Welcome Home. We are ALL One.

Here is a collection of family immigrant stories from across our human experience.

Ready to share your story?

Share your story here

Share your story with our community and get a free gift of poetry and song from Deepak, Kabir, and Paul.

Mari

Have an image to go with your story? Upload it here

I'm so proud to officially announce that I am featured on Deepak Chopra's new album “Home- Where Everyone is Welcome”. On this project I sing a track inspired by Celia Cruz, a singer whom I personally met, and whose energy on stage was an example for my career as a performer. This project makes an important point in a moment where political separatism and contrasting values seem to break this country apart. As an immigrant I always admired the great possibilities that the United States of America could offer and I was inspired by its constitutional values. I was just a teen ager when I moved here, and such journey made me grow up in many different ways. During that time of personal search I discovered that my diversity as an artist was not something to be tamed or denied, but a strength. I also discovered my resilience and determination day by day.

I came to United States from Italy and my ancestors are Italian and Brazilian. My mother is very proud of my achievements and still lives in Italy. For many years it was very difficult for her to accept my decision to become an immigrant. I am her only child and my father, who was a talented graphic designer from Naples, had passed away when I was only four years old. It was hard for me as well to leave everyone behind, and to create a new life in a foreign country without the support of my family. I did not have any financial needs in Italy that would justify my decision, however, I had the spiritual need to find new meanings for my music, and to challenge myself with new musical idioms.

I had a lot to learn in the process, however, while I was trying to figure out the “American way” I realized that there is not only one American way, but many ways to be an American. In the first year I was missing my country and I longed for the day that I could go back home again, but one particular day profoundly changed me and United States became home for me. On September 11th, 2001 I lived in New York, and I worked a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. During that tragic time everyone from every city, ethnicity or religion came together to help New Yorkers in their desperate search for missing people and missing hope, and humanity prevailed over politics. I observed how bridges were created among languages and faiths for a common goal of brotherhood and solidarity, and I understood what being an American really meant.

A few years ago I finally became a USA citizen. In one of this photos you can see me holding an American flag during that emotional moment during which I was surrounded by many people from so many countries, who had their own immigrant story to tell, and a common belief in the power of freedom and equality.

In the other photo you see me on my graduation day from UCLA with my family. That was another incredible moment in my journey as I could prove to my children that they can achieve anything if they really believe in themselves. The United States of America also gave me the gift of meeting my husband Leo who is a talented musician, and a naturalized Brazilian immigrant. The family that I created in this country has been my support and my inspiration during the years of sacrifice to obtain a Bachelor degree in jazz and ethnomusicology from one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Achieving such results and being accepted the following year with a full fellowship to UCLA African American studies graduate program still feels like a dream coming true.And it is even more unbelievable when I think that only a few years ago English was a language that I could barely speak! I hope that my achievement will inspire others and prove that the American dream is not on papers, but lives within us.The song “Queen” that I sing on this album with the amazing Deepak Chopra has the heartbeat of that dream.