girl to do?
Rock singer Julia Preotu was not about to take no for answer. She had recently emigrated from Romania. She left her friends and a successful local band there for Buffalo, New York, where her mother had settled after remarrying.
"It was really hard to leave an entire life with friends, jobs and my band," she says. "But I understood that I was being given the opportunity to start over at a bigger level in America, which is the dream."
Buffalo offered a massive culture shock, and Julia didn't speak English. She did land a job at the local McDonalds. "That is where everything started for me," she says. "One of my co-workers was a drummer in a wedding band. He told me to go to NYC. I took that advice. I need to follow my dream and find a band."
Already a stranger in a strange land, she left the only thing familiar to her, her mom, and headed to the big city.
New York did not welcome her with open arms. She struggled for two years to find the right band. "Those were really difficult years," she says. "I doubted my decisions all the time."
She had two things going against her: She was female and she didn't speak English.
"Not speaking perfect English was a major problem in fronting an American band," she explains. "Also being a female was a huge problem, as every rock band was looking for a male vocalist."
So she went to work learning English. She moved in with American roommates and religiously watched the news and cartoons to pick up vernacular.
Finding a band was a harder task. She didn't lie about being a female singer; she just withheld information. "Before the audition, I would only use email to talk to (prospective bands), and I didn't sign my name. When I showed up, it was a surprise. I was a female."
After a successful audition, she convinced a group of guys that having a female frontwoman was a good idea—the band MeTalkPretty was formed with James Kluz on drums, Leon Lyazidi on guitar and Nate Meng on bass.
That was just the first hurdle. "The issues transitioned to dealing with (more) prejudices of being a female in rock," she says. "The bottom line is we are few and we shouldn't let all the resistance stop us from doing we want. It's going to be a hard road, and nothing will be handed to you. You are going to have to work hard for every little bit of it."
MeTalkPretty's indie label debut album will be released this summer. The first single, "Wake Up!" will be available on iTunes June 8, and the video is already on YouTube.
The song pays homage to Julia's mom, who passed away from pneumonia a few years ago. "She didn't have health insurance," Julia says. "It is still difficult to comprehend. I know the U.S. is going through healthcare reform right now. I would do whatever it takes, whatever, to make sure someone doesn't lose a loved one to such a treatable disease."
Julia now feels at home in the United States. MeTalkPretty has been doing clubs tours across American and Canada. She considers NYC her hometown. "There are so many people in the city from difference places. I fit right in."
Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, December 9, 2013