RED Hearts: The Best Crossover Music

RED Hearts are guests posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today. Today’s RED Hearts post is from Maya Popa, 23, in NYC, who's into music with big heart and a little hilarity:

First there was MTV's Hip Hopera based on Bizet's Carmen. We couldn't help but watch it: Wyclef Jean as a crystal ball reader and Beyonce-anything is enough enticement. Then R. Kelly released the notorious “Trapped in the Closet,” perhaps the world's first musical soap opera to rhyme “Bridget” with “midget.” As many of us are still recovering from sitting through the two-year, 22-chapter ordeal, I won't aggravate the wound...

But for those of you who seek a slightly more palatable, everyday kind of cross-category listening, might I suggest the music of Ben Lear, a blue-eyed California native with an ocean-wide heart? His folk-opera “Lillian” covers a man's musical journey to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the plastic vortex floating in the ocean between California and Japan. Lear's range, too, might be twice the size of Texas: He composed for a 15-piece orchestra and a gospel choir, and his music has the additional benefit of raising awareness on global pollution. Last year, he performed for the UN, and at Plastic Pollution Coalition’s TEDx event in Santa Monica.

Another excellent example of hybrid musical entertainment is comedian and singer Gillian Cosgriff's album “Waitressing and Other Things I do Well.” Not only is this Australian beauty gifted with a swoon-worthy voice, but her lyrics range from tender to absolutely hilarious -- and always relatable with clever rhymes. Take, for instance, the “Job Song,” in which she runs us through her odd employment experiences: “for something healthier, I joined the craze and worked at a boost juice bar/but the juices got me really wired/and that's the only job from which I've ever been fired...” Her album is available for purchase on iTunes, and there are many YouTube videos of her one-woman show. Now if we can only make her next job touring the U.S.

RED Hearts guest poster Maya Popa is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which is out in paperback.