M’Balia was born and raised in Philadelphia, the youngest daughter of two hard working Black folk from the South. Her first musical experiences came from sitting around the kitchen table with her family, after dinner, and lending her voice to the four part harmony while her dad strummed his guitar to anything from Don McClean’s “American Pie” to the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” to Solomon Linda’s “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
Piano, voice, and guitar lessons were par for the course in the Singley household, and M’Balia took this foundation with her to Yale University, where she sang in rock and jazz bands and acapella groups, and caught the attention of the legendary Willie Ruff-Dwike Mitchell Duo, with whom she would do several concerts as an undergraduate. Four post-college years living in New York City left her with invaluable writing material and performance experiences at places like the Nuyorican Poet Cafe, and she returned to Philly with a baby on her hip and bills to pay.
In between j-o-b’s, M’Balia found the time to sing in wedding bands and record demos with John Legend, one of which, “Stay With Me,” made it onto his debut album, and garnered a Grammy-nomination. A brief law school stint, marital bliss, and the birth of her second daughter brought M’Balia to her senses and she began making music full time. Armed with her guitar, M’Balia self-released two EP’s of original music while playing such esteemed venues as the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, The Living Room in New York City, and The World Cafe Live. In 2014, M’Balia began working with various jazz trios around town, enjoying successful stints at Paris Bistro and Jazz Cafe, Relish, and Warmdaddy’s in Philly.