Sleepy Hollow Singer/Songwriter Uses Cancer Diagnosis as Inspiration
by W.B. King
From an early age, Bianca Muniz was enveloped by an eclectic range of rhythms and melodies. So, it’s not surprising that this talented 22-year old singer, songwriter and pianist will follow up her 2016 EP release, “Scary Dreams,” with an anticipated full-length album, “For You,” next summer. What’s surprising is that she is battling cancer for the second time.
“It sucks that I have cancer, but it has had a positive influence in parts of my life,” said Muniz. “I use my cancer to inspire people.”
A recent graduate of the Manhattan-based New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Muniz has performed far-and-wide, including at Rockwood Music Hall, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Madison Square Garden where she sang the National Anthem for the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers.
In September, the Sleepy Hollow resident performed with her band, which includes her younger sister, Jacqueline Muniz (18), at Pierson Park in Tarrytown.
“That was actually the first time I have performed outside. It was extremely gorgeous,” she recalled. “We [the band] got to watch the sunset.”
Muniz describes her music as “Avante-Pop.” This amalgam of styles is attributed to the music her parents introduced her to as well as her favorite artists, Alicia Keys and Maria Carey.
“My mom was a professional singer, so I grew up with her singing disco, pop, funk and R&B,” said Muniz. “And when my dad drove us to school, we listened to jazz and classical, which he loved. I’ve learned from every genre.”
Fighting the Good Fight
Cancer doesn’t define Muniz nor does it slow her down. At age 11, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At the time, the then Elmsford resident was learning piano, singing in the school choir and performing in plays. Music became her sanctuary as she went through surgeries and six months of chemotherapy.
“When I was diagnosed, I had just gotten the lead in a school musical. It was scary,” said Muniz. “I always looked forward to going to rehearsal and then showing the nurses all my songs.”
Muniz was in remission for 10 years until she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. While she is “doing well” with her cancer treatments, she has a surgery scheduled in December. “I’ll be done with treatment in March 2018,” she said confidently. “This has made me push forward and keep making music.”
One of the songs on Muniz’s forthcoming album is “Take Me Away.” She said it was her sister, Jacqueline, who pointed out the autobiographical nature of the lyrics. This admission wasn’t deliberate, but a subconscious reveal, explained Muniz.
“What would you do if I said it was a lie? Every perfect smile is just a terrible disguise,” one verse reads (in part). “Take me away to somewhere in the night and let me escape from the sorrows of this life,” she sings in the chorus.
While an admittedly positive, upbeat person, Muniz has had understandable fleeting moments of weakness. One day while going through a chemotherapy treatment, she became “a little” upset and began pouring her feelings into a journal entry.
“I ended up posting it [online] and received a lot of responses from people I know, and a lot from people I didn’t know,” said Muniz. “Many people who had cancer reached out to me because they said it was a safe place, which is exactly what I want the blog to be.”
This well-read blog, “Everything Happens for a Reason,” offers readers a candid insight into Muniz’s battle against cancer: the highs and lows as well as the triumphs.
“When I was doing research about other women my age with breast cancer, I couldn’t find anyone my age, which is another huge reason I started the blog,” she said. “I want people to reach out to someone their own age and ask questions and feel comfortable knowing that they have someone to talk to.”
Muniz’s four-piece band will perform three dates in Montreal this October. For more information, visit: www.biancamuniz.com.