The Fearless Ones: Victoria Canal
The singer/songwriter talks about growth, having a service-oriented life and the importance of bringing Nike FlyEase to the Air Jordan I.
Interview: Elle Clay
Photos: Anthony Blasko
The “Fearless Ones” celebrates a new generation of defiant, talented individuals. Click here for more stories about the cast.
There are performers whose sole presence is mesmerizing, no matter what they’re sharing on-stage. Victoria Canal is one such performer. Born in Munich, Germany, she has since lived in Shanghai, Tokyo, Barcelona, Madrid, Dubai, Amsterdam and Atlanta, where she learned multiple languages and had a diverse musical education. Victoria was also born with one arm, as a result of Amniotic Band Syndrome — a rare condition that she describes as making her “differently-abled,” though by no means unable or unwilling to pursue her dreams.
Victoria’s mother and grandmother have championed her music career from the moment they introduced her to the piano at 11 years old. At 15 years old, in between a move from Dubai to Barcelona, Victoria convinced her family to let her focus on online music courses. As a teenager, not only had she studied music theory and composition, she started booking all of her own shows and handling all of her own PR. To this day, at age 21, Victoria remains an independent artist, whose mission statement consists of three words: Confidence, Empowerment and Empathy.
On-stage, Victoria’s voice is dulcet and soulful. Even in her earliest recorded concerts, she brings entire venues to a standstill with original compositions like “Unclear” and “Not Afraid.” “The Flower,” Victoria’s collaboration with musician and activist, Michael Franti, is a poignant ballad about the terrors of gun violence. No matter what topic she’s singing about, her vision of using songwriting and words to connect with others is crystal clear.
In keeping with her mission statement, Victoria’s musical accolades are only matched by her philanthropic projects, which include charity work and diversity initiatives at numerous corporations. Victoria uses her voice and visibility to open the door for others and uplift communities.
“I think that connecting with people is my calling and my purpose.”
What was the first song that made you want to make music?
I thought about this one! I think the intro of “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing.” That’s what got me hooked. He just sounds like he knows what he wants in the song; there’s a level of confidence. When I used to be afraid, whether it was on my way to school or just feeling shy, I’d listen to that song. It would pump me up for the day, and then I would feel like I could take on anything.
How did your grandmother nurture your defiant spirit?
My Cuban abuela is amazing. She always told me that I could achieve anything I put my mind to. She would say it like it was an inherent part of my personality — just a piece of who I am. Growing up, that really inspired me. The process of manifestation is number one, and it always has been for me.
Even at a young age, you’ve committed yourself to empowering and being of service to others and the greater good. Where did that come from?
My desire to serve came from seeing how much good is in people. Growing up, we all feel different. For me, looking different with my arm, sometimes I would feel self-conscious at school. I remember that, one day in the third grade, my friend Max drew a little happy face on the end of my arm and called him Donald. From that point on, people would be like, “What’s up Victoria? What’s good Donald?” I’m so inspired by everyone’s stories. I think that connecting with people is my calling and my purpose.
On set, Victoria exudes a quiet confidence while radiating positive vibes. Her music plays, and even in the heat, she’s a good sport. She jokes around in front of the camera and has genuine interactions with the crew. It’s easy to see that she’s poised for stardom.
You’re a singer, songwriter and musician. If you had to only do one, which one would it be?
It’s funny, because they’re so interconnected. When it comes down to interpretation versus expression and creation, I definitely think that I’m addicted to songwriting. Songwriting is what lifts me out of hard times; it helps me celebrate the joys of life.
I’ve seen you on the keys, though!
I wouldn’t give that up either, you’re right! You’re right. I’ll just stick to my answer. [Laughs]
What was your initial reaction when you were asked to partner with Jordan Brand, especially on a campaign that involves FlyEase?
At first, I didn’t believe it. My friend Sarah reached out to me and was like, “Hey, there’s this really cool project that I think you should be involved in.” Here we are, and it’s a big deal to me. I feel absolutely honored to be part of this really important movement.
Why do you think it’s important for brands like Jordan Brand to continually challenge the status quo?
It’s essential. I’m a strong believer that adaptation is the key to success. As a creative, wearing it makes me feel like I can focus. As a woman, it helps me to feel confident. As a differently-abled person, I can move with ease, and I’m comfortable. But most importantly, as a dreamer, the possibilities feel limitless.
Artists tend to vibe on similar frequencies. During the shoot, Victoria had curious questions about the photographer’s camera and its capabilities. She also appears wise beyond her years. She’s eloquent and graceful, and her passion for empowering herself and others is contagious.
Has your journey as an independent artist gotten any easier lately?
I think it’s all about perspective. Even if I wasn’t an artist, getting to 21 years old has been a journey in itself. Everyone’s going through their own shit. I’m trying to have empathy for myself and to practice loving kindness. It’s an everyday journey. I try to separate myself from my career. I think that if you place too much self-worth on external, material things, you wind up being disappointed by the ebbs and flows of life. Those ebbs and flows are gonna happen, it’s just the way it goes.
That said, are there any specific goals you’ve set for yourself from here on out?
Yes, definitely. I want to focus on moments. I want to be surrounded by people who lift me up and who inspire me. I want to create the best music I can possibly make and push my own limits. I always want to be outside of my comfort zone. Getting my picture taken in front of dozens of people can be scary, you know? It’s a new challenge. Being differently-abled means that I’ve always been challenging and testing myself. That’s what my goal is, whether I’m auditioning for an acting role, taking cooking courses, hosting private events in music or competing in a ping-pong tournament. Overall, I’m just focused on the moments that bring me joy and growth.
What message do you want people to take away from your music and story?
It’s always worth it to try your best. You’ll be surprised what you’re capable of!
The Air Jordan I High FlyEase is available starting October 29 at Jordan.com and select retailers.