Campus Spotlight: Sahara Mokhtari
Updated: Sep 8
By: Jessie Garten
Sahara Mokhtari, a 21-year old living in Potomac, Maryland, is not only a pre-law communication major and minor in Spanish Language and Professional contexts, but follows her dreams of pursuing a singing career. With her ongoing love for creating music that speaks to her, Sahara is able to express relatable feelings to those listening to her work. Sahara shares where her inspiration comes from: family and friends. “I am inspired by memories, experiences my friends have told me about, and what I have experienced/seen myself.”
MM: Why did you decide to come to UMD?
SM: My older sister went to Maryland, so I would visit the campus a lot growing up. When I would come to visit her, I fell in love with the campus and environment. In addition to that, I knew I wanted to stay close to home to be able to travel for recording and shows. Being only 30 min from home made it very easy to travel back and forth whenever I needed to.
MM: What is your favorite thing about UMD?
SM: This is a tough question because there’s many to name. I think the community of students would be my favorite. The first time I performed at UMD was College Part Music Fest at Milkboy, which was organized by a few students to fund the music education program at William Wirt Middle School. The Clarice Smith Center also teamed up with us to be able to get the whole campus involved. It was amazing to see so many people come out to support such an amazing cause. We were able to raise thousands of dollars that were donated to the Denstock Foundation which raised money for the middle school’s music program, and I was so proud to be a part of this student body and community.
MM: What drove you to choose your major/has your academic interests changed since beginning college?
SM: I actually started off as a Biological Sciences Cell and Genetics major my freshman year. Although I loved my courses and the major, it became very difficult to make time for singing and still give enough time for my classes and studying. As a result, I made the decision to find a major that I was able to combine with my passion for music. I chose to switch to Communications because of all the public speaking that was involved in performing. In addition, I went the pre-law path because I wanted to pursue entertainment law to become more involved in the business aspect of the music industry. This allowed me to combine my education with my music career.
MM: What advice would you give an incoming UMD freshman?
SM: I would tell them to get involved as much as they can. It is a little intimidating to join such a large campus and community, but do not be afraid to explore through the clubs, organizations, Greek life communities etc. There are so many places you can get involved and it will make your experience very memorable and enjoyable.
MM: Can you give us a timeline of your music career and tell us about your singing career?
SM: I started singing when I was 3 years old. My parents have videos of me putting on a bunch of shows for them. I always loved performing, so I performed solos in my middle school chorus then honors chorus groups. My parents would always play Whitney Houston’s song “I Will Always Love You” in the house, so she became one of my biggest inspirations as an artist. In high school, I started recording music and posting covers on YouTube. My cover of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” got chosen in Elite Daily’s “Top 5 Best Covers” article, and they said my cover was better than the original. This kind of support and recognition really pushed me to continue pursuing my dreams. Then, I started recording more music and traveling to work with producers all over the country. During my sophomore year of college, I travelled to California to record the music video for my single “Quicksand.” I released this music video on Fox5 TV. I am very thankful that my music video now has over 3.6 million views on YouTube! I have been very lucky to perform at venues like the Patriot Center and Echostage and partner with festivals like FireFly, ClubHouse Fest, etc. In addition, I speak 3 languages so throughout my music career, I have had interviews with Spanish television outlets, such as Telemundo and Univision, and Persian television outlets, such as, Voice of America. I have been very fortunate to hear my music play on WPGC 95.5 and 94.7 Fresh FM and various other radio stations. I cannot wait to continue my music journey and see what else is in store for me!
MM: What genre music is your favorite to sing and listen to?
SM: My genre of music is pop, and I love singing it because I feel like it is so diverse. There are so many different subgenres of pop, and there are so many different kinds of songs, artists and styles that fit under this genre. What I love about music is that I could listen to songs that fit my mood whether it be Pop, EDM, R&B, Country, etc. As an artist, I think it is very important to listen to all types of music because it inspires me in different ways and makes me appreciate music even more. Taking different elements of all genres and adopting it to my own style, helps me evolve as an artist.
MM: Do you write your own music or play any instruments?
SM: When I write music, I usually work with beat producers. I sing melodies over the track and then start to play around with lyrics I feel work best with the vibe of the song and message of the song. I also play the guitar, so I also write music while playing around with different chords.
MM: What is the most challenging part of your music career?
SM: It can be difficult balancing my time between managing my academic responsibilities while also prioritizing my growing music career. In order to balance these prioritizes, I always made sure to schedule my classes properly to make time for my music career.
MM: What is the most rewarding part?
SM: I think the most rewarding part of my music career has been to have my dreams become a reality. When I am writing music, it is the most exciting feeling to hear the final product of everything coming together and expressing the vision I had in my mind. Holistically, I can still remember posting my first music video and seeing 1 million views and now to see over 3.6 still blows my mind. I could not be more thankful for all the support I have received.
MM: What advice would you give to a young singer?
SM: I would say never ever stop chasing your dreams. No matter how big your dreams are, do not give up. It can be difficult to feel like things will work out the way you imagine them but trust me stick with it. If you work hard and you put all you have in your craft, nothing will stop you. Do not let anyone else’s words or opinions discourage you. Keep following your dreams!
MM: What’s next for your music career?
SM: I am currently working on a bunch of new music for an EP, and I cannot be more excited to have them already to release!! Quarantine has given me a lot of time to just focus on new music!
MM: What is your ultimate goal with your music career?
SM: My ultimate goal is to headline my own tour and travel the world performing my original music! I would definitely love to win a Grammy one day as well!
MM: Do you want music to be your full-time career? If not, what else do you want to do?
SM: Yes! I want to pursue singing full-time. Music is my life, so I could not imagine living without it.