Music can change a person’s mood, help someone through tough times, and even empower an entire movement.
Ilana Harkavy, 26, is making it her goal to empower young girls and women through music with The Just, Girl Project.
Harkavy started singing when she was just 4 years old and she participated in school choirs as well as had some professional voice lessons for about five years. While she does play the piano, Harkavy said she would much rather spend her time singing and writing music.
“It’s something I started doing when I was very young,” she said. “I always had a really deep connection to music which has always got me through a lot of really trying times … it just seemed natural.
“When I got to college I decided I wanted to pursue [singing] professionally,” Harkavy added. Now, she writes her own lyrics and melodies and has just co-produced her latest project.
As a woman, it hasn’t always been easy for Harkavy to make it in the music industry, however.
“You’re treated as disposable [as a woman],” she said, calling the music industry very male-dominated. “With pop music you have the ability to be a lot more of a force, but you have to be independent in order to do that.”
When asked about the effect she hopes her music will have on people, Harkavy replied, “I think that it has an emotion guard on people more than we realize … it’s ridiculously powerful. It can bring you out of any mood, or put you in any mood.”
Such power over emotion is why Harkavy said she chose this medium to get through to young girls.
“Girls are really stubborn; they think they know everything,” she said. “It’s really important that girls [have] something that can empower them and make them feel strong that’s not so in their face.”
Having gone through this life experience herself, and being an older sister, Harkavy was inspired to start The Just, Girl Project. “I wanted to write a record about my own issues,” Harkavy said, “and the things I struggled with, and that my sister struggled with … I tried to be as honest as possible. I wrote about body image, acceptance, et cetera, and then I wrote … how to conquer these struggles.
“I’m kind of obsessed with helping girls succeed,” she admitted, and so she hopes to go on tour one day to spread her message further. While her “ideal” fan would be a 15-year-old girl, Harkavy would be happy to have anyone enjoy her music and wants to reach as many young women as possible with her message.
The Just, Girl Project currently has a crowdfunding campaign to help raise money for various expenses. “Provided we get funded, I want to make a music video … and I want to include as many girls as I can … that’s the majority [of where the money will be spent].”
In addition to the video, Harkavy wants to pay for promotion of the song, as well as a tour that will feature many young girls. She also wants to start up an Etsy store to sell things for young women to help them through tough situations.
Harkavy said, “This project is my livelihood, I put everything into it. I just want people to see that I’m doing it from a place of upmost honesty.”
Harkavy’s EP can also be previewed on https://soundcloud.com/ilanaharkavy/just-girl-ep-preview.
Steph Elizondo is an intern at Lioness. The 21-year-old Western New England University (WNEU) junior is an English-Literature major. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the literary magazine at WNEU, as well as a staff writer for the school’s newspaper. She enjoys writing stories and poetry creatively, as well as essays and articles professionally. She hopes to become a professional writer and editor.