Midian never believed her mother. It’s just what mom’s do, she thought: tell their daughter they have the voice of an angel. On occasion, as a girl growing up outside the nation’s capital, Midian would escape to her room and let her voice run free; she’d imagine she was Michael Jackson one day, Aretha Franklin the next. But it was just for fun; after all, she had convinced herself she wasn’t a singer. So imagine her reaction then, when as a teenager in a recording studio she upstaged a professionally-trained friend, laying down vocals so refined it left her peer speechless. “I was like ‘Holy shit!’ I can do this!” the now 24-year-old recalls of the epiphany upon hearing her voice piping through the studio speakers. As it turns out, Midian was in fact a singer; she’d always been one. Now, only a few years later, and thanks to the success of her breakout single, “Bitter”, a breathtaking display of vocal prowess and emotional maturity, she finds herself one of the most promising new voices in the music industry.

Midian’s voice is massive — the sort that swallows you whole upon impact. In it you can hear the soulful stylings of the late Etta James and the outsize “wow factor” of contemporary artists like Christina Aguilera. It’s a tool that’s been refined. After discovering she had vocal chops, Midian pursued formal training. Soon however, the singer discovered the mechanistic approach of coaching was diminishing her vocal individuality. “I felt like I was going to lose the character of my voice,” she says. “So I stopped taking voice lessons and I started recording.” Over the next few years Midian became what she lovingly refers to as a “studio rat,” recording hundreds of songs, all the while refining her style and technique. Soon she moved out to LA and began writing and recording her own numbers. But few knew of her palpable progress; it’s how she wanted it. “I always kept this stuff to myself,” she says of the recordings from this time period. Midian’s motives were simple: she’d seen far too many singers thrown into the mainstream machine at a young age, only to be tossed aside at a moment’s notice. She had other plans. “I feel like I developed into a professional — just not in the eye of the public,” she explains. “Now I’m fully confident in my abilities to deliver the best.”

Even as a fresh-faced 20-year-old, Midian was self-assured. When record labels came calling, their first instinct was to mold her not into the R&B-inspired, drop-everything-and-listen vocalist she’d always envisioned. But rather into the next mainstream pop star: Midian says she remembers being told she should “go more the Katy Perry direction” and that she’d be instantly signed if she’d “go more pop” and do a “Fergie type of thing. I always thought that’s not who I am,” she says. But now, with the buzz behind “Bitter” following its placement in VH1’s Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, and the song’s success on the iTunes R&B charts — not to mention the massive triumph of similar-minded artists like Adele – the lane has been busted open for a no-holds-barred act like Midian. “I think music has evolved over the years; anything goes now,” she explains. “People just appreciate good music.”

Still, Midian was humbled by the storm of positive reaction that accompanied “Bitter”. “I didn’t know how people would really respond to it,” she admits. “We’ve had no label, no promo, no push whatsoever and we garnered over a quarter-of-a-million hits on YouTube in less than a month. To me that says more than any amount of money could buy. I’m so thankful that people appreciate good music still. Because I’m not Rihanna. And I’ll never be Rihanna. And I’ve always been OK with that.”

Front-and-center now for the singer is polishing up her live show — something she’s currently working on with a new band. She’s also continuing to record tracks for what will become her debut full-length album. “I want to take my time with my work,” she says. “That’s something that’s really important to me and something that I feel like we’re lacking in 2012: the artist that really focuses on the integrity of the music and makes a cohesive project that makes sense.”

For Midian, one thing is certain, though: she’s a singer. And one whose future is just beginning to be written. “There’s no denying who I am,” she says. “It’s totally encouraging.”

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