When we left off, Malia had caught the eye of Barry Manilow and had even won a Manilow Music Project Scholarship. We had to ask…

“How did you go from marketing intern and USC music student to now we’re hearing your songs all over the radio?” 

She laughs, as if to indicate that it was not as simple as it sounds.

“Well…it definitely took a minute! Even to this day when I look at where I’m at, I’m so, so grateful to Garry (Kief) because I wouldn’t be able to be where I am without him. Barry taught me so much performance-wise, but then I learned how to build a team of people from working at STILETTO (the management company owned by Garry Kief, Barry’s manager).

“He would say, ‘You have to be with these people twenty-four/seven and if you’re on the road it’s just as important that you like the people you’re with as it is that they do their job well. That blew my mind because you always hear about people in the music industry who are mean but they’re really good at what they do and sometimes you have to deal with them being a jerk. That’s not the case at all, though, and I really took what I learned from Garry and that’s how I worked on formulating my team.

“I was at USC and I was in their a capella group. When I was a senior I found out this songwriter, Ross Golan, had been in the group about 15 years before me. Ross had just written “My House” for Flo Rida, “Same Old Love” for Selena Gomez, and “Dangerous Woman” for Ariana Grande was coming out the weekend that we had this 20th-anniversary celebration.”

Golan spotted Malia’s talent at the a capella party and asked for her tape. He saw her again soon when the acapella group was asked to sing at the BMI awards, where he and friend/producer J Kash won more awards than they could carry.

“I was so busy with school and I was the choreographer of the group too, so it didn’t even hit me how important this (performance) was until I got there. I looked out in the audience and Taylor Swift was sitting there by Carole King. Then, I was walking up to do my solo and I locked eyes with Jason Derulo and it all hit me right then, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really, really important! I can’t just fake my way through this!’ I had to make sure I was being the truest form of myself as a singer and artist.”

The pressure of performing for a room full of superstars was no match for Malia, who wowed Golan and Kash. 

“Ross (Golan) was there with J (Kash) and he basically never left the stage because he was winning awards the whole night. After the show, Ross said J wanted to meet me and he offered me a publishing deal.” 

“Heart Broke” (stripped version) has been blowing up on streaming services. Watch the video now!

Just like that, Malia had a publishing deal. Golan encouraged her to spend the next year writing music for herself. She and her roommate wrote bops like “Champagne Clouds” and “Heart Broke” on her Silverlake balcony. Soon after, Golan and Kash offered her a development deal to develop her as an artist. Before she knew it, “Champagne Clouds” was on the radio.

It took only three months for “Champagne Clouds” to hit the 4 million mark on Spotify.

“It all happened super fast. I made sure to keep in mind everything I learned at STILETTO and I’m really proud of the team of people I’ve built. I feel really safe and really protected, which is kind of a rarity in the music industry. 

“I didn’t have a manager when “Champagne Clouds” started getting radio play, but within a year I found my management company who set me up with an agency (Paradigm) and they got me touring opening for JoJo on her US tour. Soon after, I was signed by Aaron Bay-Shuck, co-CEO of Warner Records.” 

She casually throws away the fact that she was signed by the same record label as legends such as Madonna, Dolly Parton, and Fleetwood Mac. 

Malia is graceful and has a way of making difficult things look effortless. One who’s not paying attention could mistakenly think this was an easy journey and miss the many years of hard work, sacrifice, and even couch-surfing that got her where she is today. 

There were many steps that took her from unknown high school singer to Warner Records’ newest artist, but one thing she says repeatedly is how eternally grateful she is to Barry Manilow, Garry Kief, and The Manilow Music Project. 

Keep your eye out for Malia Civetz. There is so much more to come.

Malia, keep making us proud!