Splice + Manny Cabo
Splice Magazine recently caught up with Manny Cabo in advance of the release of his new single, Hate Has No Home Here. Manny is an extraordinary artist and an even more impressive man. His talents are vast, and his commitment to lead a movement toward a more positive society is notable. Let’s hear what Manny had to say about his music, his art, and his movement…
Manny, it’s great to have the chance to chat with you today. I was reading through your press material, and I noticed that your publicist referred to you as a “Renaissance Man”. That’s a pretty heady title. How did this come to be?
I don’t know, they’re all lies. I just try to uphold the lies, that’s all. But seriously, I’ve always been involved in the art world. But it’s not just that. I was also in the corporate world for many, many years. I worked for big companies like Apple Computer where I acquired a lot of my skills. Have you ever walked into an Apple Store and seen the guys in the trainer shirts? Well, I used to be one of the head trainers there, and I was always involved with empowering others to learn video, and social media and graphic design. I got to thinking that I ought to incorporate some of these skills in myself, which led me to become an editorial photographer for the last 17 years now. I’ve worked with all the major labels, major designers and acting and modeling agencies. I just have a passion for art! I’ve also done a ton of short films. And if you’ve seen my YouTube channel you’ll know that I’m also doing a lot of hosting now, too. I do things that I’m passionate about, and if that makes me a “Renaissance Man“, then that’s appropriate.
How did your education come into play in your career so far?
One thing about education is that it can’t take it away from you. If I went back and did anything differently I would have pursued something more art oriented. But nonetheless, it’s essentially about what you make out of it. You know, education isn’t the deciding factor in a person’s success, but if you have one it’s a beautiful thing.
How did music fit into the picture for you?
Actually, I was surrounded by music from an early age. There was an onslaught of music playing from all kinds of genres. We listened to everything from Spanish Folk to the Beatles, Motown and Disco. My parents just loved music. And I was fortunate to be exposed to all those different genres. I just appreciated music as a whole. I remember sitting there in front of my dad’s old record player and listening to his Beatles album’s over and over and over again. It was a beautiful time, and I think it just carried over throughout the years. And it manifested a really deep desire to pursue music later on. I started to invest my time into playing drums, and I played them for a good ten-year run. I wasn’t the best of the best, but I’d say that I was a good in-the-pocket kind of player. I loved the big power and groove of AC/DC and big 80’s rock! And I didn’t start singing per se, until I was in my early 30’s and I joined a little cover band. Then a couple of years later a good friend of mine said “hey, I think your voice would be great for this original band I’ve been seeing as their lead singer. They can use some help with their front man status.” So, I said to him, “arrange it“, and six months later I was the front man for a band called Sun. And that’s where I think it all took off, and my life changed from there.
Wow! That’s incredible! How did you manage to develop this talent between your corporate work and commercial photography career?
Yeah, it was just good time management. I had learned how to juggle a lot of things. I’m a pretty active guy; I’m always going a hundred miles an hour. I feel guilty when I sleep. I always tell my friends, “sleep, I’ve heard of this, but what is it?” I just really strive to maximize my productivity throughout my day. It is what it is, but it’s definitely not for everybody; I was reared that way. It’s been the story of my life, and it’s been very helpful to me. It’s helped me accomplish the things that I’ve done thus far, so I think I must be doing something right. The way I see it, life is too short, and you’ve got to play hard.
Your energy really comes through in your music…
I’m all about love and peace. I’m not about religion and politics, and my fans know that. Life is so short, and I just want to surround myself with positive people and goodness. And that’s what I tell people when I do life coaching; especially when I’m working with artists. The first thing you have to do is get rid of all the toxic energy in your life. I don’t care if it’s best friends, or even family. And that may come across as being harsh. But the reality is this. If you entertain the negative, you’re going to be completely surrounded by the negative. Think about it…
So tell us about your experience on The Voice. Now the Voice is different from other singing shows in that you don’t have any contact with the judges before the blind audition, right?
Yes, that’s right. There’s a big level of integrity with that, and I think it’s great; it really, really helps. It’s what makes the show so exciting, because you’re out there, and you’re really blinded not knowing how the judges might react. You just go out there and do your best performance. It was an amazing journey. Obviously, it really changed my life! I’ll forever be grateful for that.
Your performance of Here I Go Again was legendary. How did you come to choose that song for the blind audition?
You know, it’s true to the heart for me. It encapsulates my entire journey up to this point. I always felt alone, felt like nobody gets me; everyone thinks I’m nuts. Here’s a guy who always was painting his nails, always been loud and boisterous, always been a happy go-getter. Listen, this is who I am, and Here I go Again just put the icing on the cake where I never turned away from the things that are important and dear to me. Music has always been a part of who I am, entertaining has always been a part, and uplifting souls has always been a part of me too. So that song, coupled with my performance, and I think I did somewhat of a decent job, it earned me a four-chair status. That’s not to boast, of course, it’s just a fact. I felt like I was in my comfort zone and that was the perfect song for me. I couldn’t imagine performing a different song.
Your time on The Voice was short but impactful. Tell us about your experience there.
The tenure that I had there was only two songs, but I was grateful to have that opportunity to showcase my talent to the world! It’s important for me to highlight this, but I never got on the show with the intention to win. People ask me why? It’s simple, I enjoy all of my journeys; I live in the moment. It was never about the 90 seconds of performance. During my time on the show I was actually more of a mentor. Parents would approach me and say ‘Manny, my child is terrified, would you mind talking to them?’ I had 20-25 kids in my hotel room, and I’m teaching them how to meditate. And teach them how when this journey ends, it’s time to move on to the next journey. This is a process, so gain as much knowledge from it as you possibly can, then implement that in your following journey. When I was finally voted off the show, there were a number of people, including staff, who were actually crying. I was able to touch souls, and that was a beautiful thing!
People often miss this, but what we think is the zenith in life actually isn’t. You never really know just how much you affect other people just by being yourself. I wish that people would take the time out of their day to carry themselves with positivity and to be a positive influence more often. That journey for me was an eye-awakener because it kind of gave me my purpose in life. There are a lot of ways to enjoy life; it may be singing, but what’s more important is that we look within ourselves to find that source of inspiration.
Yeah, that’s why I meditate; you don’t have to move to Tibet and shave your head, though there’s nothing wrong with baldness to conquer the philosophy behind meditation. Just quiet your mind for ten minutes every morning before you do anything, including picking up your cell phone to see how many likes you got on your latest post. Quiet your mind. Your brain has about 60,000 thoughts a day, and it’s crazy for some peace; and the same thing goes before I go to bed. All the greatest guru’s will tell you that this is where so many great and inspiring ideas come from. Quiet your mind, and find your source. This is what I try to teach to as many people as I can.
It’s a discipline, then…
Yeah, it really is. The whole reason that I do what I do is to add value and offer people some inspiration. Encouraging people to put aside their fears and pursue their passions. That’s what I’m about at the end of the day.
What was that quote you referenced at the end of Episode 1 of Manny’s Mojo? It was so appropriate…
Oh Yeah. “The universe loves the stubborn artist.” That’s me. I’m as obstinate as they come. So if you take the words passionate, creative and obstinate and combine them, there’s Manny!
So you’re originally from Elizabeth, New Jersey?
Yeah. Actually, I was born in Newark, New Jersey. Then I was raised in Elizabeth pretty much all my life, and my family is still there to this day.
So, after The Voice, you moved to Nashville? Did you have designs on being a country singer?
A lot of contestants on The Voice, including Jamie DuPree who’s now my roommate, said “man, you’ve got to go down to Nashville!” Let’s be realistic, though. I’m not a country artist by even a remote stretch. I grew up listening to real country as a kid. I listened to the Outlaws and Merle Haggard and Travis Tritt. We watched Hee Haw on TV. So I know what real country music is all about, and that’s not me. I came down here to experience Music City as a whole, to experience the life of the artist. This is the songwriting capital of the United States, the world even. I’ve been fortunate to accomplish everything I set out to do down here. I’ve had the opportunity to play at the Arena. I’ve won several awards that I’m really proud of, including Rock Entertainer of the Year. I was nominated for Best Rock Artist of the Year and Best Photographer, which I won. I’m making a name across town for my editorial photography and helping out artists to develop their brand. I’ve got about two albums worth of material that I can take to a producer, and I think would make some waves in the industry. I’m very happy with what I’ve accomplished and I’ve cemented some really great relationships down here. But I don’t know, maybe it’s getting to be time to go back home; not to just leave Nashville, but to come back and revisit and continue the relationships that I’ve established.
Your EP Stratospheric is really compelling. Did you write all of those songs?
Yes, I co-wrote them with two friends of mine from back home, Lee Wilson and Michael Breall. But what was frustrating about that album is that we never had a chance to actually tour it because it came out right around the time that I was moving to Nashville. So even though it was critically-acclaimed and well-received, hardly anyone knows that it even exists. What I’m thinking is maybe adding another five songs to it and then re-releasing it as a full-length album.
Where did the title Stratospheric come from?
On the show, Pharrell Williams said my voice was “stratospheric“. I ran that by the guys and we all loved it, so it stuck. Also the cover art is a photo that I took of Haley’s Comet with a Mamiya RG 67 large format camera. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever disclosed that in an interview. Man, you’ve got an exclusive!
So what’s on the horizon for Manny Cabo?
Well, first of all, I’m releasing a brand new song. But unlike most artists who release new music to climb the Billboard charts, I’m setting out to create a movement. There’s a lot of heartfelt resonance that went into making this song. I co-wrote it with a friend of mine, Bonnie Warren, from Philadelphia. We met through The Voice and she came down here, and we created this incredible song. I don’t want to disclose it yet, but it targets a lot of the issues that are going on today in the world. We’re really excited about it. We’re finalizing the lyric video for the song. We’re working with schools and some political figures, too. It’s a lot of work, but it’s really, really exciting for us, too. I’ve always loved John Lennon, and I’ve always said that I want to write my Imagine. I think I’ve done it with this song. But, I’m not a complacent soul, either. There’s still more to be done.
Manny, thanks so much for your time, this has been an amazing conversation!!
Manny Cabo’s new single Hate Has No Home Here is out now on Apple Music and iTunes. Also, check out the official video on YouTube. But when you listen and watch, pay close attention to the words and take them to heart.
Join Manny’s movement to make the world a little better place. #ImHateFreeMC
Journalist: Gerard Hilinski
Every once in a while, in the ever-competitive entertainment industry, a presence enters the scene that turns heads, opens eyes and ears, touches hearts and makes a lasting impact on everyone they encounter: Such is the case with the multifaceted, arts-embracing, Manny Cabo. From New Jersey, to Manhattan, to L.A., to Nashville, with stops in between, Cabo has been leaving his creative mark everywhere he goes. Whether he’s acting, hosting, photographing or singing, his compelling focus and his artistry shines through.
Now, in Music City USA with an unwavering work ethic and a passionate commitment to music, Cabo’s expedited pace of success suggests that perhaps Nashville isn’t always the “ten-year town” it’s so often deemed as.
Cabo made the move shortly after gaining unforgettable national exposure on season 9 of NBC’s “The Voice.” Shortly after Cabo belted out the very first lyric of Whitesnake’s, “Here I Go Again,” Adam Levine turned his chair around. The other three judges soon followed suit, resulting in a rare four-chair turnaround. To date, Cabo’s performance is still one of the most raved about and YouTube viewed performances in the show’s history.
What set Cabo apart on the show even more than his undeniable God-given gift, however, was his ability to encourage, connect and leave a lasting impact on those around him. His fellow contestants thought of him as a mentor and a brotherly figure as he taught them to spread positivity, to live in the moment and to continue the journey after they return home.
Cabo’s life beyond “The Voice” has consisted of the same passion, helpfulness, and desire to fight for what he loves. As a result, his fan base has also exploded. Though he receives countless e-mails daily, he makes the effort to respond to each and every one. He knows art is his platform to make a difference in the world, and he doesn’t take it lightly. Cabo’s positive disposition on the voice is what ultimately makes him a force to be reckoned with no matter where he goes. As he excels in his career, his main priority remains to those around him. While striving to better himself, he takes everyone he can find along with him. As he walks through crowds slowly, he lives with the mindset, of “Who can I help today?”
Surprisingly, Manny was late to the singing world. He was a drummer, and he had honed his other creative crafts before being the man behind the mic. After directing his first school play in the fifth grade, he realized his passion for directing. Then came photography and acting. Prior to belting out tunes, he even came close to having a career as a professional baseball player, but it wasn’t to be. Though he even once worked as a head trainer for Apple computers, it was clear that art would ultimately be his path.
Cabo continues to make a splash in fashion / commercial photography today. His photos have been featured in a plethora of major magazines including Maxim, Muscle Fitness Playboy, Inked, Musician, NYC Resident, Industry among others. As an award-winning photographer, he delivers a fashion/editorial / edgy appearance and afforded him 2017’s Editorial Photographer of the Year and Best Music Photographer.
In addition, he’s ushering in a New York fashion edge to the Nashville musician. As everyone’s encourager, he wants artists to already feel successful. As an actor, he’s worked on many small music projects and had a number of movie roles. Additionally, Cabo is signed with Allied Artists, with whom he does voiceovers for. Not surprisingly, he can also do a wide range of accents. In the hosting realm, he’s currently hosting a couple of series that are in the process of being pitched. Cabo also has endorsements with some of the biggest brands in music and photography, two of which are Nikon and Sennheiser.
Cabo’s servant heart extends to doing charity work for a number of good causes, including ones involving military and police officers. He works with the “Last Salute,” “National Night Out,” and “Musicians on Call.” Whether it’s going into schools and speaking against bullying, working with children with autism or singing the national anthem at a children’s hospital, Cabo remains dependable in spreading support.
He has been featured on “Today in Nashville,” and is consistently interviewed by TV shows, magazines, and newspapers. He has also had the pleasure of being coached by world-renowned voice coaches, Renee Grant Williams and Debra Byrd. If all of that isn’t enough excitement, he also feels blessed to be backed by a band which features some of the most well-respected musicians in the industry. He’s currently working on a new album and planning a national tour.
As he brings a Passionate and Dynamic pop-rock sound to the stage, he brings an individuality which has an impossibility of going unnoticed. Manny Cabo continues to utilize his microphone for both unparalleled music and influential words of encouragement, and with that, it is certain that his best years in the entertainment scene are still ahead.