Artist Interview: “Free My Soul EP” by Gabby Toledo

Q: “Free My Soul” is a beautifully sung ballad full of soul and emotion. What was the inspiration behind this track and why did you choose it to be the name of your upcoming EP?

GABBY: As I have grown up, I am constantly trying to figure who I am and who I want to be. I noticed that it is really hard for me to be vulnerable and trust not only others but also myself. It has always been hard for me to share who I am with others, but that’s where music comes in. “Free My Soul”, the title track for the EP, is my most vulnerable song. This song is basically a letter to myself recognizing how difficult and scary life can be sometimes, but that at the end of the day, telling myself I need to let go and allow myself to simply just be me. Allowing myself to free my soul and free myself from my own constraints so that I can live a full and happy life. “Free My Soul” was a song that poured out of me when I wrote it. It was like something I didn’t realize I needed to say until I looked up from my piano and the song was done. It was one of those moments when you feel a shift in your perspective and feel yourself growing up. I knew I wanted this song to stay stripped down production wise to preserve the honesty and humility that is embedded in the lyrics. Since it’s my most honest song, I thought it was fitting for the title.

Q: You started performing professionally at 15 years old. What sparked your interest in music at such a young age?

GABBY: My mom claims I sang before I could talk and I knew I wanted to be a singer for as long as I can remember. I grew up with music always playing in the house. When I was 7-years-old, I sang at my first communion and fell in love with singing for a crowd. That was my first time singing in public and I knew it was something I wanted to do forever. Throughout middle school and high school I went to open-mics and eventually got gigs of my own. I would perform at restaurants, bars, and private events. When I started studying at The New School in NYC, I was able to start background singing professionally.


Q: How has studying at the New School in New York City helped you develop as an artist?

GABBY: Studying at The New School has allowed me to connect with so many students and faculty that share the same passion that I have. I’ve been introduced to so many new types of music and artists that have definitely shifted my perspective as an artist. I have been given a taste of the NYC music scene through opportunities to perform and develop as an artist. I’ve also learned that there are a lot of people who want to do the same exact thing as you so you have to work hard and stand out.


Q: We see you’ve performed live on iconic stages such as MSG, Apollo Theater, and Jingle Ball. What has been your favorite performance so far in your career and why?

GABBY: Performing at these amazing venues and stages is something that I will never forget. As a little girl growing up in New Jersey, I dreamt of one day performing on these stages. It was both a humbling and validating experience. My favorite performance was probably at the Apollo Theater. That was my first solo performance on an iconic stage. I was in such awe of The Apollo and have so much respect for its history. It also validated all the hours I’ve spent practicing and the hard work that goes into pursuing a career in music. The energy that can be felt in a big venue is indescribable and definitely something I look forward to feeling again soon!

Q: You’ve also made a name for yourself by being a background singer. Tell us about that experience and what have you learned from it?

GABBY: I have loved background singing. I have always loved harmonizing and singing with a group, but never really considered going into that aspect of the music industry until I was given the opportunity. I am so grateful for the artists and shows I have been able to join. I am especially grateful for the experiences because I was able to learn about the “behind-the-scenes” of the industry without feeling the pressure of it being my show. It has given me more confidence as a performer to put on shows of my own. It has also given me the confidence to write and perform the background vocals on my own music.


Q: What do you hope listeners take away after listening to your EP, “Free My Soul”, once it’s released?

GABBY: I hope that listeners can lose themselves in the stories for each song on “Free My Soul”. I hope listeners sing along in their cars and blast it in the shower. Specifically with the title track, “Free My Soul”, I hope it acts as a reminder to be free and to be yourself.

Interviewed by Brynn Hinnant

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