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New artist Julianne Manalo hopes LGBT community enjoys her dance music | MUSIC AUDIO

SAN DIEGO -- Julianne Manalo, a singer who San Diegans were rooting for during the 2010 “American Idol” auditions, is reaching out to the LGBT community to embrace her new single, “The Afterparty.”

An ally of the gay community, Manalo says the dance tune will resonate with all audiences with its message about being true to yourself.

In an exclusive interview with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Manalo discusses the process of creating “The Afterparty,” the types of music she enjoys, her experiences in local musical theater and jazz bands, and why she supports equality for all Americans.

SDGLN: What is the genesis of your single “The Afterparty” and did you produce it yourself? Where did you record it? Who wrote the lyrics?

Julianne Manalo (JM): The idea for “The Afterparty” was to capture the crazy, unbridled fun that comes along with those nights that last until the morning. I really wanted the song to emanate that feeling of sexy confidence you get when letting loose on the dance floor. This song also represents my self-expression and transition from a young girl to a strong woman. My goal is for the song to serve as a confidence-boosting anthem reminding others that in life there is no time to hold back because “you've only got one chance.” You only have one life to live, so start living it right now! I wrote the melody and lyrics myself and produced the music track with Trackstar Studios.

SDGLN: What is the message of the dance song, and why do you think it will resonate with the LGBT community?

JM: The message of the song is really about letting go, being yourself, and having a good time. I wanted to express the idea that sometimes you just have to “let your feelings take over” and “leave [your] inhibitions at the door.”

SDGLN: What type of music do you enjoy performing?

JM: I have performed all different genres of music but pop/dance/Top 40 hits are my favorite. I love music that I can get up and dance to!

SDGLN: Please describe your experiences in 2010 auditioning for “American Idol,” and how did it change your life?

JM: Advancing to the final “Hollywood Week” rounds on “Idol” was a great learning experience for me. It gave me a glimpse of the pressure and stress you face when competing within the cutthroat music industry. After getting eliminated during the Hollywood rounds, I felt discouraged and I was “down in the dumps” for a while. It was hard hearing the word “no” when it was something that I've wanted since my early childhood years. But told myself that I couldn't stop striving towards my goals and living my passion. “Idol” was a stepping stone for me, because it made me realize that in life, you have to make your own success in whatever you decide to do. In a way it pushed me to be more, do more, and really start taking my career into my own hands. Following my experience with “Idol,” I have been writing my own music and striving towards putting myself before the public eye as a professional artist.

SDGLN: Where did you go to school in the San Diego area?

JM: I attended Torrey Pines High School and I currently attend San Diego State University.

SDGLN: As a teenager, you performed in local musical theater. What roles did you perform in various shows, and what do you bring to your music today from those experiences?

JM: As a teenager, I earned lead roles in a number of musical theater productions such as Mulan in “Mulan,” Johanna in “Sweeney Todd,” Cosette in “Les Miserables” and Marian in “The Music Man.” My theater experiences essentially provided me with a solid foundation for my artistry. The musical theater stage became my comfort zone, where I could let my creativity blossom by taking on the roles of different characters. I think that theater really helped to develop my singing, dancing and acting skills throughout my adolescent years. Being on stage that often really helped me to grow both as an artist and performer.

SDGLN: Describe your tenure with the Torrey Pines Jazz Band, and what types of music did you specialize in?

JM: I was the lead singer for the Torrey Pines Jazz Band for four years and we played a number of famous jazz standards along with a few current tunes. We performed multiple times per month not only in San Diego but also at the Seattle JazzFest and San Francisco. Singing for the jazz band taught me how to connect with an audience and really express emotions through jazz improvisation. I was lucky enough to have gained the experience so early of performing for huge crowds with a live band to play alongside me. It brought me back to the basics; the roots of truly great music. I studied the styles of a number of incredible artists and developed my ability to sing more freely. I learned how to take a song, and really make it my own.

SDGLN: Where else have you performed?

JM: I've had the opportunity perform on stage at a number of notable venues such as Hollywood's House of Blues, Universal Studios' CityWalk, San Diego Padres at Petco Park and The San Diego Convention Center.

SDGLN: What does the future hold for you?

JM: I am currently writing more original music and I plan to release my EP in the upcoming months. I am also working on a few international projects, where my voice will be heard in countries abroad. I want to reach out to all groups, all people, everywhere.

SDGLN: Where do you stand on LGBT issues such as marriage equality and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)?

JM: I am a strong supporter of marriage equality. I believe that same-sex couples should have the ability to publicly display their commitment to one another through marriage and they should be able to experience the same benefits as heterosexual couples. Love is universal and is not something that should be rationed and set aside for particular groups. LGBT people should not be excluded from society and denied their freedoms based solely upon their sexual preference. That goes the same for the ENDA; every minority group deserves to live life free of oppression and discriminatory acts. These are both serious issues that cannot be ignored.

SDGLN: What is something that your fans don’t know about you?

JM: Hmm ... that's a tough one. Well, all I can say is that we all have our dirty little secrets for a reason ;)

Click HERE to listen to “The Afterparty.”

Click HERE to visit Julianne Manolo on Facebook.

Click HERE to message her on Twitter.

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.