She’s only 17 but we can already see a bright future ahead of her! We’re talking about pop star-in-the-making Manika. With a mixed heritage that includes Spanish, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, and Malaysian roots, she’s a fresh new face on the music scene and one who’s poised to become a much-needed positive role model for teens everywhere (no offense, Ke$ha!).
Manika (pronounced Mah-nee-kah) was discovered by Frank DiLeo—who once managed none other than the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson—and TV personality/vocal coach CeCe Sammy of the British show, Pop Idol. As if those two weren’t enough backing for Manika, she also has a strong team of songwriters and producers behind her, such as duo Tearce Kizzo and Francci (who have worked with Keyshia Cole, Patti LaBelle, Adina Howard, and JoJo). With their help, Manika has been hard at work putting the finishing touches on her debut album, due later this year on Wamaframa Records/Sony.
“Manika is a supernova ready to explode,” says DiLeo, who noticed the young singer after she won the Outstanding Performance Award three times in a row at the National Performing Arts Festival in New York. “She is a very rare and unique talent. I can’t wait for the rest of the world to discover her. The kid has it.”
Inspired by her musical idols Avril Lavigne, Pink, and Alanis Morrisette, Manika is all about girl power via mainstream pop. “The journey is fascinating to me,” says the multi-talented teen, who also knows how to play acoustic guitar. “When I watch a live performance back on video, I think about how everything started from a simple emotion, feeling, or story I wanted to tell. The next step is to play with song ideas and then lay down instruments and vocals. Then it all takes shape and suddenly that simple spark has blossomed into something huge and powerful that people can enjoy.”
Check out our EXCLUSIVE video clip of Manika’s debut single “Just Can’t Let You Go,” featuring Young Money rapper Lil Twist—who looks like a mini Lil Wayne! The fun video was shot on Venice Beach, California, and was directed by Travis Payne (associate producer on Michael Jackson’s This Is It).