Songwriter-Pianist Raisa Knusel is a melodic reminder of what dedication, resilience, and sheer love for one’s craft can achieve.

Navigating the bustling streets of Odessa, young Raisa Knusel found her heartstrings strumming a melody. Much like a scene from Disney's "Ratatouille" where Remy found his passion in the chaos of a kitchen, Raisa found hers amidst the black and white keys of an old upright piano.

"My parents noticed my love for music," she reminisces, the glint in her eyes evident.

As a child, her fingers danced over the piano keys with a precocious maturity. A ten-year stint of structured learning followed, setting her on a path that she calls her "fundamental journey." Raisa's awakening came in her teenage years at a music college, majoring in Jazz Vocals. The pen took flight on paper, and songwriting became her newfound passion. "I released my first song and performed it during my final exam in college," she recalls. 'Love and Forgiveness,' her debut song, echoed in the halls of her college, marking her entrance into the world of professional music.

The universe has a knack for recognizing raw talent. Soon after her graduation, Raisa’s vocal prowess landed her a stellar gig at Seoulland Amusement Park in Seoul. Akin to a BTS concert sending shockwaves through the audience, her show became a sensation, even earning her a feature on South Korean National TV. Globe-trotting followed, as she dazzled audiences in various avatars – be it as a solo act, duet, or with a band.

Her inspirations? The melodic cadences of Eliane Elias, the rhythmic genius of Stevie Wonder, the youthful energy of Jacob Collier, the soothing tones of Sarah Menescal, the lyrical magic of Jhene Aiko, and the timeless aura of Secret Garden.

Now, imagine belting out ballads on a piano... that’s soaring through the skies. That's precisely what Raisa did at Expo 2020 in Dubai. It's not every day one gets to merge Elton John’s piano flamboyance with Superman’s flight. Alongside such high-flying gigs, she fondly recalls harmonizing with a choir in the grandeur of the Ukrainian Opera House. "All the theatrical performances are memorable, too," she quips.

Her take on Dubai's burgeoning music scene? "It’s like watching a fledgling phoenix, ready to soar." Raisa's prophecy speaks of a city that, in a few years, will rival international music hubs, showcasing its treasures. For her, Dubai isn't just another dot on the map; it's where her heart resonates, a place she calls "home."

"I believe in Dubai!"

Yet, beneath all the glamour and fame, lies a story of resilience. Much like Frodo's perilous journey in The Lord of the Rings,' Raisa's path was rife with challenges. "I had to start from zero many times in my life," she boldly says, referring to the challenges of rebuilding. But every note she penned, every song she sang, stands testament to her indomitable spirit. Building her pièce de résistance, brick by brick, note by note is Raisa's proudest achievement.

"Never giving up on my dream no matter how hard or impossible it seemed," she concludes.

Raisa Knusel is a melodic reminder of what dedication, resilience, and sheer love for one’s craft can achieve.

HOMEGROWN is musivv’s segment dedicated to featuring UAE-based artists. Features under this segment are eligible for a nomination under this category in the Musivv Awards’ annual recognition.

September 27, 2023

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