Meredith Baker
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Meredith Baker

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Pop Acoustic

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Harvard is one of the most diversely talented colleges in the country, and many times students don’t even know the extent of their peer’s abilities. In our new series, we interview and showcase some of the college’s best artists and their work.

HPR: Hey Meredith, thanks for taking time out to meet with me and to share about your music. So let me start with the first question: how did this all get started for you?

MB: I always wrote poems in high school, but I began to wonder if I could turn them into songs. With that in mind, I started learning guitar so I could translate them to music.

I find songwriting a great form a therapy, especially to get away from all the stress here at Harvard. Also, when I travel, I always take my guitar with me so I can play for the people I’m with. I was teaching in Nambia one summer and I played my students the song “Baby, Baby” during one morning in assembly. In a couple of weeks they were telling me in the hallway: “Miss Baker, play ‘Baby, Baby’!’.” It was a great moment for me.

HPR: Who would you consider major influences in terms of your playing style?

MB: John Mayer, he is my musical inspiration. I think all his songs have really described my experiences in life. Just as my songs describe friendships that I’ve had or dealing with a broken heart, I’ve found him to be a huge influence in the kind of songs I like to write.

HPR: So how often do you find yourself writing music?

MB: I write about once a month. Once I’m inspired to write about something, an idea or concept I’ve been thinking about, I’ll write it out in about 10 minutes.

This summer, I went to Israel and Cyprus which were such beautiful places. Even though I was travelling alone, I loved being there so much I was inspired to write a song, “Alone In Paradise”. That’s my first song on the ukelele.

HPR: Could you tell me more about your song-writing process? Do the lyrics come first, or does a tune pop out in your head, or is a mix between?

MB: Usually something significant happens in my life, and then I think about how I want to remember it – a lesson that I’ve learnt, or a specific feeling I’ve had. Once it crystallizes, I put it down into writing in about 10 minutes and I’ll try not to change it as much as possible.

HPR: Where do you see yourself going with your music? Are you considering the industry?

MB: I would love to, though right now I’m looking at performing more and meeting other musicians. What makes me really happy is performing and making my audience happy too. In the end I want to give it a shot, no matter what happens. I don’t want to look back next time when I’m 40 or something and regret that I didn’t at least try.

HPR: What is the favorite song you’ve written so far and what is it about?

MB: That’s a tough question, but my favorite song would probably be the first song I ever wrote “Baby, Baby” — not to be confused with Justin Bieber. It’s about how everything will work out in the end and discovering the little things you really enjoy in life.

HPR: Do you feel that Harvard has given you enough opportunities to perform and exhibit your music?

MB: Though I’ve been able given some opportunities at several events like the Eliot House barbeque, the Starbucks in the Square, the Asian American Association’s Coffee House – and the recent HPR meeting – I wish there were more venues to perform.

Baby, Baby (Namibia):

http://youtu.be/oZJg09G9qSw

Alone in Paradise (on the ukelele in Rio):

http://youtu.be/YBZoMlWw0go

Beside Me (in Kenya):

http://youtu.be/HNX8nBQDV7A

Crystallized Moment in Time:

http://youtu.be/ucoDBUsytHs - Harvard Political Review


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

I am an aspiring singer/songwriter and a senior at Harvard.

I’ve been writing songs since high school graduation and my guitar has become my cultural ice-breaker. I can confidently say that more kids in Namibia know my songs than they do in America, as I would play guitar for my students after class every day when I taught in Namibia after my freshman summer at college.

My lyrics are my way of making sense of memories that often times were gone too soon. Writing them down and translating the moments into song has been my way of making sense of and immortalizing a particular way someone made me feel or a certain time in my life. At first, songwriting was just a form of procrastination at Harvard. Then I met Kate Schutt, an inspiring person and incredible musician, who gave me the crucial push and guidance to take my music more seriously.

I have played at Citi-Field, The Bitter End, Washington Square Park and Harvard’s Asian American Coffeehouse (I was the minority Caucasian).

Aside from my love for music, I love adrenaline rushes, making impulsive decisions, and exercising both my journalism and actual muscles. Thus far in my 21 years, I have run 7 marathons, went scuba diving in a shipwreck, went sky-diving over the Namibian desert, helped undocumented immigrants find work in Houston, written about my time in Latin America and Africa for BBC, Harvard Crimson, Houston Chronicle, and Teen Vogue, worked for Mayor Bloomberg, Stephen Colbert, and the former Prime Minister of Haiti, in addition to interviewing drug lords in the favelas of Rio, and in riots during the Honduran coup d’etat three years ago.

While I have many passions, music is the fusion of them all and I love being able to use my guitar to break across cultural boundaries when I travel. I have taken my guitar everywhere I have gotten a passport stamp and used my music (and cover songs) to break across cultural boundaries. When I taught in Namibia, I played Katy Perry's 'Hot N' Cold' on the guitar to teach my students the meaning of synonyms and antonyms. The music not only made my grammar lesson plans more entertaining , but it gave the students a glimpse into the US pop culture and made them feel connected to kids their age halfway across the globe listening to the same music.

I love 'creating my sense of home' through my experiences and music. My life mantra that I apply to music and everything I take on is 'If I can, then I should.'