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Music

New Orleans Emerging Musicians: Mia Borders

Mia Borders performs at French Quarter Fest (Photo: Katie Sikora)

Come back in time with me briefly. It’s April of 2017 and French Quarter Fest is in full-swing across a multitude of stages, big and small. I am walking to the Big River stage filled with excitement and nerves for a shoot with an artist I have never worked with before and I as I approach the stage, there she is -swinging from the stage rig.

It was at that moment that I knew we would get along quite well. Upon hearing her perform live on the Mississippi River, her powerhouse of a voice took off booming across the water. The music itself draws upon many influences with specific nods towards rock, soul, R&B, and roots music but her songwriting talents set it apart from the rest. Her and I recently reconnected again for a new photo shoot and even though her tenured and dedicated presence in the music community of New Orleans potentially makes the word ‘emerging’ arguable, it goes to show just how much I wanted to showcase her here.

Her name is Mia Borders.

Mia Borders performs at French Quarter Fest (Photo: Katie Sikora)

KS: When and how did you begin playing and what has been the process of getting to where you are now as a musician?

MB: I’ve heard it said that babies sing before they talk. That was definitely the case with me. I’ve been singing all my life. I played piano as a young kid, but I was always drawn to the guitar so I started lessons when I was 10. The process of getting to where I am now has involved a lot of practice, writing, introspection, and most importantly, realizing that I am still learning every day.

KS: Where did you grow up?

MB: I was born and raised in Uptown New Orleans and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

KS: Describe your method/approach/music.

MB: My only method is to go where the music takes me. Sometimes that means lyrics come to me; sometimes it’s a chord progression. I always just try to follow the root of a song wherever it leads me.

Mia Borders performs at French Quarter Fest (Photo: Katie Sikora)

KS: What has been your favorite performance experience in New Orleans thus far?

MB: Performing at Jazz Fest is always great. I first played there in 2010. I grew up going to the festival so to be there performing with my own music continues to be really special to me.

KS: Which New Orleans musicians most inspire you?

MB: I’ve been working with George Porter, Jr. recently and I’m in awe of his work ethic. He could so easily rest on his laurels but he doesn’t. He’s still out there touring and writing new music and engaging with his fans in new ways.

KS: Favorite place to catch live music in NOLA?

MB: I love Maple Leaf and Tips. I’m partial to Uptown, obviously.

Mia Borders performs at French Quarter Fest (Photo: Katie Sikora)

KS: What do you love most about this city?

MB: Its openness. We embrace one another. There’s room for us all here.

KS: What is your favorite non-musical activity to do in New Orleans?

MB: Eat.

KS: Favorite food to eat in NOLA?

MB: Willie Mae’s, Company Burger, ramen from Little Tokyo, Mona’s Cafe, Central City BBQ, and Borgne when I’m feeling fancy.

Mia Borders performs at French Quarter Fest (Photo: Katie Sikora)

KS: Where would you like to see your career as a musician go in the future?

MB: I would like to continue to be a full-time musician, as well as work more behind-the-scenes. I’d like to sign more artists to my label and agency and help other female musicians break through.

KS: When is your next performance in New Orleans?

MB: March 12 at Three Muses on Frenchmen Street.

Katie Sikora graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Visual Journalism and worked as Photo Editor at The Peninsula Pulse in Door County, Wis., Media Strategist for Levy Restaurants in Chicago, Ill., and an Archivist at The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, La. before pursuing her namesake photography business shooting everything from shark tagging research to vodou ceremonies and—you guessed it—weddings! Her photographs have been published by The Chicago Sun-Times, Gambit, The Times-Picayune, RedEye Chicago, The New Orleans Advocate, Houseshow Magazine, Antigravity Magazine, In The Bite Magazine, Thrillist, CBS Chicago, NBC Chicago, and the World Wildlife Fund amongst others. She is the creator and director of The Sexism Project, an ongoing portrait and interview series featuring the stories of real women in real industries experiencing real sexism.

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