Remember that petite little girl behind the guitar, who broke the internet along with her all-female ensemble on Nescafe Basement? The one with a deep voice that blew us all away with the cover of Love me Again, which was so good that the original singer, John Newman, praised it on Twitter?
Well, the tiny little powerhouse is back with a bang – and we couldn’t be more excited. This month for Cornetto Pop Rock Maria Unera was featured alongside popstar Q, of Josh fame, in a brand new track titled, Aaja Na and only a few weeks after it’s release the song has already reached 3.3 million views on YouTube.
How she landed the Cornetto Pop Rock song?
“Well I didn’t really know much about Cornetto Pop Rock until one morning I get a call from my manager and she tells me that Qurram from Josh would like to speak to me regarding a collaboration,” Unera narrates the incident. “I got in touch with him later that day, and we met in Islamabad, discussed the project and what’s the song going to be like and agreed to be a part of a really fun and different opportunity.”
Women’s Own got up close and personal with Maria to reveal all that is hidden under the pretty little exterior.
Aaja Na was a long distance song
You must’ve heard about long distance relationships, but have you heard of a long-distance song? Aaja Na was one such instance.
“Q had a bunch of ideas and he shared them with me. He was in Canada while I was here!”
Then, how did the song come along?
According to Maria, “It was a little bit difficult being on the same page and understanding what we both wanted. However, we managed to record my vocals here in Islamabad and his there in Canada along with the rest of the music.”
She woke up to John Newman’s tweet about her cover
It ain’t a biggie if you’re Maria Unera!
“I woke up one day and went about doing my usual morning routine which included checking my social media pages. That’s when I came across the tweet on Facebook. The girls were sharing it. I instantly jumped out of bed with immense excitement!”
She is half Filipino
“My mother was from the Philippines and my father is from Pakistan,” Unera shares, “growing up, I was raised under the influence of Filipino culture. There was endless amount of food and karaoke sessions and I was very fond of that.”
According to Maria every Sunday her mother would plug in the karaoke machine and teach her all the classics from Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Tony Bennet to Elton John. “I guess you could say that that was where I got my training,” she explains.
Her pretty exterior hides a tough girl inside
“My mother was always a hardworking woman throughout her life. She was a black belt in martial arts, an excellent chef, and a hardworking employee,” the young artist tells us. “She fought cervical cancer for an exactly one year and lost her battle to it last August 9th 2016. Everything I’ve done till this day, I owe it all to her and I truly believe that she will always watch over me just as how she did my whole life.”
Maria Unera has worked with Reema
Well, technically, her mother worked with Reema in a Pakistani action flick called Mafia, but Unera also did a short cameo! Let’s hear it from the lady herself.
“Like I said, mom was a killer martial artist. She started teaching martial arts with her partner Jalal Haider, who knew a lot of people in the film industry back then. In 1998, they were shooting a film here in Islamabad called “Mafia” which featured actors such as Reema and Babar Ali, who, btw, I totally have a photograph with,” Unera shares with a laugh.
“They needed someone to play the villain’s right hand. Jalal Haider recommended my mother. Since Reema was like one of the good guys, my mom taught her some moves for their fight scene. Mom was like Jackie Chan in that movie, with all the stunts and back flips and kicks and all that cool stuff! And I also made the tiniest cameo in the film towards the end!”
She convinced her mom to let her drop out of school
I was 18 years old when I thought that I want to do music FULL TIME, so I left school and made a deal with my mom. She gave me three years to make a name and achieve some amazing things otherwise I’d be shipped to boarding school!”
What happened next? Did she end up in boarding school? We all know the answer to this.
“Couple of weeks later, I get a phone call and I find out that I’m going to be collaborating with Noori for a Fanta campaign, after that slowly and gradually things started to pick up. Couple of years later, here I am!”
Indeed, here she is, singing alongside Qurram from Josh on a platform as big as Cornetto Pop Rock. And that too without any formal training apart from the regular karaoke sessions in the Philippines under her mother’s guidance.
This post was produced in partnership with Cornetto Pop Rock.