Singer-songwriter Muni Long rises to star performer

Muni Long began her career as a songwriter but after years of writing chart-topping songs for music icons like Rihanna and Kelly Clarkson, Long has stepped into the spotlight herself as a performer.
5:01 | 05/24/22

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Transcript for Singer-songwriter Muni Long rises to star performer
(SINGING) Things are different, and let me show you how. I'm not the same. I've changed. INTERVIEWER: Viral sensation Muni Long may seem like an overnight success, but this breakout solo artist has already made quite a name for herself after spending 12 years writing chart-topping songs for icons like Ariana Grande, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, and Kelly Clarkson, co-writing her hit "Love So Soft." - (SINGING) Love so soft. Love so soft. INTERVIEWER: Now it's her time. - (SINGING) Yours, mine, ours. INTERVIEWER: She released "Hrs & Hrs" in January, quickly viewed by tens of millions on TikTok and other social media. It put her exactly where she wants to be-- out front, on top, and singing her own songs. - I'm a fan of writing about nuance like perspectives, different moments and describing how that feels. It's pretty easy when you just keep it truthful. INTERVIEWER: Her truth turned into hit after hit, co-writing number-one songs like-- - (SINGING) It's going down. I'm going tonight. INTERVIEWER: --and-- - (SINGING) Baby, I'm worth it. Uh-huh, I'm worth it. - I think one of my favorite lyrics that I've ever written is from "California King Bed." - I love that song. - Thank you. - (SINGING) Lips that felt just like the inside of a rose. - I've never kissed a rose, so I don't know. But I assume that it's very soft. INTERVIEWER: Beautiful lyrics. But the writing credit on that song and so many others lists Priscilla Renea, not Muni Long. - Muni Long, the name and the character that I created, was really just the person that I always was and the way that I always saw myself. INTERVIEWER: Born in Vero Beach, Florida, Priscilla started singing at the age of two, wrote her first song when she was eight, more than two decades later, a prolific, gifted songwriter with financial success, and yet the constant feeling of wanting more. - A lot of times, you walk into a room. I could have all these accolades and hits under my belt. But the artists that I'm working for has no clue. Very rarely do your co-writers actually know who you are. - That breaks my heart a little bit. - It's like speed dating. You got four to eight hours to write a hit song. And you're doing this every day. - (SINGING) I could do this for hours. Yeah, yeah, yeah. INTERVIEWER: A decade of pitching and selling her songs, chasing her dreams, all while waking up every day in physical pain, quietly battling lupus, an autoimmune disease that can be debilitating, even deadly. - I had a few scares where I thought, like, what if I don't make it? Dealing with respiratory issues, I thought, if I die, would I be happy with what I have done so far? And at the time I asked myself that, the answer was no. So I decided that I would stop doing things I don't want to do and just only do what I want to do, no matter what anybody thinks. INTERVIEWER: And then this, an empowering encounter with Jay-Z at a party. - He said to you what? - He just sort of, like, motioned for me to lift my head up and, like, came down to my level and was like, hi, I'm Shawn. He's letting me know that I'm not small. Don't make myself small. INTERVIEWER: A powerful sentiment that would turn into a mantra and eventually transform Priscilla into Muni. (SINGING) Don't want to grab for another, another, no. - It took me a long time to realize that I had a choice about who I wanted to be. INTERVIEWER: Confident, taking control of her future, and possibly shaping others. (SINGING) Oh, my god. Can I sing to you? - A huge part of it for me is also representation. When you look at all the little Black girls that are singing my songs on TikTok-- babies. They can't even barely talk, and they're loving my music. I could not do that as Priscilla. INTERVIEWER: Currently represented by Def Jam Records and how about this? Muni now taking calls from, and meetings with, some who didn't think Priscilla had what it takes. - (SINGING) You wasn't focused. So focus. That means the plan worked. My mama always says, don't tell people where you're going because they'll get in your way. So by the time people found out that it was me, it was too late. You can't stop it. (SINGING) And even though you're pretty with an attitude. INTERVIEWER: And that brings us to today, a new album of her songs. She sings them all under a record label she built and runs. - [CHUCKLES] A little acting going on. - That's part of creation. - Yeah. I like to keep my lyrics universal. So like, a lot of times, I could just be talking about the human relationship. INTERVIEWER: Songs about love, relationships, life. Priscilla's work will always be there, but Muni is just getting started. - I just don't have any limits. Like, there's literally no limitations. I'm always like, why not?

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