“It was like having someone to talk to that understood what I was going through,” shares Brooke Moriber. “So music kind of kept me company and helped me heal.”
The value and power of music as an element of comfort, invigoration, and healing, has been quoted and referenced a myriad of ways throughout history. However, for New York-to-Nashville artist, Brooke Moriber, the supportive potential of music wasn’t the only source of understanding and encouragement that propelled her relationship with the medium. Her own decision to put a pause on her very active Broadway career juxtaposed a notable amount of uncertainty with unflinching understanding and cheers of support from Moriber’s agent and even the New York theater community at large.
“I was trying to do [songwriting and musical theater] for a very long time and I had to make a decision, I think it was probably five years ago, to just focus on one. And it was really really terrifying to walk into my agent’s office and say, ‘Hey, can you not send me on auditions anymore?’ My agent was actually really understanding, [saying], ‘I understand you want to pursue this dream and we can always come back to theater’,” Moriber explained.
“[The Broadway community] was very supportive of me doing this. I feel like one day, you know, when and if I want to come back and do [musical theater], I feel like I still have a family there so that’s a really good feeling,” Moriber adds.
Displays of sincere support and positive compassion, certainly set Moriber on a positively reinforced path. Incidentally, this emotionally strong foundation would come in very handy, as the unexpected experience Moriber needed help healing from —sudden and unexplained vision loss—would serve as an even bigger catalyst for the purpose behind music Moriber would come to write and record.
“When I was going through the eye disease, not being able to see, and also the treatments— they were so awful, that it was almost worse than the disease itself,” Moriber explains.
“[Since then], after a year of the A&R process with Reviver [Records], I felt like we were right at the cusp of figuring out who I was [as an artist], but I felt like something was missing,” she continues. “Then, it was like a light bulb went off in my brain and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I remember why I started writing music in the first place and this is what I want to share with people. I want my music to be healing. I want to connect with people so that they don’t feel alone in whatever they’re going through’.”
Certainly, when considering life from a more present-oriented vantage point and all that has entailed, it’s more than understandable that Moriber felt motivation to release her own frustrations and aspirations for the future, in musical form. Her latest releases—singles “Better Days” and “In It Together”—which also mark Moriber’s newest works since signing to Nashville’s Reviver Records in early 2019, were cultivated from an emotional foundation of pure inner strength.
The two songs’ overlapping sentiments of looking ahead to positive change and remembering the power of solidarity respectively, both coalesce gracefully against the backdrop of current events. This effect then becomes all the more enhanced by Moriber’s own singing style, which calls to mind the dynamically bold but vocally emotive timbres of singers like Linda Ronstadt, Cindy Lauper, and Emmylou Harris. Still, even considering the present contextual relevance of the two singles, it’s not difficult to imagine how Moriber’s innate vocal style, combined with her preferred production aesthetics, and internalized life experiences, could lead her to gravitating toward music of a more supportive nature in the broader, long run.
“Definitely, I think writing with perseverance and hope in mind has up until this point, been subconscious. And when I listen to every song I’ve written to this point, I’m like, ‘Oh right, it’s all the same thing,’” she says.
“But now, I finally pinpoint [the sentiments] and I’m like, ‘Okay, this is what I’m doing,’” she adds. “[My experience with vision loss] is nothing to be ashamed of and I’m proud of it now. I’ve survived something that was pretty awful, and I’m now happy to talk about it. I’m starting to get over the difficulty of talking about it so, it’s helpful to me to talk through it.”
Though Moriber’s debilitating condition and perplexing medical odyssey ultimately proved to be temporary, the ways in which a person’s life fundamentally changes with the loss of a primary sense like sight—whether one is emotionally equipped to handle it well or not—can certainly impact and shape a person’s worldview and sense of empathy in a manner that persists and perhaps even extends beyond the bounds of musical concepts and songwriting narratives. “I think [Reviver and I] have really figured out how to use my message in that way, that it’s not just all anthemic inspirational [music] but, it’s very, very, just kind of baring your soul in a way that I’ve haven’t been able to really do before, because I’m being so honest now,” Moriber says.
Currently at a pivotal moment in her career, Moriber stands to not only make a big impression in the music industry, but the multi-faceted artist also stands to help shed light on the often overshadowed topic of accessibility in music—particularly for fans who have been through, or are living with the kind of vision loss she did.
“[My record label and I] haven’t even talked about the distribution [of my music] yet and how everything is going to be technically done but, [accessibility] is definitely going to be a focus. And not just for vision, but I would also like accessibility for other impairments that people might have. I think that’s something that people don’t really focus on in the [music] industry—people who are visually impaired—and I would love to make that part of what we do.”
Though adversity falling into someone’s life is in no way a change meant to be celebrated, the twists and turns of Brooke Moriber’s life—some chosen, some unpredictable—have undoubtedly opened the doors for her and her music to be the uplifting art the world needs. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the core of Moriber’s most emotionally trying days gives her invaluable perspective to widen the mindset of the music industry from a far more direct and personal place than many of her musical peers.
“You know, we shock ourselves sometimes with how strong we are and we don’t realize it,” Moriber says.
“And I want my music to help people realize that we all have that inner strength inside, and we can all connect with each other that way.”