(Del Ray, Florida) Mani Hoffman encompasses the “new” age of success and media attention. This Paris-born singer and song-writer has seen great oversees success that spans decades of great music, but his “second wind” arrived in 2014 as a result of one post on a social media site that has gained national recognition. Mani’s oversees success includes several platinum songs which includes the 2001 hit “Starlight” and his 2006 big hit, “Lucy”, with the band Jealousy, which was in the Top 20 in the UK. His biggest success to date is the song “Bang Bang” which was a global radio hit, and was Top 10 on the airplay and video play charts in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. It was also the #2 single in Japan in 2013 and featured in a Samsung Galaxy commercial.
After a lengthy career, he chose to unofficially retire from his music career, focus on songwriting, and moved his family to the U.S. to settle in Florida where his in-laws reside. During the Holiday season, while home with his children, his youngest daughter wouldn’t stop crying so he entered his studio and decided to sing her a song. He chose “Change is Gonna Come” by one of his musical influences, Sam Cooke. He recorded the session with his daughter to distract her cries and nothing more. However, when his wife returned home and saw the footage she encouraged him to post the video online. He sent the video to 95.7 KJR who posted it to their Facebook site. Within 24 hours it had over a million views and instantly went viral. To date, the video has several million views and counting. Au’loni was quickly exposed to his talent via re-post from actress Sanaa Lathan. We were happy to catch up with Mr. Hoffman a few days later as he gave great insight into his inspiration and building a brand.
AM: What made you send the video to 95.7 KJR?
MH: When I arrived in the states, I stopped pursuing a career as a singer because I didn’t know the industry here and focused on songwriting. I decided to be a stay at home dad. The day I posted the video, my youngest daughter wouldn’t stop crying so I held her and just started singing one of my favorite songs. I came across 95.7 and saw that they posted individual videos. I sent them a message, and two hours later they posted it on their Facebook page.
AM: Who are your biggest musical influences?
MH: James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Al Green, and Same Cooke. Soul music is my biggest influence. The genius of African-American music was what came out of the oppression they have and continue to endure in the U.S. and ultimately around the world. I’m Jewish so I can relate to people who give a voice to their oppression and the African-American experience in America is relatable because it’s exposed through their art.
AM: Did you expect it to go viral and re-posted by celebrities?
MH: Seriously, not at all! I posted it because I just thought it was cute to post the video of my daughter and myself. But I believe that people responded to it, because I was holding my daughter and singing a song about the biggest fear which is loss. Whether it’s loss of self or losing a child, suffering loss and hoping for change is the message in the song. The feedback that I’ve received is that most connected to it because of the “change” component and entering a New Year. With the events in Ferguson and the tragedies in New York, this resonates with people and is a reminder that we need to work together and establish peace.
AM: What has happened as a result of posting the video and all the attention?
MH: I’m currently in talks to appear on several TV shows to perform my version of the song. I’ve had several record companies’ contact me, and I’ve even received invitations from reverends and pastors to sing in churches. However the best part of this exposure, is reading the private messages by people who were moved by the video and felt healed by my version of the song. For me, it’s mind blowing that something that I did to simply comfort my child has become an overnight success.
AM: Are you looking to increase your popularity in the U.S. to match your European Success?
MH: Well the next steps are American labels have reached out to sign me so I look forward to exploring those options. My song “Big Shots” is actually on a Heineken commercial so that’s been successful in the states. It’s ironic because moving to the states was my plan to retire from my career and focus on my family. However, I’m not surprised, it’s been like this my whole life, every time I’ve wanted to stop doing music; something happens and brings me back to it. It’s my destiny. Abroad, soul music isn’t an easy success. But in the states, it’s reasonable to believe that I can be a success.
AM: Finally, as your own brand, how would you define yourself in the industry at the present moment? A Start-up, Small business, Company, or Empire?
MH: I’m definitely a Small Business, because my only wheel now is to music and when you’re a small business your passion is not the dollar. As a small business, what you’re doing is not similar to the mindset of a big company; big companies are disconnected to the people who work for them. When you wake up every day as a small business, and you run it, it’s your whole life. Also, the product that you’re selling means a lot to you because you are connected to it. Every step of the way you’re there. It’s the small is less parallel. That’s my connection to music.
Au’loni magazine truly enjoyed speaking with Mani Hoffman and gaining valuable insight into his career but most importantly what inspires him. We look forward to seeing how high this eagle soars!
To keep up with Mani Hoffman and his career, “Like” him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mani.hoffman