Already a massive star in her native Ukraine, who represented her country in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, Mika Newton is an exciting new arrival on the American pop music scene. A beautiful, blonde dynamo with a soaring, agile soprano and charmingly gregarious personality, Newton has just released her debut U.S. single, the empowering rhythmic pop anthem “Don’t Dumb Me Down.” The track — which was co-written by Rune Westberg (Adam Lambert, Daughtry) and BC Jean (Beyoncé), and produced by musician/producer Randy Jackson and Rune Westberg — is the first shot across the bow for Newton, who signed with the Los Angeles-based JK Music Group last year. Newton will release her Stateside debut in 2012 on Jackson’s Friendship Collective label.
Launching her career in the U.S. has been something of a whirlwind for Newton, who moved to Los Angeles from Ukraine just three weeks after she came in fourth in Eurovision, turning down tempting offers for high-profile hosting gigs, prestigious vocal competitions, and even bigger stardom back home for the opportunity to make her voice heard worldwide.
“I want to perform for everybody. I want to help people with my songs, not just people back home, but people all over the world, especially children,” says Newton, who is strongly committed to charitable work, attending events at foster homes and boarding schools and taking part in auctions to benefit disadvantaged youth. “I feel I have a strong message for young people,” she says. “I want to share my experiences and show them that you can achieve your dreams if you’re willing to work hard.”
Newton found her own voice as a child growing up in the town of Burshtyn, in the western part of Ukraine. At age five, she taught herself to sing by imitating famous Ukrainian and Russian vocalists, and begged her mother to invite her friends over so she could perform for them. “I didn’t know if I wanted to be a singer, but I knew I loved performing,” she says. At age nine, Newton began to enter regional vocal competitions to gain experience onstage. Then, when she was 11, a video of Michael Jackson performing his international hit “Earth Song” caught her attention. “I didn’t know who he was or where he was from, but the passion in his performance was very inspiring,” Newton says. While attending a performing arts school as a teenager (where she studied voice, piano, acting, dance, and pantomime), she continued to compete in local and international talent contests, taking first place at nearly all of them, which led to attention from music industry players. Newton released two albums, and, thanks to performing theme songs for many Ukrainian and Russian television shows and films, became known in her country as the “Queen of Soundtracks.”
At that point, America was already beckoning. Impressed by her natural talent, JK Music Group founders Julia Kurbatova and Oleg Shmelev expressed interest in working with Newton and invited her to travel to Los Angeles for a two-week recording session with veteran songwriter Walter Afanasieff (Michael Jackson, Celine Dion) in January 2011, just a month before she was chosen to represent Ukraine at Eurovision. During that visit, Newton also sang for Randy Jackson for the first time. “I felt his energy and knew he was something special,” she says of the Grammy-Award winner, who is producing her album.
After delivering an ethereal, moving performance of the song “Angel” at Eurovision in May, Newton packed her bags for the States. Since then, she has plunged herself into work, spending most of her time in the studio recording, perfecting her English, and gearing up to perform live, which will enable her to showcase her commanding stage presence, gutsy vocals, and emotional depth.
“That’s what it’s about for me,” Newton says. “I am so honest on stage; it’s when I’m most truly myself. The more honest you are, the more people will connect with you and that’s when you can truly have an impact on someone’s life. I strive to make a difference not only as an artist, but also as a person.”