Give Them Their Flowers: Mollie Rose on voices, violin concertos, and Philadelphia's boundlessly creative scene - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

I meet a lot of talented musicians whenever I host an open mic event called The Juice Jam, and that includes violinist Mollie Rose. She got on stage to jam with the house band The Experience and I was impressed hearing her cover Michael Jackson’s “Butterflies.” What I saw that night was not just a skillful artist but a person with a big love for music.

That love for music is what makes the North Carolina musician appreciate living in a city with a rich culture of art and creativity like Philadelphia for the past five years. Since living in Philly she’s created two EPs, Voices and Taste, and networked with a plethora of other creatives whenever she attends any open mic or jam session. This is why I was honored to have her on the Give Them Their Flowers series.

During our conversation we talked about how her musical journey started when she was three years old, how Michael Jackson’s voice helped her find her own on her violin, and how Philly legend Jill Scott’s Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2 had such an influence on her taste in music.

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…on her early musical influences.

I don’t remember my life without music, honestly. Formally, I started taking violin lessons when I was about 3 and a half. I don’t remember much before then, but music has always been a part of my life, whether its taking Suzuki lessons, group violin classes, or just listening to music with my parents, I’ve always been a music lover.

It was a big mix. We listened to a lot of classical, because that was playing. So in the car, my mom would play the music I was studying — if I’m learning a certain concerto, we might be listening to Vivalidi or something. But then we’d also listening to the music my mom liked to listen to. Which was, you know, all the oldies, we had a big Motown CD compilation, I listened to gospel, I grew up in church, My dad listened to a lot of Billy Joel and Hall and Oates. I had it all.

…on how neo-soul plays into her musical style.

It plays a lot. I did always grow up listening to mostly R&B, neo soul, I used to love Jill Scott, love love loved Alicia Keys. I played a little piano as well and I’d try to imitate her and play songs on piano. I think growing up in that music, it influences  the choices I make today, whether or not I’m thinking about it directly. It helped me grow into the artist I am now, and that I’m still going to be.

…on Michael Jackson and the impact of emotional voices on her violin style.

I think for Michael Jackson specifically, I think it’s his voice, and the emotion he puts into his voice. You notice I named that EP Voices, and even though I’m not really a singer, I’m doing it a little more now, I always talk about that the violin is my voice. And that’s why I named that EP that, and for Michael Jackson, and any other singer I’m influenced by, I try to imitate the emotion and inflections that the voice can do. Typically with the violin, you’re not taught to play that way, but as I kind of stopped taking lessons as I graduated high school, that’s when I kind of started doing my own thing with the violin. That’s when I started really imitating the voice with the way that I play.

…on what she loves about Philly and its music history.

I’m really grateful to Phily for the opportunities it’s even me to grow as a musician. When I first moved here I didn’t really know anyone. So I told myself I knew I wanted to continue growing in music, as well as do my work – I moved up here to go to grad school at Temple. I knew I wanted to do both at the same time, so when I moved up here, I said was going to go to every jam, any musician link-up I can find. So I met a lot of people, I’m still meeting a lot of people. I got to work with other people creatively, working on stuff that probably will never come out. But it really helped me learn how to collaborate, and all that happened here. There’s a lot of opportunity for that. There’s always jams, and even if it’s not really a jam, if you know someone up there they’re always welcoming letting you get onstage and play a song. Six years ago I probably wouldn’t have imagined that I’d be able to have that kind of experience here in Philly, so I’m grateful for that.

And of course, Philly was the birthplace of a lot of great music, including Jill Scott, and that;’s indicative of the opportunitiess and environment that’s here in Philly, that’s been here for a long time.

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